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Fishing with Kenny | The Making of a Ditch Donkey

By Nathan Coker
In Fishing with Kenny
May 1st, 2024

article by Kenny Covington

With the advancements of tournament technology such as Forward-Facing Sonar, Livescope and the 360 type of units, Glide Baits have become increasingly popular and a deadly tool for tournament anglers.  While these types of lures can be effective in all types of water scenarios, they have proven deadly in clearer water bodies of water, such as Caney and Claiborne, drawing big bass out of the various depths, changing the way a generation of anglers are learning to fish.   

Chris Patton is a tinkerer.  For as long as he can remember, he was always building baits.  From early memories of building buzzbaits, jigs and other “normal” fishing stuff with his dad, Chris was always one to tinker or fix something, even if it wasn’t necessarily broken, trying to make it better.  This life lesson can easily be attributed to what lead Chris Patton to create his version of a glide bait called the “Ditch Donkey.”

The initial idea for making a glide bait came to Chris almost out of necessity.  “I bought a couple $250-$300 glide baits that weren’t very well made or produced,” he explained.  “They wouldn’t swim right or work the way I thought they were supposed to and it was frustrating to say the least.  It was hard to justify paying that much money for something you hope will work after you take it out of the package. After trying several things to make them work right, nothing worked.”  And so, the journey began…

Chris continued, “When my fishing partner Brennan Flick was having the same experiences, which is when I decided to build my own glide baits.  Once I started the process, I began to understand why some of these baits cost as much as they do.  It is very labor intensive and if you are OCD like me, it’s even worse.  The initial idea was to build a few of them for myself, as well as a few buddies.  Soon after, however, it escalated into a completely different animal.  Now, my whole goal behind every “Ditch Donkey” is to produce a high-quality bait but still keep the price where it was affordable for the angler and help them catch more fish in the process.”

Where did the name “Ditch Donkey” come from?

“This was an inside joke between me and “Joy,” when we first got together.  She had absolutely no clue about fishing but one day I made the remark to her that I was going to go catch some “ditch pickles” and then, a few days later, while fishing a tournament, she asked how we were doing, and I told her I had caught some donkeys.  Well, she got confused and sent me a text asking if I had caught any ditch donkeys.  When I was trying to come up with a name for my bait company, when she suggested we call it “Ditch Donkey”, I gave it some consideration, so the name stuck.”

Why the focus on a hand-made bait?

“From my experience, on mass produced plastic baits, all of them are made the same.  You can buy a dozen plastic made lures and maybe half of them or even less will produce and catch fish.  My number one goal and when you buy one of my Ditch Donkey lures, you tie it on, it works and fishes exactly the way it is supposed to!!  I don’t want to see someone on a YouTube video explaining the modifications needed to make my lures to work correctly.  I do not want people to waste their money, because it’s not about making a profit, it’s knowing that every bait I sell is perfect and the customer will be successful with it.  I make sure every bait that leaves my house is one I would throw.  Right now, the Ditch Donkey’s come in 4 sizes: a 5 ½, 7, 7 ½, and a 9” and I am constantly working to try and build up my inventory.  It is a labor of love!”

How did the advancement of tournament technology drive you to create the “Ditch Donkey?”

Glide baits and big swim baits have been around for a very long time, especially in north California and places like.  Those guys have used them for decades, but their lakes are more conducive to these lures and techniques due to the makeup of their fisheries.  However, once the advancements of technology allowed the angler to see where all the structure and cover was in the southern fisheries, the ability to use glide baits and big swimbaits opened another window of opportunity in our sport.  Now we can easily pinpoint where to cast these lures without the fear of losing it.

Chris’ Ditch Donkey tips:

Make sure you have the correct rod/reel set up.  For the bigger lures, use a 7’9”-7’10” rod medium/heavy fast action with a 10-12” butt on the rod, it makes a huge difference in lure control.  When throwing the the smaller glide baits, a 7” MH rod is a good starting point.

Before you fish with a Ditch Donkey, practice throwing it in a pool or pond, anywhere you can see the bait and how the bait reacts to certain cadences and rod movements.  What does it do with quick chops of the reel handle or if you snap the lure using just the rod and a quick reel handle turn?  Experiment until you have a good understanding of how the bait works.

Like all other lures in this category, you must keep it in your hands for it to be efficient.  In a day’s time you may only get 6 bites a day but usually there worth it!

The more stained the water the more precise you must be with your presentations.  In clear water they will come from several feet away to strike the lure.

While catching them is the goal, sometimes the best aspect of a glide bait is it allows you to find fish, even though you might not always catch them.

Well, it looks like we have run out of space and time again for this month.  I want to thank Chris Patton for taking the time out of his schedule to talk to me about the Ditch Donkey and its creation.  If you would like any additional information on the Ditch Donkey line of lures, look Chris Patton up on Facebook, call him at 318-548-1281 or go to Ditchdonkeycustombaits@yahoo.net.  You will be glad you did!

Be sure you catch one for me and I will see you next month!