I want to take this opportunity to say this is the very article which inspired me to take a shot at reviving the legendary Okie Drifter. I read this article written by Bill Herzog as it was included in The Bead Fishing Bible written by Randall Bonner. The Bead Fishing Bible is sure to be a worthy addition to your library. There is plenty in there to be learned, no matter how long you have been fishing with beads.
My story doesn't start with reading the book. It starts about eight months earlier. My fishing buddy, Connor Davidson, handed me a rough looking Okie Drifter and asked if I could make them. I was already making Mercurial Beads at this time. I thought I could make them, but I didn't feel it was my place to do so. Over the coming months, Connor and I had a few more discussions about making the Okie Drifter, but he was not able to convince me to try.
Fast forward to the Portland Sportsman's Show in February of 2023. It was Saturday night of the show when Randall Bonner visited the Robolize booth. He was interested in seeing the Mercurial Beads. We had a good discussion and I followed Randall back to the Amato booth. I bought a copy of The Bead Fishing Bible and Randall signed it for me. It was a very meaningful moment for me and I will always treasure that book he signed.
In the days following the Sportsman's Show, I read the book cover to cover. I got up to the chapter about the Okie Drifter and got a little sidetracked. In that chapter by Bill, I learned a lot about the history of the Okie and why it was such a good lure. Bill closed out the article with a call to action.
"Here is a challenge for all tackle manufacturers, either solo laboring in their garage or to big companies, to try and produce a lure with more scope and deadly effectiveness of the time tested #3 nail polish Okie."
That was all the convincing I needed to attempt making the Okie Drifter. I immediately set the book down and got straight to work. Within a few days, I had several prototypes ready to fish. The main picture in this article is one of the prototypes and is the one seen in the "First Hookup" video below.
The first make of the new Okie Drifter
This video shows the very first one I made. It was far from perfect and needed a lot of refinement, but not bad for a first try.
Using the new Okie Drifter
This video is of my first time using the new Okie Drifter. I think it's worth setting come context here. We were in the dead of winter. It was very cold. The water was low and clear. As you know, these are usually tough conditions. Between Connor and I, we had thrown everything we had to throw. Live sand shrimp, coon shrimp, several egg cures, beads, spinners, spoons… Nothing was working. I rigged up the new Okie Drifter prototype and fish on! Unfortunately, I didn't stick the landing. That would have been too perfect. I did at least get to see the steelhead before he spit the hook. The Okie was the only thing that got a bite that day. This was enough for me to feel like maybe I've got something here with this new version of the Okie Drifter and so I continued to work on refining it.
What do you think?
As of this writing, the new Okie Drifter has been available for about six weeks. Thank you to all of you who have taken the chance to see if the new Okie is worth your money. There has been a reasonable amount of skepticism, but I have also received a lot of positive feedback from all of you already. It’s still too early to take a victory lap. The winter steelhead season is just getting started here in the PNW. I can comfortably say the new Okies are passing the visual test, but how do they fish?!! I think by the end of this season there will be consensus if the new Okie Drifter is worthy of bearing the name. I personally feel confident they are, but this must come from all of you. So, with that, I need your help! Please remember to share your catches with us on one of the social media platforms. We have to get those pictures shared out there so we can show the world that the Okie Drifter is alive and well and living in the PNW.
Where is the Sunrise???
We are working hard on getting a good match for the classic Sunrise/nail polish color. Hopefully it will make an appearance this season. Until then, Pink Pearl and Liquid Fire are both good alternatives to Sunrise. The Sunrise color is somewhere in between the two.
Left to Right: Pink Pearl, Sunrise (OG Grizzly), Liquid Fire