By Jeff Samsel

“It’s still my favorite topwater lure,” Keith Bird said about a Knuckle-Head as he repeatedly snapped his rod downward to create big chugging splashes and put the lure’s jointed body into motion.

Bird said “still” because he and I got to fish Knuckle-Heads together in Venice, La., when Knuckle-Heads were brand new, more than 15 years ago. The bull reds were looking up that week and couldn’t resist our big jointed poppers. In fact, we had multiple double and even triple topwater hooks-ups that day and Bird continued to do the same thing through the end of that summer and fall.

Bird has been regularly throwing Knuckle-Heads ever since, and they remain his topwater lure of choice any time he is targeting big redfish. Bird and the redfish reminded me why last week when I got to spend another day in the boat with him, along with his son, Ben.

The first two surface strikes of the morning were violent hits and misses. The third strike, which was even more vicious than the two before, resulted in a solid hook-up. In fact, when Bird netted the first redfish of the day for Ben and swung it into the boat, the lure was nowhere to be seen. The fish, which we estimated to weigh about 30 pounds, had all 5 inches of Knuckle-Head inside its mouth.

Bird likes the Knuckle-Head’s big splash and its profile, which suggests the mullet that bull reds like to eat. He also likes that a Knuckle-Head weighs 1 ½ ounces, so he can make long casts to breaking fish, and it’s constructed to withstand abuse from large, powerful fish. He typically works it with a steady cadence of hard downward sweeps, each of which create a big splash.

Bird’s favorite Knucklehead colors are Chrome/Blue Back and Chrome/Black Back, although some of his battle-worn Knuckle-Heads look like Bone lures, with little splotches of Chrome.