Kyle catches big ones on Huddlestons.
Kyle catches big ones on Huddlestons.

I think I met Kyle via Facebook.  When I see a guy catching 8″ Huddleston fish, and I don’t care where, I try to pay attention.  Kyle showed me a picture one time and I immediately recognized it as a pond in my old neighborhood in Roswell, GA.  It was funny.  Kyle is in 11th grade, he runs his own bait company (BigBoy Bait Co), and he catches fish on 3:16 Rising Sons and 8″ Huddleston Deluxe Trout baits.  I really enjoy the passion and the drive these High School and College anglers have…both for the tournament styles of fishing and the bigbait styles of fishing.

Notice ice on the shoreline, and a stud on the 3:16 Rising Son. Good one Kyle.

Kyle shared a recent school assignment with me, a paper on Mickey Ellis and the 3:16 Lure Company.  Read it below.  I like the simple, well synthesized and organized way he explains bigbait fishing and tells a story.  He does a very good job of educating someone who doesn’t know much about fishing, the key things they need to understand and connect with.   I’m impressed with Kyle’s fishing, his writing and his bait company.

Here is Kyle in his own words/his Bio:

“Kyle Meyer here, a little about myself. First off, I am a senior in High School, at Glynn Academy in Saint Simons Island, Georgia. I strongly believe in doing what you love, and right now I am doing just that. I have been handpouring/injecting custom baits for almost 3 years now, and have started a small business in the industry, Big Boy Baits. I am extremely interested in swimbaits and bigbaits, but not just fishing them…the industry, the makers, the processes, and the dedication that goes into these baits is largely unknown to the general public, and I want to change that. Handmade swimbaits are not just another product on the website, they are works of art, masterpieces of mechanics and realism, and useful tools in your arsenal. I also believe in “doing all you can”. I also run a Youtube Video channel, The Southbound Fishing show, to document my journey, the success and failure. Along with my business, I plan to unroll many other projects to the Southern Swimbait fisherman, to help and guide the fresh generation of fishermen, as they are by far the most important to the sport. Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from you soon.” KM

 Kyle Meyer
Kyle Meyer with gorgeous fish caught on one Big Boy Baits Paddle Stick
Kyle Meyer with gorgeous fish caught on one Big Boy Baits Paddle Stick

The Success of Mickey Ellis and 3:16 Lure Company

by Kyle Meyer


Mickey Ellis is a man of dedication, of passion, and of perfection. For 13 years, Mickey has been selling the biggest and the most innovative swimbaits on the market. These are not your normal fishing lures, these baits are giants in themselves. These baits are 4-12 inches long, ultra-realistic fish imitations that catch some of the biggest Largemouth Bass in the world. Every bait is handmade and handcrafted by Mickey himself. The question is, how did he get here? Years before this business ever was dreamed of, Mickey was a hardcore street motorcycle racer, on a path that certainly did not lead to a successful business and a profound love for God and Christianity.  What changed and took him to divine success and the forefront of trophy West Coast bass fishing?

One should note that without work, there can be no progress. To say that a specific person achieved great success without work and dedication is a very false statement. To say that uncontrollable factors can influence the work and goals of a successful person is much more understandable. Mickey Ellis has everything it takes: drive, vision, insight, and most of all, timing. He came into the swimbait industry at just the right time. If he had had his “vision” to make baits 10 years earlier, he might have just made some plastic worms and called it a day. But no, he came into the bait scene just as things were really exploding. Swimbait fishing was a almost a secret cult, barely practiced at all outside of the clear California reservoirs, but it was not to stay that way for long. Mickey came along at precisely the right time, with precisely the right mindset needed for the time period. Technicality, realism, and action were all becoming the focus of his competitors, and he had the experience and timing to pull it all off at the same time. It sounds like another American businessman that took a passion and ran with it, but behind the scenes it is much more.

“I rented a condo on Lake Mission Viejo. I would go out there on the dock every night and fly-line those big Bass Assassins, and catch 10 pounders or better every time”, Mickey says in his interview with Matt Peters of the movie Southern Trout Eaters. Just for reference, a lot of fishermen in the US will never catch or see a 10 pound Largemouth Bass. It is a fish that could break lake and potentially state records all over the country, and Mickey Ellis was catching them on a regular basis, in his backyard. A quote from Malcolm Gladwell reads:  “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Catching these giant fish in his own backyard using his own sought-out methods gave Mickey the skill and knowledge of his subject to create a bait so well-suited for the task at hand that it would become one of the top baits in its category: The Mission Fish. To this day the Mission Fish is still one of the most widely fished weedless swimbaits to ever hit the market, and it has exploded the 3:16 Lure Company, Mickey’s business.

Location also greatly affected the success of Mickey and his business. The Southern California area is home to some of the best Largemouth Bass fishing in the country, with 20 out of the 25 largest bass ever caught coming from the Southern California region. That’s right, 80 percent of the largest fish EVER caught came from the local area where Mickey was from. In fact, number 14 on the list came from Lake Mission Viejo; the same lake Mickey practiced and honed his techniques on.  This is a perfect example of the advantageous location, also known as being “in the right place at the right time”. Just as Mickey started his bait business, the niche industry of big swimbaits really exploded and his creations became some of the most sought-after baits in the big-bait world. The baits that are created by the master lure designers of California, folks such as Matt Servant of Mattlures, Jerry Rago of Rago Baits, Scott Whitmer of 22nd Century Baits, Ken Huddleston of Huddleston and of course Mickey Ellis can be found selling for hundreds of dollars sometimes, and they were almost all handmade or hand carved in that time period. When thousands of people want a product that takes hours to make, it creates a bottleneck effect and the demand will always meet the supply. If there had been 500 or 1,000 bait makers in Southern California at that time, who knows who would have made it. Maybe instead of a single devoted person crafting artful baits, it would have been a large scale factory producing cheap knockoffs. But instead, the industry flourished and a unique niche was created to fill the makers’ lists, and competition ensued, driving each man to create a better, more innovative bait, and the technology advanced faster than ever before, with new features, paint jobs, and of course innovation coming to the table. A skilled group of designers and crafters developed this industry from the ground up, and Mickey was right in the middle of it, at just the right time, with just the right ideas.

The success of the 3:16 Lure Company and the man behind it, Mickey Ellis cannot be totally attributed to the cases of “successful phenomenon”, but there are many factors that did make the pendulum swing the right way, and coupled with an insane drive to produce the wildest and most innovative baits, made a machine of a company that to this day provides the public with some of the best trophy bass lures made, and there seems to be no sign of stopping.  KM


3 more studs Kyle caught on his own baits.
3 more studs Kyle caught on his own baits.


Par 7 or 8, Huddleston Fish
Par 7 or 8, Huddleston Fish


Thank you Kyle for sharing and best of luck in your future endeavors with fishing.  Go for it man.  You live in a great part of the country to catch fish!  Hope you got an “A” on your paper and you have many days of Rising Son and 8″ Huddie bites.  MP


The 3:16 Rising Son Jr. is a sleeper swimbait and is great for certain applications.  I realized I’d been overlooking this bait as part of my tournament and trophy arsenal this past winter in Okeechobee.  You are going to have to be patient, I have an Okeechobee sessions thing I’m working on that will shed a lot more information and clarity as to why the Rising Son Jr. works so well in some situations, and some insights into how I fish and rig it.   I know this is one of Mickey’s most popular softbaits and for good reason, it comes in great colors, swims incredibly well at fast and slow speeds, and fishes good around hard and soft cover.   Fish bite it.

Exactly. The tail ‘licks’ the surface, the body straightens out, and the bait gets into perfect trim when you get a good swim lane and a feel for the tempo of fishing it.
Almost a great shot. Lens glare got me. Single Owner ST-41 Treble hooks and zero metal inside the bait/as part of the harness = very buoyant.
The body is bulbous. It has a nice tear drop shape that gives it volume, and of course the tail just twists and shouts back there. Mickey’s boot tails are known to get bites and create lift.

Since I had a brief visit in Arkansas, I was able to go thru some old boxes of baits and find some things I wanted to share.   With the recent release of our “Southern Trout Eaters” Huddleston Rig tutorial video, I thought the following was a good chronology of events and that ultimately have led up to where we are with our the Southern Trout Eater Huddleston rig.  The rig is literally 10 years in the making.

The first softbait I ever fished with any consistency was the Eagle.  The Eagle is a line thru bait and it weighs a good 4-5 ounces.  It’s a straight up bigbait and was the first bait I ever committed to fishing for days and days.    The problem with the Eagle was hook up ratios.

swimbait hook harness for the Eagle swimbait
This is the stock hook setup for the Eagle. Hook up ratios were a real problem in the early days with this rig. Even though this hook setup is worthless fo the Eagle, notice the skills and the ability to use crimps, figure eights and 80# mono to create a double stinger trap hook. Note to self, save this, you will want to re-use this harness on another bait with for another application, someday.

We (Cameron Smith, my pal from Dana Point, CA) and I were fishing San Vicente lake back around 2001-2003 quite heavily with the Eagle.  Looking back on it, it is funny because I’m not kidding I would miss 5-8 bites per day on this rig.   It wasn’t until Cameron and I got to tinkering that we made some adjustments.  I remember Rob Belloni came fishing with me on San Vicente one day.  He took one look at the Eagle and the stock hook harness and told me I need way bigger hooks, maybe play with rigging?    Bass World West was going on in Southern California and so was Anglers Marine.  Both places had their own ways of rigging up Osprey’s, Eagles, etc.  It’s hard to say where exactly this stuff came from but we wanted hanging trebles, bigger hooks and had to leverage the line-thru design because those were the baits of the day…The Rising Son, The Rago Trout (name escapes me, Jerry’s original line-thru) and the Eagle kept me busy for years.   Our hookup ratios went way up with our modifications, but God what I’d do to go back in time and have those days back.   The fish were there and eating.  We’d just miss a lot. Upper water column swimming bait that we’d fish super fast at times.  Burning it, popping it, making it look like a trout trying to escape.  Probably not always the best retrieve, but it worked for us, for a time.

Eagle Swimbait with stock hook harness
Here is the Eagle with the stock harness properly oriented as if it was rigged. 4 trebles pointing down and we still missed most of the bites. This bait swims in the upper water colum and doesn't get inhaled like a Hudd much, hanging and bigger treble setups soon followed. Fish would literally bounce off the bait.

Here is what we did in response and the evolution of our rigs and rigging.  Double barrel crimps, 80# mono for the harness, cut paper clips, split rings and Gamakatsu hooks.  You can tell my early swimbait rigs and trials because my baits have Gamakatsu treble hooks on them.  I have long since been fishing Owner.    Just a superior family of treble hooks in my opinion, hands down.

eaglette swimbait rigging
The Eaglette, the smaller version of the Eagle. Notice the harness, allowed us to put a treble hook under the chin of the bait to catch the fish that made the kill shots to the head,and had a rear trap that either dangled below or was imbedded up in the bait. The size of the Eaglette coupled with this setup made our hookup ratios go way up.
Eaglette Harness
Notice, cut paper clips. The paper clips up front for the trap hook under the chin had to be modified to fit around the line thru created by the OEM. We are still modifying paper clips to fit our Huddleston's today. Used a split ring as where to tie your line, and created loops and and hook hangers with crimps and 80# mono.
3 treble harness rig for Eagle
Here is a 3 hook setup harness that we used on the full sized Eagle. One hook under the chin, one right below the line-thru, and one near the rear fins. This was creative, and helped us get more fish to stick that came up on the Eagle.
three treble harness for Eagle swimbait
Here is the 3 treble harness rig, better visualized how it sat on the bait. That's a lot of hardware on a bait, but it definitely helped get fish to stick.
2 hook harness
Full sized Eagle with a 2 hook harness rigging. The rear treble was dangling and this is a definite pre-cursor to where we got our Southern Trout Eaters Huddleston Rigging. Cut paper clips and double barrel crimps and 80#. Too small a rear hook for sure, looking back on it. Still, we caught them much better on this rig, way less hardware than the 3 hook harness which tends to foul up quite often let alone get bit as well.
sample harnesses
The 3 hook, 2 hook and stock trap hook rigs we used for baits like the Eagle, Rago Soft Trout bait and Rising Son
The early line thru baits
Back in the day it was all about Eagles, Ospreys/Rago, and Rising Son baits. This was pre-Huddleston Deluxe 8" Rainbow trout. These baits fished well near or at the surface, but are limited in so many ways compared to the Huddleston
the early line thru baits
The Rago Osprey was custom rigged to become a line thru in this case with a small coffee stirring straw, while the Rising Son wisely used a plastic insert. The Eagle used a machined piece of aluminum as the line thru and I can tell you there are a couple of Eagles at the bottom of San Vicente that broke off on the cast with 20# P-Line. Stupid me should have been using way heavier line and been more diligent about checking for burrs in the machined aluminum.

And then came the Castaic SoftBait Company.   Not that they ever went anywhere, it was all the sudden coming together.   Ken Huddleston used to work for Castaic or own it or something along those lines.  Ken had direct involvement in Castaic Bait Company for a time and that can be seen in this next evolution.  These soft Castaics are a definite precursor to the 8″ Huddleston Deluxe   You had to literally remove the internal stock harness of the Castaic bait, then use a coffee stir straw to create a line thru and come out the belly at the right angle and get it all right, then create your double hook harness.  The crazy thing was, I nailed this rig the first time I attempted it, and I caught a fish around the Chimney area of San Vicente within the first 15 minutes of fishing the rig, and the fish choked it.   About a 6 pounder.  Anyway, to me, this modified and glued up and line-thru’d Castaic rig is a clear connection to where we are with the Huddleston Deluxe today.

castaic swimbait
Removed the internal 'top hook' harness from the bait, glued it back together, created a line thru with a coffee stir straw, and leveraged a double hook harness rig. Clearly headed in the direction of the Huddleston Deluxe of today.

And here is a Castaic Sardine with a trap hook rigging.  I will drop down to 60# mono and use the same 1.0B double barrel crimps to have a little bit lighter and more flexible harness that fits the smaller baits better.  The Castaic Sardine is an excellent bait for those looking to explore blueback herring.   If you do a little homework on herring and sardines, you’ll find the two are quite related, and both saltwater run.

castaic sardine rig
The Castaic Sardine with a mini version of our trap hook setup.
castaic sardine swimbait rig
Up close, those are #2 and #4 ST-36 Stingers....way too light weight of hooks for me now. This rig caught them Lake Lanier fish pretty good one spring for me. But they inhaled it. I'd probably use ST-56 in the same sizes now, but the bottom line is you can rig small swimbaits with a harness and double trap rig. I masked the hooks and hardware to match the belly of the bait, again all relating to things we did to get to our current Hudd rig.

There has been a lot of trial and error in our rigs and rigging and there will continue to be more.  The better you get with rigging and the tools of rigging, the more you’ll be able to create your own rigs for your own applications.