Every now and again an angler runs across a product that he believes in, something that makes a measurable difference in his fishing. That's the story behind Preston Clark and JJ's Magic (www.jjsmagic.com).
"I met this guy (J.J. Polak) in Georgia while I was doing an appearance for a local bass club. He gave me a bottle of JJ's Magic, a dipping dye solution for plastics," says the two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier from Palatka, Fla. "I put it away you know, you get so much of that stuff and didn't think about it after that.
"Finally he called me and basically shamed me into giving it a try. Its first real test was the Elite Series tournament on Lake Erie this year. I was impressed. It seemed like the bass were grabbing my bait harder and holding on longer.
"I used it a couple of weeks ago at the Central Open on Kentucky Lake where we were all having trouble with keepers. That's the experience that really sold me. I've never seen anything work like that stuff."
What he means is that nearly every angler in the tournament was having trouble finding keepers. Fish around 14 inches were everywhere; those measuring 15 inches or better (a keeper at that venue) were few and far between. On the final day he started using JJ's Magic on his plastics and Clark's situation improved quickly.
"It was amazing! As soon as I started using it my bite increased, both in quantity and in quality. Because of it I moved up 16 places in one day. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it."
From Clark's perspective it appears as if the dye and, more importantly, the scent actually impregnates the plastic. In his opinion they become one and the same.
"The color penetrates immediately and appears to change the color of the plastic. The color change isn't just on the surface. It looks like it's the plastic itself that changes. But the scent is even more impressive.
"The garlic smell is nasty. I mean, it turns your stomach. Most scents last for a few casts or maybe part of a day at the most. JJ's Magic lasts all day on the lure and in your boat. It smells as strong at the end of the day as it did when you first put it on."
J.J. Polak, the man who developed the product, is proud to hear anglers describe his product as nasty and stomach turning. That was his goal when he started working on it several years ago.
"We wanted to take a good idea and make it a great idea. Garlic scents have been around for a long time, and they work. Their big drawback, however, is their short life span. We set out to change that.
"Our product has its roots in an old secret Georgia formula that's been around for decades. We took it to the next level. It's a good plastic dye and stinks to high heavens. And it stays that way over hours and hours of fishing.
"I can't tell you how we make it or what ingredients we use. That's a secret. But I can tell you there's nothing like it available on the market. The color and smell doesn't just lay on the surface of the bait. It actually works its way into the plastic."
JJ's Magic is made in four colors: clear, chartreuse, methylate (red) and blue. According to Clark, they can be combined for dramatic, and effective, results.
"One of the best ways to use this product is to combine colors so you can duplicate the natural colors of the local crayfish. As you know, crayfish change hues every time they shed their shell. JJ's Magic is perfect for duplicating their color changes as the year moves along."
"I've been doing that since the Erie event with great success," Clark adds. "One of the best late summer, early fall colors is to dip a green pumpkin chunk into the red dye. It changes the lure to a dark burnt orange hue that duplicates late season crayfish almost perfectly. If you mess around with the colors you can do that all year long."
Polak dips entire baits in his solution when he wants to change the lure's overall color. But when he wants to be more precise with things, he'll apply the dye with a Q-Tip, adding a touch of color here and there. He also uses Sharpie markers to add eyes, gill plates and other subtle touches than can mean the difference a bite and nothing at all.
To see Polak's artistry in action, check out these videos:
"Next year I intend to use them to customize jigs, spinnerbait skirts and maybe plastic jerkbaits," Clark says. "With practice I think I can match almost any local forage, anywhere in the country."
This is strong stuff. If you're going to give JJ's Magic a try be aware of the following:
1. Store it below 105 degrees below 95 degrees is even better. If you open the container above 105 degrees, the liquid will boil away.
2. Keep it in the original glass container. It will evaporate if stored in plastic.
3. It will destroy Berkley Gulp, Strike King 3X products or older plastic baits.
4. It will seriously damage the finish on most hard baits.
5. It will work on most of the newer spinnerbait and jig skirts.