Two men had a dream. One man had a personal goal of making the best crappie jighead for hollow body crappie tubes. The other man had a dream of winning the Crappie Classic, the Super Bowl of crappie fishing.
David Summer was a schoolteacher in northwestern Tennessee when he worked on a jighead that would hold a tube jig better than other heads on the market. A combination of good holding ability without tearing the jig resulted in a two-barbed collar with barbs on opposite sides. It worked.
Good holding power was only a part of his design. He wanted a pill-shaped head to get down quickly and come through limbs a little better than a ball head jig. A good paint job and prism eyes gave it the final eye-candy look that he wanted.
Richard Williams and David Summers show off a few Kentucky Lake crappie.
Meeting his personal goal of a high-quality jig, he started making them by the hundreds, all by hand. He and his family poured, flattened the heads with a hammer, hand painted, and placed the eyes on each one.
Richard Williams has been around crappie fishing a long time. He has many days on the water as a guide at Kentucky Lake. Williams has won national tournaments and qualified for 18 classics. He is retired but still runs a Minn Kota warranty center in Paris, Tennessee. He and his partner, David Jones, fished the 2014 Crappie USA tournament on Cumberland Lake. The following is William’s story.“David Summers and I were friends for many years,” says Williams. “His jigs became nationally known as a great jig and though he focused on selling them to local fishermen, he ended up selling them all over the country. At their peak, he and his family were hand pouring and finishing over 250,000 a year. That’s a lot of jigs made by hand.
“I always helped promote his jigs and helped David in any way I could. I encouraged him to set up his trailer at Mansard Island on Kentucky Lake so the heavy fishing traffic there would give him more business. He would never get rich because even with all the fishermen stopping there to buy jigs, for every pack they bought David usually gave them another one of a different size or color just to help them catch fish. A truly nice man.
“I got him to go fishing with me. He loved it out on the water. He also enjoyed teasing and aggravating me about anything going on. One time he had been riding me heavy during one of our trips so I moved off the channel at a brushpile and hung all four of his poles up at once. After I let him battle them for a while I reached over and wrapped all four lines around my hand and popped the lines breaking off all four jigs. He looked at me with his mouth open like I had slapped him or something. I said, “Don’t worry about the jigs. I have a guy who gives them to me for free.” He had the funniest look on his face and was speechless. It was so funny.
David Summers, at his TeeZur trailer, with a nice mess of crappie.
“He bought a 7-foot spinning rod and gave it to me. It was a Bud Erhardt pole. I caught fish with it but I loved that pole mainly because it was a gift from a friend.
“David retired as a schoolteacher so he could make his TeeZur jigs full time like he loved to do. He retired on a Monday and found out on Wednesday that he had pancreatic cancer. He died on April 25, 2004. I hung the pole on my wall and never used it again.”
The 2014 Classic
Fast forward to the fall of 2014. Richard Williams got a call from his fishing partner saying he had scouted the water where the classic would be held. Casting would be required to reach the fish without spooking them in the clear water.
“I’m a BnM Pole man all the way,” says Williams, “but while I was on the phone with my partner I looked up on the wall and saw the rod David had given me. I knew at that moment I would use it one more time. I pulled the pole down and put a reel on it.
“My partner had some friends on the lake who had told him about some spots to try. He found a tree that hung up in the rocks down at about 40 feet on a 100-foot rock bluff. The tree stuck up to almost 15 feet below the surface. We got to the spot at 5:00 am, an hour and a half before ‘start fishing’ tournament time on day one. We had a boat that came across the lake right to us at 5:15. When he got to within 20 feet, my partner asked the man what he was doing. His plans were to fish the tree we were on because he was in a tournament and that’s where he wanted to fish. We finally convinced him if had been there first he could have but since we were there first it was ours to fish. He finally moved on.
“At 6:30 we started fishing. It was still dark and we couldn’t even see the bluff. As it got lighter we could position correctly to get our baits to the right spot. The fish were at 15 feet but within 45 minutes they were down to 35 feet. An hour later they shut off, but we knew we had some good fish. We fished a few other spots but we left the lake early because we had over an hour’s drive and had some weak fish. We lost a pound and three quarter fish on the drive back but still ended the first day with about a pound and a half lead.
“We didn’t want to chance not getting to fish the tree so the Tonight Show wasn’t over when we got in the truck and headed to the lake. We got to the spot and settled down for a long wait. During the night the temperature dropped to about 30 degrees and the north wind started blowing. It was a long, sleepless night.
“When fishing started we caught seven fish from the tree and suddenly it was over. We fished other spots and caught some more but at 10:30 am we had a weak fish that weighed about a pound and three-quarters. My partner caught it from 45 feet of water, I had stuck it with a needle and we weighted the fins to keep it upright in the livewell. There was a lot of fishing time left but we thought we could win if we kept the fish alive so we left early again.
“It was a long drive that seemed to last forever. We got there, put the fish in the cooler, got in line and got checked. The fish lived for about five more minutes and died. We won the classic by 6/100 of a pound. If we had waited five minutes later to quit fishing we wouldn’t have won.”
“Winning the Classic is something that can’t be described with words. It was an adrenaline rush of major proportion. It meant so much to my partner and me. And most of our big fish for the win were caught on the spinning rod David had given to me… The Pole. I know it wasn’t the brand name on the pole, or the action of the tip, but it was the spirit of David Summers who made the difference. People can say anything they want, but there was never a doubt in my mind that David was there with me every cast. He helped us catch those fish and was smiling from above. He was a great friend to me and to fishermen who knew him.”
Classic Champs Richard Williams and David Jones. Photo compliments of Crappie USA
The Jig Man
As a writer I’m always looking for a new angle or product. Many years ago Richard Williams introduced me to David Summers and his jigs while on a fishing trip to Kentucky Lake. Back when Crappie World Magazine was strong with a large following, I ran a story that included TeeZur Jigs. David called me a few days later and said his fax machine had run all day and night. He had gotten more orders in two days than he had ever gotten at one time. He gave a sincere, heart-felt thanks from both he and his wife. That meant a lot to me. He said if the business kept up he would have to retire from his job at the school just to keep up with orders.
A week later I received a box with around 300 jigheads in it. A few of the special jigs had “P-I-P” handwritten on the label. David said it meant “Playing In Paint” and wanted me to field test some odd and different colors.
He knew my favorite jig was a yellow-chartreuse and dark green combo in 3/32-oz. There were plenty of those in the box along with a new order form with that color listed as Huffman Jig. It was cool and an honor to have one named after me. David was a nice man who is missed.