“Predator fish key on the eyes of their prey like no other anatomical feature,” notes Phillips, one of the early inshore guides in the Charleston, South Carolina area dating back to the 1970s. “This undeniable fact inspired us to create the original Eye Strike Jig.”
Seven years ago, Phillips met and befriended Dave Fladd, a fellow angler who happened to be an optical engineer by trade. Together, Phillips and Fladd began to concept a jig whose head was as Phillips says, “primarily just a set of oversized eyeballs.” Phillips provided the big ideas. Fladd made it happen; he composed exacting CAD drawings and fleshed out critical details, such as the precise angle and placement of eyelets. The duo even deep-thought jighead shape, aimed at performing specific tasks like grass deflection and exaggerating the body movements of different softbaits.
“At first, we just made the jig for ourselves,” says Phillips, “sort of the ultimate trout and redfish jig that married perfectly with our favorite Z-Man softbaits. We started by pouring the jigheads six at a time on my back porch.”
Then at a recent ICAST tradeshow, Phillips and Fladd crossed paths with professional redfish tournament anglers Mark and Michael Cowart. “These guys had some exceptional insights into weedless jighead design,” recalls Fladd. “So, we went to work together to build what was to be the perfect tournament jig. We believe we have it.”