The Big Bopper – AKA The One-Ton

1989 One Ton Jig 213x300 The Big Bopper – AKA The One Ton

Photo BassMaster Magazine February 1989 Issue.

Reading the February 1989 issue of BassMaster Magazine, I came across a piece written by Michael Jones called Going Deep with the Big Bopper. Above the title were a couple of renderings of how to fish the deep-water Bopper and below the title was the name Greg Hines, so I decided to give it a better look.

Turns out the Big Bopper was what we today, or as long as I can remember, call the One-Ton Jig – a big 1-ounce football head that, at the time, was adorned with a Garland Spider Jig or a Yamamoto Hula Grub.

I hate saying something is western or eastern in origin – seems every time I do that I get a number of emails or comments proving me wrong. But here’s something I think can be traced back west as a deep-water power-fishing technique. The One-Ton jig.

I was introduced to it around the ’87 timeframe when anglers were using the technique on lakes such as Oroville, Mojave and Mead – typical lakes where Western Bass and U.S. Bass held their events.

The technique was such a deviation from the light-line techniques of doodling and split-shotting that many folks, entrenched in finesse tactics, wouldn’t even give it a second thought. Kind of like they did with the light-line tactics when they first came out, come to think of it.

Moving on, the article talks about how effective the technique is at fishing the 30- to 50-foot regions and doing it fast. Power-fishing in fact – something difficult to do in water deeper than 10 feet.

Hines talks of the need for a 6- to 6 1/2-foot medium-heavy rod coupled with 14-pound line and a graph recorder – ahhhh the smell of burning thermopaper in the morning. He also talks about what is probably the most important part of the technique, the retrieve.

His typical retrieve is to cast into deep water, let the jig sink and then give the reel 6-8 fast cranks and stop. “It’s like fishing a crankbait in 40 feet of water,” he said.

The other critical thing that he stresses, though, is the head has to be a football head. In the west, the football head was a mainstay, but at the time the Arkie-style head had infiltrated the west and people had started to forget about the oblong hunk of lead.

Fizzing Directions 1989 234x300 The Big Bopper – AKA The One Ton

How to deflate a bass caught from deep water. Longtime BassMaster writer and respected fisheries biologist Hal Schramm provided the illustration. Photo February 1989 issue of BassMaster Magazine.

With respect to the head, Jones wrote, “With the weight farther forward on the football head, the bait has a very direct fall, provides better ‘feel’ and provides batter vibration and movement.”

Hines went on to say, “..a streamlined head will slide towards you instead of falling straight down. In deep water, if the bait slides towards you, a fish can suck it in a spit it out and you’ll never know it.”

The article then goes on to talk about hooking fish and getting them to the boat with such a heavy lever in their mouth. Also accompanying the article was a sidebar on deflating deep-caught bass with a needle, the first such article in a nationally published magazine. For the article, Jones interviewed CA DFG biologist Dennis Lee, who had been working on the subject since 1976.


  • Jeff Derrick

    Ahhhh….1 oz Spider jigs and Westy Worms….the staple of the Arizona fisherman in the 1980’s. I remember a AZ State Federation tournament at Lake Alamo and seeing John Murry with a coffee can full of 1 oz spider jigs, rigged and ready to go. They were essential on Roosevelt also.

    Terry, I really enjoy your articles and (unfortunately) can really relate.

    • http://www.bassfishingarchives.com Terry

      Thanks Jeff! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  • cc

    The Garland jig is one of the finest baits ever invented – IMHO.
    Unfortunately it has been overshadowed by Bobby Garland’s other great innovation – the Gitzit!
    Thanks for posting this Terry.
    Is it possible to post the actual article?

    • http://www.bassfishingarchives.com Terry

      CC, I wish I could. Its a great article.