By Todd Ceisner
BassFan Editor

Roughly 45 minutes after the doors swung open Wednesday to kick off ICAST 2015, I met the man shown in the above photo. His name is Jon Hair. He co-owns The Tackle Shop, a tackle store with a storefront in a little shopping plaza in Martinez, Ga., nestled between Augusta and Clarks Hills Lake.

It’s the type of neighborhood shop where old guys, his dad, Gene, included – a group Hair calls the Q-Tips – gather each morning to drink coffee and tell fish stories. His mom, Linda, has also been a frequent member of the morning roundtables.

“They’re so much a part of my life,” Hair said of his parents. “They’re in our shop every day. They love it.”

The bait Hair’s holding in the photo has quite the story behind it – a story of love and family and heartache and the hope for a better future. It’s name is the Greenfish Tackle T.A.T. or “Totally Awesome Topwater.”

Greenfish is the tackle company Hair also helps operate out of the back of the tackle store. At ICAST this year, one of Greenfish’s featured products was a jighead built with a prop blade that FLW Tour pro Shinichi Fukae has endorsed.

But it was the T.A.T. that caught my attention early Wednesday.

It’s a balsa bait with a shape resembling that of a classic Heddon Zara Spook, except it has props at both its nose and tail. The particular model that was on display at the booth also had a blue ribbon painted on the bottom toward the rear prop. I asked Hair about its significance.

And so begins the story of the T.A.T.

Last year, a friend of Hair’s was throwing a double prop bait made by another manufacturer and he’d mentioned to Hair that Greenfish should try to make a similar bait out of balsa wood, rather than plastic.

“He wanted one that sat a little higher on the surface that you could just throw and reel back,” Hair said.

Work on the new bait began last fall and continued through the winter. Once the internal weighting and prop sizes were settled on, Hair decided to move forward with production on the bait.

On Jan. 22, though, everything in Hair’s world ground to a halt. His mom, Linda, had been diagnosed with colon cancer. The prognosis wasn’t good. She told Gene that if things got bad, she wanted the Q-Tips and guys from the shop to be her pallbearers.

Linda passed away on March 12.

“From January to March, I wasn’t in the shop a whole lot,” Hair said. “I wasn’t doing much of anything. I was in the hospital. From Jan. 22 to March 12, she was admitted to the hospital four or five times and stayed 3 or 4 days every time.”

Photo: BassFan

A percentage of proceeds from the sale of the T.A.T. will be donated to cancer awareness and research charities.

The new balsa bait was the farthest thing from his mind.

“I didn’t do much work on it,” he said. “I didn’t have time to work on packaging or anything like that, including naming it.”

Turns out that was the easy part. When Hair got back to his normal routine, those at the shop suggested he name it the T.A.T., the Totally Awesome Topwater. There was more to it than that.

Hair told the story about his family sitting around the dinner table one day a couple years ago and they were trying to figure out what Hair’s niece should call Linda, her grandmother. Gram, gramma, nana were all viable options.

“Who’s that,” they’d ask the little girl, pointing to Linda across the table.

“Tat,” she’d reply.

The name stuck.

Hair signed off on the bait’s name, but he wanted to do something more. Since the bait was to be named for his mom, he decided to add the dark blue ribbon that represents colon cancer awareness to its paint scheme.

He plans to donate a portion of proceeds from sales of the bait to cancer charities. He hasn’t determined what percentage will be donated.

“Even if we don’t make anything on this bait, it’s more for the memory of her and helping cancer awareness and cancer research,” he said. “You can’t go anywhere and not see somebody who has somehow been affected by that disease. I just want to give back something.”

To learn more about Greenfish Tackle, click here.