Open Kim Burnett’s tackle box, and you’ll see a rainbow of colors – neon marabou jigs that he has tied.
Very eye-catching … especially when you consider that they were designed by a guy who is color blind.
Burnett, who ties jigs for his Crappie Stopper Jigs company, can see primary colors such as red, yellow and blue. But you start going into the different shades and he has a hard time.
So how could a guy like that develop award-winning jigs and flies?
“When I go to buy the marabou I use, the colors are marked on the package,” said Burnett, 49, who lives in Olathe. “I’ll just go by that.
“Everybody is amazed when they hear I’m colorblind. It’s hereditary. My dad is color blind and so is my brother.
“But it’s not much of a handicap when I tie jigs. People always tell me how great they look.”
The fish tell him, too. Burnett is an avid crappie fisherman, and he regularly uses his own jigs to catch big fish.
Fishing at Hillsdale, Perry, Pomona and smaller lakes and private waters, he is on the water year-around and almost always has something to show for his time, even when others are having a tough time putting fish on the stringer or in the live well.
A custodial supervisor at an elementary school, he ties jigs in his spare time. It started when he became frustrated at the lack of durability of plastic baits.
“I’d catch four or five crappies or bluegills and the jig was torn up and I’d have to go to another one,” said Burnett, who spent last weekend demonstrating his jig-tying at the Topeka Boat and Outdoor Show.
So Burnett began tying his own marabou jigs, all the way from 1/80th to ¼ ounce. He also tied took up fly fishing and tied panfish and trout flies.
Today, he pours his own lead heads and makes the jigs from scratch. He has caught up to 100 crappies on one jig and has landed some lunkers, including an 18-inch fish at Pomme de Terre Lake several years ago.
Because he hand-ties every jig, he doesn’t envision a day when his business ever goes big time. For now, he is just content to do it as a hobby, tying enough jigs for himself, and selling a few to friends and others.
“It’s fun to catch fish on a lure that you made,” Burnett said. “I don’t have to go to the store to get my lures.
“I make them myself, and that’s about all I use.”