Legendary fisherman Sam Heaton once earned a living by guiding for crappie on Alabama’s Lake Weiss, a relatively shallow, lowland lake filled with stumps, logs and standing timber. He spent a lot of time fishing for crappie the old fashioned way:  one pole, one hook.

Over time and repeated effort, Heaton learned what made a good jigging rod. At the top of the list was weight. Next was sensitivity to feel the often subtle tick of a crappie inhaling a jig. Last was having enough backbone to horse a slab crappie out of heavy cover before it could find a limb to hang on to.

Having tried and found many rods wanting, Heaton made a plea to his rod sponsor,  B’n’M Poles of West Point, Miss., to build him a better jig rod. The response was, “You design it, we’ll build it.”

“You take a 7-foot rod and hold it out extended in one hand all day,” Heaton said. “It will slap wear you out. Not to mention the more tired you get, the less you enjoy fishing, and ain’t that what it’s all about?”

Built to his design, B’n’M produced the Sam Heaton Signature Series jig pole. The rod was a favorite of single-pole crappie anglers for more than 10 years.

This year, B’n’M added some of the latest technology and designed the jig pole, keeping pace with the strength, weight and sensitivity of the original design. Improvements include replacing the old ceramic guides with Dyna-Flo guides for smooth line retrieval and replacing the foam handles with a cork knob handle for outstanding balance and feel.