Before there was a Cooyon Croaker, Kaplan-based Cajun Lures probably was best known for the little soft plastic that slayed sac-a-lait (crappie) here, there and everywhere.
Zach Dubois, whose artificial lure manufacturing business is growing by leaps and bounds, struck a nerve among sac-a-lait and sac-a-lait fishermen when he designed and produced the 2-inch Slim Jimmy.
Dubois, 24, said he was in the shop one night “making some baits.” He finally had received the molds for a new soft plastic artificial lure and after he poured it, he looked at it and thought, “I need a name for it.”
“I said, ‘It kind of looks like a Slim Jim.’ That’s how I thought about it. Slim Jimmy,” he said during a mid-summer interview.
Dubois’ passion for catching sac-a-lait at Toledo Bend (where they’re better known as crappie) prompted him to make a soft plastic to his liking. He started making Slim Jimmys in November of 2015.
“Well, the reason for the design, I wanted a different sac-a-lait bait that I could keep in the strike zone and have more tail action at Toledo Bend. I wanted it to sit there, to aggravate them. I wanted something I could keep in front of them and entice them to bite,” he said.
He tightlines it while fishing up there and noted that most of the time he doesn’t even have to jig it. The elongated tail is the key to its action, he said.
“The thing is, it has so much action, if it’s windy at Toledo Bend, just the rocking from the waves while fishing the brushpiles (provides plenty of movement). It looks good under a cork, too,” he said.
Dubois and whoever he fished with caught consistently with the Slim Jimmy at Toledo Bend. The word got out. He gave some away and the catching commenced.
“A couple guys” started hammering the sac-a-lait in the Vermilion Corp. south of Kaplan. Then another fisherman said he was “smokin’ em” at Henderson Lake.
The launch really began, Dubois said, when Slim Jimmy started accounting for beaucoup sac-a-lait in the lower Atchafalaya Basin around Morgan City. He recalled a New Iberia fisherman sharing a story about how he got turned on to the Slim Jimmy. The fisherman was fishing a cut in the nation’s last great overflow swamp and catching zilch while at the same time another angler on the other side of the cut was pulling fish in left and right. The fishless fisherman went over to see what he was using and the other fisherman gave him three Slim Jimmys. He went back to his side of the cut and caught 13 sac-a-lait.
Word got out in other ways, too. For example, Dubois’ uncle, Walter Greene of Kaplan, a rice, crawfish and cattle farmer, would work his property and hand them out last year to people fishing from the side of the road, mainly around bridges over the numerous canals and drains in the area, and tell them where they could get some more. Greene would replenish his supply whenever he’d pass by Dubois’ house.
“That’s a different marketing technique, I guess,” Dubois said with a chuckle.
“Last year they were successful with it in Vermilion Parish. The water was high. They were even catching sac-a-lait behind Lowe’s.”
A few Take Dat Sac-a-lait Tournaments have been won on Slim Jimmys at Henderson Lake, he said.
Its success ranges far and wide. On July 23, after the online votes from April 24 to June 10 were tabulated, it was ranked runner-up in Best Crappie Jig in the 3rd annual Best of Louisiana Outdoors.
And it catches species other than sac-a-lait.
“It works for bream, as well,” Dubois said.
Speckled trout like them too, the Cajun Lures owner discovered when he was working his booth in July at the Louisiana Sportsman Show in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
“A guy came in the booth and told me he’s been using it to catch trout. That’s the first I heard of that. He said opening night was the best color,” Dubois said, noting the angler also said he fishes them tandem-rigged, each on a 1/16-ounce leadhead.
That angler also said he bought five to seven packs at a time for his saltwater fishing ventures.
There are 10 colors, and in Dubois’ opinion, the top three are salt and pepper, black/chartreuse and living the dream. The latter, which is chartreuse with blue/silver flake, is named for the Living the Dream Guide Service at Toledo Bend run by veteran fishing guide and owner J.T. Thompson and, among others, fishing guide Matt Loetscher.
“Finally, this year, I started making black/chartreuse,” he said, noting it is overwhelmingly popular. “After that, salt and pepper’s my favorite. It looks like a shad or baitfish. Living the dream is a pretty good color. It works a lot and they use them and like them. It’s kind of like their logo colors,” he said.
He does custom make color combinations for Slim Jimmys, he said.
Dubois prefers to fish it on a 1/32-ounce or 1/16-ounce Jenny’s Jig leadhead. If he uses the 1/32-ounce model he crimps a small BB shot about 8 inches above the leadhead.
“I find I get more bites on a 1/32. It’s a slightly smaller profile,” he said.
Fishermen can order Slim Jimmys online at cajunlures.com. Slim Jimmys are becoming more and more accessible as the soft plastics get more popular. In March, Slim Jimmys and other Cajun Lures products — led by the emergence of the Cooyon Croaker — were in 12 retail locations in Louisiana and Texas, and as of mid-July they were being sold in 32 stores.