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Custom Jigs Pro Staff

CHRIS BRESSLER (MINNESOTA)

An experienced multi-species and tournament angler, Chris has fished all across the Ice Belt on the Trap Attack, True Ice and the NAIFC tournament circuit. Most recently, Chris has been on the leading edge of the Slender Spoon revolution, using both the Slender Spoon and Pro Series Slender Spoons to target trophy walleyes, pike, perch, and crappies from Nebraska to Canada.

An ice fishing ambassador, Chris always takes time to talk tactics and tackle with anyone looking to improve their angling knowledge. He also spends countless hours in the off-season combing through his ice tackle and gear, ensuring that when it comes to landing the big fish, or capturing that moment in a photo, he will be ready no matter the on-ice scenario.

Finally, if you want to see Chris at his best, point him at a new body of water or on a tough bite, and he will chase down the schools and throw the highest-quality presentations at them until they bite. Ultimately for Chris, pursuing fish in the harshest conditions and coming out victorious is the most satisfying quest available in the outdoors today.

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BOB GILLISPIE (IOWA)

Bob Gillispie purchased Custom Jigs & Spins from Walt & Poppee Matan in 1997. An avid fisherman, Bob had always dreamed of owning his own tackle company and now he has five! Before purchasing Custom Jigs, Bob purchased The Worm (formerly Chuck’s Worm) in 1992. He added Double “00” Lures’ Flu-Flu line of jigs in 2004 and in 2006 started up Vertiglo Tackle. Finally, in 2008, Bob purchased the B-Fish-N Tackle Company, which will solidify the Custom Jigs & Spins brand and its subsidiaries as a major force in ice fishing and open water fishing lures.

Bob’s philosophy is simple: “If we continue to offer the highest quality tackle that catches fish, we will have a successful business for many years to come!”

Custom Jigs & Spins’ lure division wants to hear from you. Drop us an e-mail, visit us on Facebook or send us a photo of your great catch on our lures!

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JP BUSHEY (ONTARIO, CANADA)

JP Bushey has spent a lifetime fishing all over north-central Ontario, from The Great Lakes to the Canadian Shield. Big water is his forte and JP’s sons will make four generations to call Georgian Bay their home. He also fishes Lake Simcoe, Lake Nipissing, the Bay of Quinte and dozens of inland lakes. A former fishing guide, active outdoor writer, educator and seminar speaker, he maintains “teaching anglers to get better will always be the juice, for me. And helping people improve their fishing success is something I’ve always got time for. Be it on paper, the Internet or at a retail appearance, I love seeing people get fired up about fishing and the strides they’re making as anglers. Any role I can play in that will always be my biggest reward.”

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DR. JASON HALFEN (WISCONSIN)

Dr. Jason Halfen is a multi-species specialist who operates The Technological Angler, a service dedicated to teaching anglers how to use modern technology to find and catch more fish. Diamond Jigs, Slender Spoons, and Ratso Finesse Plastics from Custom Jigs and Spins are essential tools in Doc’s wintertime toolbox, and once the water softens, he relies on Ringworms, Moxies, Pulse-R paddletails, and Precision Jigs from B-Fish-N Tackle to target walleyes and smallmouths in Wisconsin rivers and lakes.

Dr. Halfen has released several instructional DVDs that have helped anglers across the
globe learn to master their fishing electronics. The Technological Angler Volume 1: Success with Side Imaging teaches anglers how to use and interpret Humminbird’s powerful Side Imaging; Volume 2: Integrated Technology covers how to network, configure and use Humminbird and Minn Kota products to find and catch more fish.

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LUKE HAUGLAND (IOWA)

During his youth, Luke Haugland was an ice fishing fixture on Iowa’s Lake MacBride. After several years of fine-tuning his fish-catching skills on MacBride and others and he became a field tester for Custom Jig & Spins.

Since those formative years, Haugland has traveled throughout the Midwest in search of trophy fish through the ice, and, today continues to design baits and other products that allow anglers to catch more fish. He is adamant about teaching the next generation of anglers how to fish as well enjoy every aspect of the sport, including the importance of selective harvest to ensure a positive fishing future.

Haugland has appeared on many TV shows, including “Midwest Outdoors” and “In-Depth Outdoors.” He has been the subject of many articles, and has written extensively for Midwest Outdoors Magazine, idofishing.com, wefishiowa.com, iowaoutdoors.com and thornebros.com.

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PAT KALMERTON (WISCONSIN)

Pat Kalmerton grew up in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, learning to hunt and fish under the instruction of father Roy Kalmerton, a lifelong outdoorsman and Wisconsin DNR officer of 30 years. By age 12, Pat was first-mating on charter boats—by 20 he’d earned his U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license. Today he owns and operates Wolfpack Charters on Lake Michigan.

Pat quickly developed a reputation as an expert angler and hunter with abilities beyond his years, partially due to the lessons in conservation biology and sportsmen’s ethics that his father stressed as necessary to become a “complete outdoorsman.”

Whether it’s through TV, radio, fishing and hunting magazines, educational seminars, or sharing the day’s adventure with clients, Pat considers it a privilege to have that interaction and perhaps make their next fishing or hunting trip even more successful. It’s hard for him to keep quiet long if he thinks he can help others improve their fishing and hunting.

“I thrive on showing my clients how to catch fish,” says Kalmerton. “Whether it’s the first fish they’ve ever caught or a once-in-a-lifetime trophy, that’s where my passion is.”

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KEVIN FASSBIND (WISCONSIN)

Kevin Fassbind is a year-round tournament angler, targeting bass on open water and panfish through the ice. Kevin has made a total of 12 Wisconsin Bass Federation and Wisconsin BASS Nation State Teams, including being crowned 2009 State Champion. Among his accomplishments, he won the 2006 state Mr. Bass tournament. Kevin has also earned “Team of the Year” status five times in team tournament trails. On hardwater, Kevin and his ice fishing partner Nick Smyers have seven Top Three tournament finishes since they began fishing the NAIFC in 2010, including a second and third place finish in the last two NAIFC National Championships. The team has also earned second place Team of the Year honors for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. When Kevin isn’t fishing competitively, he’s instructing other anglers how to find and catch more fish.

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LOREN KEIZER (MINNESOTA)

Loren took up fishing at a later age than many, but since he was “hooked,” he has made quick work of becoming an expert in the field. Over the years he has surrounded himself with a core group of great anglers, guides, and professionals who taught him the finer points of angling, ice fishing in particular.

Living in the “Heart of Lakes Country” in Detroit Lakes, MN, allows Loren to spend countless hours on the water fishing, learning and teaching others to enjoy angling and everything that goes along with it. One of his greatest joys is teaching others to fish, especially his boys Lucas and Caleb. He hopes that they can develop a love for fishing and the outdoors like he has.

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PHIL LAUBE (MINNESOTA)

Phil Laube, better known among his ice fishing friends as “PFP” (Panfish Phil), grew up ice fishing in north-central Wisconsin. When not working on the family farm, his dad would take Phil and his brother fishing to nearby reservoirs or lakes in pursuit of bluegills, crappies and perch.

After college, Phil moved to Montana for two years and spent most of his winters fishing walleyes on Lake Fort Peck. When the opportunity came to move to Minnesota’s Brainerd Lakes area, he jumped on the opportunity. His primary reason for the move was the endless fishing opportunities in northern Minnesota.

For the last 20 years, he has spent his free time in search of icing big bluegills and crappies— only taking short breaks to chase down walleyes, northern pike and whitefish.

He prefers power fishing, always on the move looking for the next lake with giant pans. The pursuit of 10-inch ’gills and 14-inch crappies makes every new lake an adventure.

In addition to the pursuit of big panfish, Phil spends most of his time taking his four kids and their friends ice fishing. Just like his father, he wants to pass on the ice fishing tradition to future generations.

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RUSS MADDIN (MICHIGAN)

Russ Maddin has been a fly-fishing guide in Northwest Lower Michigan since 1995. In fact, teaching others the art of angling has been this Traverse City, Michigan, resident’s only job—ever. And it’s from his fly-tying vice that some of the most innovative and advanced flies have come to creation.

But when the Great Lakes State’s frigid winter envelopes rivers and lakes in ice, Maddin’s passion (and we mean passion) turns to ice fishing. From hefty panfish to huge trout and salmon as well everything in-between, Maddin uses all makes and models Custom Jigs & Spins baits. “I have been tying Custom Jigs & Spins’ lures to my line since the very first day I started ice fishing, and they have been a staple in my tackle totes ever since.”

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TY MACHELEDT (MINNESOTA & DAKOTAS)

Growing up in the heart of Otter Tail County, I was blessed to start fishing at a young age, and became a third generation guide in our family. My passion grew as I got older and I started to take clients fishing in the summer. But ice fishing has always been my favorite! Now I live and work in South Central North Dakota, fishing the prairie pothole lakes. Whether it’s chasing trophy perch in a small slough, or walleyes, pike, or crappies on bigger waters, I live to take others fishing and teach them what I have learned from my years fishing. I’ve been a CJS fan since day one ’cause their baits flat-out catch fish.

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CHEKAI MATAN (CROATIA)

Chekai is a man of many faces ... all of them have beard, hat and glasses! He operates a small Chekai factory in Lepoglava, Croatia, where his Tungsten Heavy Metal ice jigs are fabricated by local craftsmen and craftswomen and shipped to America to Custom Jigs & Spins via hot air balloon, just in time for excited fishermen!

“Chekai is always be movies buff. With newest lapstop computer, TRS-180, Chekai watching all classic movies. Stars War and Wizards of Oslo, are Chekai’s favorites! So Chekai decide why not make it small episodes of classic movies with me, Chekai as star and rest of Custom Jigs crew for helpers? I think we did good jobs!”

So, a new collection of Custom Jigs & Spins “Great Moments in Cinema History” commercials has been released. Watch for them on MidWest Outdoors TV and you can find a link to them from www.customjigs.com website and YouTube. There are eight vignettes in all covering the classics!

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WALT & POPPEE MATAN (ILLINOIS)

In 1989, Walt & Poppee took over Custom Jigs & Spins and operated for about 8 years, taking it from a small basement operation to the manufacturing juggernaut it is today.

When they realized that they needed a “face” for the company—rather than hire an ad agency—Walt & Poppee decided to teach and promote ice fishing on their own. The only problem was, that they had never actually gone ice fishing. Since then, Walt & Poppee educated themselves and millions of ice anglers; having had nearly 1,000 articles on ice fishing published in various publications such as Midwest Outdoors and Fishing Facts. They’ve also appeared in dozens of In-Fisherman articles.

Unlike other “pro” anglers who have ghost writers, Walt & Poppee are proud to have written all of their own articles and provided their own photography.

Along the way, the duo has appeared in dozens of Midwest Outdoors TV episodes and several episodes of In-Fisherman TV. Their crazy antics are well known in Custom Jigs & Spins’ many zany commercials over the years … which they starred in and directed!

Show biz aside, they’re just a couple regular guys who love ice fishing, have fun doing it, but enjoy helping viewers and readers become better fishermen, too.

Walt & Poppee are still on staff at CJ&S, developing new products. Their designs have changed how ice anglers fish. The Ratso and Shrimpo challenged the necessity of live bait; Gill Pills and Diamond Jigs made precision panfish jigs the norm for every angler; they introduced two-tone glow finishes via the Demon; and their Chekai and Majmun jigs have made super-premium Tungsten affordable and available to all! And last we heard, Walt and Poppee are already beta-testing awesome new bait designs for next year!

Walt’s personal World Record achievement includes a C&R 38” flathead cat on 2 lb. test ... Poppee’s biggest achievement is still having his son by his side, doing what he loves most...ice fishing!

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CAPTAIN TROY PETERSON (WISCONSIN)

Best known as “Mr. Bluegill”—Troy Peterson is a multi-species angler and full-time fishing guide who has appeared on many TV shows including “Fishing the Midwest with Bob Jensen”, “Midwest Outdoors”, “Outdoors Wisconsin” and other local Wisconsin sport shows. Troy has also written and been featured in numerous articles, including Midwest Outdoors Magazine, Fishing Facts, Wisconsin Outdoor News, Fishing and Hunting News, Wisconsin Outdoor Journal, ESPN, The Outdoor Gazette, various Visitor’s Guides, The Badger Sportsman and various websites. Along with fishing, Troy is an avid photographer, videographer and multi-media producer in the outdoors field, having photos published across America and video segments shown on “Midwest Outdoors” TV and different webcasts.

Troy is one of the best educators around, organizing and participating in events
throughout the year including youth outings and seminars throughout the Midwest. His multi-media presentations will leave you full of new techniques, knowledge and tricks to take out on the water for all species of fish in the Great Lakes area. For more information on Troy, visit his website at www.mrbluegill.com.

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GRANT PROKOP (MINNESOTA)

I feel blessed to have grown up in the land of 10,000 lakes, where I have opportunities to explore new waters every day! The thrill of exploring new lakes and finding hidden honey holes has fueled my passion even further for ice fishing. With over 1,000 lakes in Itasca County alone, I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to master the art of fooling finicky bluegills, crappies, walleyes, and trout in Northern Minnesota’s inland lakes. I stay on the cutting edge of the ice fishing industry by guiding and running my new sporting goods store in Cohasset, Minnesota (Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods). I’m a big fan of Custom Jigs & Spins—what more can I say? They just plain catch fish!

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JESSE QUALE (WISCONSIN)

Jesse Quale has been the owner and operator of Green Water Walleyes Guide Service for over 17 years in central Wisconsin.  He is the premier guide on Castle Rock and Petenwell, having lived there his entire life.  He can handle small to large groups of anglers and furnishes all the equipment you need to have a great day on the ice.

Jesse catches a ton of fish jigging 4.5 mm Chekai jigs each season.  He is also a big fan of the RPM and Slender Spoon for crappie, white bass, walleye and catfish.  You will learn how to effectively fish these lures if you fish with Jesse.

Besides guiding, Jesse has fished tournaments for over 20 years, including the MWC, RCL, WWA, WATT, Team Extreme, Team Walleye and many regional and club tournaments. “Through all of these experiences I’ve learned I enjoy teaching other outdoorsmen techniques that make them more successful anglers and hunters.”

Whether open-water or ice, Quale is sought after for his fish-catching knowledge of the Castle Rock, Petenwell and various Wisconsin Flowage waters. Contact Jesse at www.greenwaterwalleyes.com.

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NICK SMYERS (WISCONSIN)

Nick Smyers is a year-round tournament angler, targeting panfish through the ice and bass on open water. Nick and his ice fishing partner Kevin Fassbind have seven Top Three tournament finishes since they began fishing the North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC) in 2010. The team earned 2nd place in overall points standings for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Besides competing, Smyers and Fassbind often give presentations at seminars put on by the NAIFC, detailing their strategies for locating and catching fish.

In addition, Smyers has made five Wisconsin Bass Federation State Teams, including being crowned state champion in 2012. One of Smyers’ highest achievements came in 2009 when he finished in second place at the TBF National Championship and qualified for the BFL All-American. Nick earned his way back again this year and will be taking another shot at the TBF Living the Dream package.

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JASON RYLANDER (MINNESOTA)

Jason Rylander was born and raised in West Central Minnesota. His first fishing memories are of catching bluegills with his grandpa off the family dock. At age 10, Jason was exploring the lake from a 14 foot boat with a 10hp motor. His passion for fishing grew. Years later, college brought him to Bemidji, MN, where he and his family now make their home. Currently, Jason guides for North Country Guide Service and heads the Turtle River Walleye league, a league that began in the late 1980s.

“The best thing about guiding is helping a client catch a ‘first’ or a ‘biggest’; nothing beats the smiles and joy in their eyes,” says Rylander.

He also enjoys taking kids outdoors, especially his two sons.

In the boat, Jason prefers to chase walleyes. Once the water gets hard, he loves chasing panfish around the Bemidji area. He’s also a self-admitted “burbot junkie,” who loves the pursuit, fight and occasional table fare that oft-overlooked eelpout provide.

Feel free to contact Jason through www.northcountryguides.com.

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REED YLITALO (MINNESOTA)

I call myself very fortunate to have a great wife who supports me in chasing the dream of a young professional hunting and fishing guide. I strive to call in waterfowl and put the fish under my clients whether we are in the boat or standing in the ice. My goal every day is to provide my clients with a trip of a lifetime! Along the way, I’ve been blessed to work with Custom Jigs & Spins products. They continue to catch fish trip after trip! Some of my go-to baits are Custom Jigs & Spins’ tungstens, like the Chekai and Majmun. When fishing shallower, I’ll turn to the ’Gill Pill or small Demons. From big ’gills to crappies to walleyes and pike, there isn’t a species or bait category missing from CJS! And for open water, B Fish N Tackle makes wickedly-good plastics, H20 Precision Jigs are a staple in my fishing arsenal! Contact Reed at wingsandwalleyesguideservice.com.

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MIKE GATE (ONTARIO)

Mike Gate is owner/operator of Sunset Cove Resort and Gate's Bait on Lake of the Woods.  He has been guiding since the age of 13 and he knows waters well.  Besides running a 4 season resort, fishing, hunting, flying bush planes and raising his family, Mike can be seen on many episodes of Outdoor Bound Television.

Mike along with his wife, Erin, welcome you to Sunset Cove.  It is a 'year round resort, with fantastic ice fishing in the winter.  It is here when crappie, perch, walleye and lake trout put on the feed bag and Mike is ready with an arsenal of Custom Jigs & Spins lures to tempt them.  You can find more info on Sunset Cove Resort at www.sunsetcoveresort.net or on facebook:  Mike Gate or Sunset Cove Resort & Gates Bait

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PAPA KARL HUNTER (ILLINOIS)

Papa Karl has been living along the shores of the Mississippi River all his life.  This river rat follows walleye, catfish, white bass, bluegill and crappie as the seasons change.  A retired pharmacist, Papa Karl follows his son-in-law and CJS owner Bob Gillispie along on most ice fishing and open water adventures as his personal medicine man.

Karl prefers to ply the hardwater of the Mississippi River backwaters and small ponds in Iowa and Illinois above all else.  He is also a big proponent of the Flu Flu and uses it year round for all species, especially walleye.  Look for Papa Karl on the Custom Jigs & Spins youtube channel!
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