In past gear guides, we have mentioned that Midwest finesse anglers have been slow to joining the swimbait phenomenon that was conceived in California in the 1970s and 1980s.
For decades, we have been wielding either a three- or a four-inch curly-tail grub affixed to a 1/16-, 3/32-, or 1/8-ounce jig. In our eyes, the size of the traditional swimbaits was too big. But as the size of swimbaits has become smaller, they are catching the eyes of more and more Midwest finesse anglers.
Outkast Tackle's recent introduction of the Goldeneye Swimbait Head, which was designed by Josh Douglas of Isle, Minnesota, has caught the eyes of several Midwest finesse anglers. And these anglers suggested that we should garner Douglas' insights about how, when, and where to use it.
Before we talked with Douglas, the folks at Outkast informed us that they worked with Douglas to create a jig head that would enhance the balance of a typical swimbait rig, and by enhancing the balance, it would track in a straight line and exhibit "the most natural presentations possible." In addition to focusing on what they call a natural action, they also aimed at accentuating its action.
It is manufactured in three sizes: 1/8-ounce, 1/4-ounce, and 3/8-ounce.
Most Midwest finesse anglers will opt for the1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head that is created around a 3/0 Gamakatsu hook.
Its head is endowed with a pair of three-dimensional eyes, which are a quarter of an inch in diameter. According to the folks at Outkast, these eyes display a panic motif, which might attract the attention of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.
The collar possesses a double-barbed bait keeper, which is similar to the very effective double-barbed bait keeper that graces Outkast Tackle's Money Jig. And radiating from the end the collar and along the shank of the hook, there is a wire bait keeper. These three bait keepers were designed to keep a soft-plastic swimbait properly affixed to the hook and the collar of the jig, which allows the swimbait to swim as straight as the proverbial arrow. And, of course, a straight presentation is a critical element in the minds and eyes of most swimbait aficionados.
We had several telephone conversations on July 26 with Josh Douglas about the Goldeneye Swimbait Head. As we talked, he was driving to Virginia, where he would compete at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open tournament on the James River at Henrico, Virginia. During these conversations, he said one of the unique characteristics of the Goldeneye Swimbait Head is that the bulk of its weight is situated along the bottom of the head. When a swimbait is rigged on the Goldeneye Swimbait Head, this novel design keeps this rig from rising up towards the surface when an angler is executing a straight swimming presentation. The design of the head also enhances the ability of a boot on the tail of a swimbait to dramatically kick.
Many anglers think of a swimbait as a search bait. In fact, Outkast noted in one of its advertisement that "swimbait fishing is a staple in the game of searching for bass."
But Douglas designed the Goldeneye Swimbait Head to be a multi-faceted jig rather than just a straight-and-narrow search bait. To accomplish that task, the bottom portion of the head is flat, and this allows it to be dragged along the bottom similar to the way Douglas employs a jig-and-tube combo.
There are times, however when Douglas uses it as a search bait. And he recently did that when he won $5,016 and ninth place honors at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open tournament on Lake Oneida, at Syracuse, New York this year on June 29 to July 1. At Oneida, his Goldeneye Swimbait Head was dressed with sunfish-colored boot-tailed swimbait. He used it to search for aggregations of smallmouth bass, and when he found an aggregation of them, he employed a drop-shot rig rather than his Goldeneye rig. At Oneida, he worked with a 1/4-ounce Goldeneye rig with a baitcasting outfit.
Douglas uses the 1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head when he is plying shallow-water lairs, such as rock reefs that are covered with three to six feet of water. To the 1/8-ouncer, he will affix a 2 1/2- to four-inch boot-tail swimbait or a three- to four-inch curly-tailed grub. The Goldeneye Swimbait Head is also available with a 4/0 hook, and when Douglas uses a four-inch soft-plastic swimbait, he opts for the 4/0 model.
He wields the 1/8-ounce combo on a seven-foot, four-inch and medium-power and fast-action Daiwa Tatula Elite AGS Spinning Rod (TAEL741MFS-AGS) and Daiwa Exist 30012 Spinning Reel (STEEZEX3012H).
His reel is spooled with 12-pound-test Daiwa J-Braid 8 line, and he says the line is an important ingredient. It allows him to make extremely long casts and set the hook from long distances. What's more, the Daiwa J-Braid 8 is extremely quiet in his guides, and Douglas has found that a quiet braid is a very essential factor in his various presentations with his Goldeneye Swimbait Head rigs. That quietness is something that he has not found in other braided lines.
To the braided line, he adds a 10-pound-test fluorocarbon leader that is six to seven feet long.
When Douglas uses the 1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head affixed to a swimbait on his spinning rods, he makes long casts. In fact, he says: "I want to cast them as far as I can." The only time he makes a short cast occurs when he is focusing on a specific target, such as a nearby boulder or a log or a stick.
Douglas says it is a very effective rig to employ around sparse patches of broadweed cabbage and along the edges of tapering patches of coontail. To ply these patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, Douglas uses what he calls a slow-roll retrieve, which is similar to the retrieve that Midwest finesse anglers call a straight swimming presentation.
When Douglas employs his slow-roll retrieve, he points the tip of the spinning rod directly at his Goldeneye Swimbait Head rig, and he retrieves it by cranking the reel handle. And if the 1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head becomes snagged on a stem of cabbage or coontail during the retrieve, Douglas will use his rod to rip it free, and that rip will occasionally elicit a strike.
One of his favorite areas to probe with the 1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head rig are rock- and boulder-laden ones in shallow water, such as the rock reefs that embellish many acres of Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, which is one of his favorite waterways.
In an email on July 28, Douglas described the way he fishes on the rocks. He said he uses "a half swimming and a half dragging technique." While he is employing this tactic, the head of the 1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head will keep a swimbait's boot tail just off the bottom, and throughout the entire retrieve, the boot tail will exhibit an alluring kicking action. According to Douglas, this presentation keeps the rig in the strike zone longer than can be achieved with other jighead-and-swimbait combos.
This retrieve replicates the behavior of the round goby that abide in the Great Lakes. They are bottom dwellers, and they are not graceful swimmers. Thus, his half-swimming-and-half-dragging retrieve is somewhat similar to the herky-jerky behavior of the round goby.
What's more, he can use the 1/8-ounce Goldeneye Swimbait Head rig to replicate the crawling motifs of the crayfish that dwell amongst the rocks. The head was designed so that so that it does not become easily snagged amongst the rocks when he is employing a crayfish presentation.
The package of two 1/8-ounce Outkast Goldeneye Swimbait Jigheads can be purchased for $5.99. They are available in a silver-gray hue.
(1) Here is a link to Outkast Tackle's website: http://outkasttackle.com/golden-eye-swimmer-head.
(2) Here is a link to a feature that we published on Jan. 25, 2017, about Josh Douglas: https://www.in-fisherman.com/gear-accessories/the-marabou-jig-according-to-josh-douglas/.