The 333 Restaurant in Grenada, Mississippi will certainly go down in history as a great place to eat. It will also be recognized as the birthplace of the Outlaw Max Game Changer. In 2012 during a Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters tournament, pro crappie angler Whitey Outlaw shared an idea for a new jig. Using a 333 Restaurant napkin he drew out his revolutionary concept for Rockport Rattler owner Charles Sablatura.
Like many innovations in the fishing industry, this one came from one angler's desire to do something better, “Grenada is known for big crappie,” says Whitey. “Often those big crappie hit and run sideways on you. The hook up rate on those fish is something I wanted to improve on.”
The idea he sketched out that day was a jig head with three hooks. “My lure has three hooks and you can bend them anyway you want. Straight up and down, side by side, many combinations are possible.” Of course the new jig head also contains the all ready proven rattle system of the original Rock Port Rattler.
Whitey tested a prototype of the lure at the Crappie Masters Classic (National Championship) at Grenada. “Every fish we caught had at least two hooks in it. It is awesome for those big fish that hit, run to the side and shake and shimmy.” The Game Changer helped put Whitey and his partner Mike Parrot in the top 20 out of 200 boats in the tourney after day one. They never lost a fish they hung.
The hook is designed especially for springtime when fish are aggressive, big and shallow. Dingy water like that often found at Grenada in the spring was the perfect testing spot. “The lure worked great,” says Whitey. “We were spider rigging in heavy structure and dingy water. The rattle helps too. When the water is discolored sound is an important attractor. The three hooks almost guarantee a hookup on a good bite.”
The Outlaw/Parrot team spider rig outfit includes a hook and minnow on the top drop, a barrel weight in the middle to keep the presentation vertical and the Game Changer on the bottom. There are different options available to dress the jig since it has 3 hooks. “We normally dress the lure with a live minnow or a tube jig and a minnow,” says Whitey. “I suspect everyone will have their own favorite dressing to add.”
Charles Sablatura recalls that time back in 2013 when he was introduced to the Game Changer concept. “Whitey came to me and said he had an idea for a new bait. He explained that some of the lakes they fish have some absolutely gigantic crappie. We were in Mississippi at Lake Grenada, the perfect example of a big fish lake. They have up to 4 pound crappie there and they fight like they’re on steroids.”
Crappie anglers know that when spring rolls around and the crappie are up in the shallows they hit and run sideways, because they can’t go down. That strike is often so fast and they shake so hard they often throw the hook. “Whitey explained to me that the miss rate could be as high as 70 percent on those big energetic fish,” explained Sablatura. “Very simply, he wanted to put more crappie in the boat and he thought he had a way to do it.”
The concept was similar to existing Rockport Rattler crappie jigs, but it included 3 hooks. “The Game Changer has the standard crappie jig in the middle,” explained Sablatura. “Flared out to each side perpendicular to the standard hook is a second and third hook. It is similar to a treble hook but the hooks are three different shanks, allowing you to use standard jig techniques. The new jig can be tipped with a minnow or a plastic on that center hook. In other words all the stuff you can do with a standard crappie jig you can do with this bait.”
The icing on the cake, indicated Sablatura, is what’s going to happen to the catch rate. “Now you have two additional hooks coming out the side. Big monster crappies that have a tendency to come off after the hookup are going to stay hooked. They are likely to have more than one hook in them. Anglers will find their catch rate going up considerably.”
The Outlaw Game Changer will be available in weights of 1/4-, 3/8- and 1/2-ounce, with hook sizes of #4, #2 and #1. All of Whitey’s favorite colors, including black, glow, red, silver, pink, chartreuse, lime, orange and blue will be offered.
“Using the Game Changer will increase your hookup rate considerably,” says Whitey. “Just as I planned.”
Sablatura was pleased to reveal that production on the Outlaw Game Changer began in January 2014. “We distributed them first to some of our tournament teams and hopefully we will win some early spring tournaments. It would be a great introduction to the market.”
Epilogue: Since this article was written Outlaw and Parrott won the Alabama State Crappie Masters Championship and are leading the angler of the year competition that accumulates total points for the season. Ask for the Game Changer where crappie jigs are sold, or order them direct from Rockport Rattlers.