While the football head was invented by our bassin’ friends out west (see Terry’s story, “The Football Head – Just a Jig Head“), I think I can safely say that for most bass anglers east of the Rocky Mountains, we likely got our first introduction to the bait back in 1995 by a guy named Jim Moynagh. That was the point in bass fishing history when the former angler/researcher for the Hunting and Fishing Library series of books won the Don Shelby Invitational Tournament on Lake Minnetonka, beating out David Fritts by more than 10 pounds and pocketing $50,000. I say former because it was right around the same time that Jim had been laid off from that research position after 9 years of work, but it would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Two years later (1997), Jim would go on to win the $1 million Forrest Wood Open tournament, also on Lake Minnetonka, pocketing another $200,000 in first place prize money using the same bait and technique, and his professional angling career was cemented.
Jim had spent 3 years designing his version of a football head jig featuring an Owner hook, a recessed line tie and indented and pocketed head. At the time, and unlike in the West where anglers would “bop” their one-ton jigs of a similar design down steep canyon walls, Jim would cast and drag his jig along hard bottom areas sitting outside traditional deep weedline areas. It became the alternative to Carolina rigging. Called the Roll’R Jig and marketed by Walker Fishing Systems, the initial jigs were really only jig heads, sold without skirts or a weedguard and designed to be fished with large spider grubs. Fiber guards and traditional silicone skirts would later follow. Later, Jim would work with All-Terrain Tackle in designing a newer version of the bait. Of course nowadays, every jig company in the industry pretty much has their version in their lineup.
The technique caught on quickly and was featured as the headlining piece in In-Fisherman magazine the following year (1996). While originally promoted as a natural lakes technique for fishing deeper unpressured bass found outside the weedlines, it would later be adopted by reservoir anglers who would find and fish hard bottom areas such as sandbars, rockpiles, shellbeds and the like. It quickly became a big fish alternative to the Carolina rig.