About 6 months ago at a business meeting I was introduced to a fairly new Oklahoma Crappie fishing guide named Josh Jones. As most relationships start, Josh was introduced to Wohali Outdoors (my Fle Fly Panfish Brand manufacturing business partners) by an owners friend. Friend of a friend deal…..Ya know – The owners friend knew about the Fle Fly brand being heavily involved in Panfish and Crappie tackle. He had also been very impressed with Josh on a recent guide trip for Crappie. So he set up the meeting and brought Josh into office to discuss a new idea that he had for a very specific fishing rod used when LiveScoping big Crappie. Josh and his friend knew Fle Fly and Wohali had a long history of building fishing rods so they felt like we “as tackle manufactures” might be a good option to listen Josh’s idea. The unique rod was something Josh felt like he needed to be more successful and felt if built correctly, could also make other Crappie anglers much more successful. Collectively all of us at Wohalli Outdoors discussed the fishing guides idea and business opportunity then decided to move forward. We all know quality manufacturing + good ideas = Good Fishing Synergy
I was vaguely familiar with Josh since I’m heavily involved in sporting goods and because I had seen pics of massive Crappie Josh and his clients had caught in and around Oklahoma. These pics were circulating from his Josh Jones Pro Fisherman business page. Josh and my son oldest Haydn had a little correspondence on social media too, probably since Haydn is a fairly new Crappie guide in Oklahoma as well. So going into the meeting we had a basic understanding of what Josh’s capabilities probably were. After listening to him tell us what his very specific long rod needs were, we decided to try and build a LiveScope rod that Josh was happy with. Using his input, we sent length measurements, action specifics and appearance suggestions to our trusted fishing rod manufacturers.
So yesterday, 6 months into the project later we decided to meet and try out the new Fle Fly/Josh Jones LiveScope rod prototypes. Let me just say though – 36 degrees, cloudy and windy are not Ole’ Pops favorite fishing conditions. Historically these are the kinds of conditions that have made for some long, tough fishing days on the water for me. Plus, I’m kinda wimpy anymore. Fair weather fisherman and all. But Josh insisted these are the very best days to LiveScope the shallows for HUGE Crappie. Why crummy days like this you ask? Well time on the water and experience has taught him these were the best days primarily because he targets underwater structure in water 12 ft or shallower. Josh says the fish don’t sense the boat is closing in on them as quickly with all the wind waves. The fish don’t see the boat shadow as easily because of the cloud cover plus the Crappie are shallower due to the same cloud cover. Another big factor is theres usually no other Crappie anglers on the water bumping your boat and competing for the best locations to fish.
Other than my face freezing on the short boat ride out to his spot, the fishing was simply amazing. Josh uses the slang term “Camel” for the massive crappie he catches and boy howdy, that dude can catch the Camels with LiveScope! Josh has gotten very prolific using Garmin’s LiveScope equipment on forward view. For over a year now he has honed his video game like skills operating the trolling motor with one foot, watching the LiveScope with one eye and his rod tip with the other. This type of fishing in the wind is fast and furious. Quite possibly better suited for folks with snappy reflexes and excellent balance. Falling out of the front of the boat while chasing shallow roaming crappie is a real possibility too. Josh whips the nose of the boat quickly left to right and in circles with 112 volt motor set at 75 to 100% most of the time. Bump one log and SPLASH! Jus’ sayn’……If you go with Josh…..life vest recommended y’all! After watching Josh I’m thinking, “I don’t think my generation played enough video games as kids, to be this coordinated in front of a sonar computer screen!” The boat is constantly moving in the wind. The beam on the LiveScope in forward view is very narrow and attached to the trolling motor, thats moving under foot power. Just keeping your Crappie Kicker or minnow in the beam at 6 to 14 ft in front of you while adjusting the foot pedal for the drifting boat is brutal enough. Then toss in a quick moving shallow water roaming crappie and you have real problems. Sneaking up on big Crappie with LiveScope in forward view on calmer days can be accomplished by the average dude. But I’m warning you, this technique on windy days requires acquired skills buddy! The kind a tightrope walker going at in the wind has.
Yesterday we tried prototype rods from 11 to 14ft. I brought side cutters and actually cut some of the prototypes down to find the exact action and power he liked. Once we got that done I spooled a SR20 Fle Fly spinning reel with some of his 20 lb. braid then tied on a white 1/8 oz. Big Eye jig head and coupled it with a 2.5 inch Monkey Milk Crappie Kicker. The prototype rod, line, lure and reel combo worked like magic on Josh’s Camels! After catching several “Camels” myself between 2 and 2.9 lbs. I had a better idea of what kind of rod it takes to do this new fishing technique at a high level. And why Josh came to us with very specific rod requirements.
So as a crappie fishing fanatic and tackle designer I feel like we are well on our way at to creating a tremendous LiveScope fishing rod. I appreciate all Joh’s input and I am looking forward to watching his clients land more Camels with the rod we create. Here is a video of Josh using a Crappie Kicker, Garmin’s Panoptix LiveScope and our prototype rod to land massive Oklahoma Crappies!