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Lure Review



A Big Bladed Kick in the Bass : The Donkey Slayer


Date: 2/7/24
Tackle Type: Lures
Manufacturer: Donkey Slayer
Reviewer: Zander


Introduction: The Donkey Slayer is a handcrafted bladed jig, distinguished by its massive blade, hand polished or plated tungsten head, and paired with hand-tied hybrid silicone and living rubber skirts. Originating from the California Delta region, this custom lure has undergone seven years of development, been successfully leveraged in numerous tournaments, and thus far remaining exclusive to a select group of anglers in the know. However, the time has come for its creator to introduce the bait to the broader public, and as the brand prepares to kick out their first drop we delve into the bait’s background story, intricate design features, and effectiveness of the sleeper that is the big-bladed Donkey Slayer.


Donkey Slayer Bladed Jig Specifications

Type Vibrating Giant Bladed Jig 
Skirt Material Silicone and Living Rubber (full flare and able to be trimmed)
Weight 1/2 - 1 oz. (depending on model)
Colors/Patterns 10+ (Based on custom builds that exist. First public drop will be white/chartreuse)
Hook Gamakatsu (Aaron Martens series hook)
Additional Features Powder coated tungsten weight, polished or powder coated blades, hardened and hand polished stainless steel main-wire, hand tied skirts, Owner welded quick snap (60lb.), hybrid wire and shrink tube trailer keeper, custom patterns available
MSRP $39.99

The Donkey Slayer is a custom made giant bladed jig

Impressions: When people ask me whether I like a bait or not, I usually provide a quick yes or no based on my personal experience. However, the reality is that every bait, especially garage-built custom lures, usually has a much deeper story. My Donkey Slayer story started much longer ago than I even expected, and goes back over a decade.

It is designed to pair with a variety of full sized trailers

Last summer, while fishing wakebaits, a boat pulled up nearby and the angler aboard asked me a few questions about my Garmin Force trolling motor setup, as he was running the same motor on his boat. After a few quick exchanges, he introduced himself as John Vano and asked if I was from TackleTour, stating that we had met before. As I wracked my brain trying to put a face to the name, he told me that we had met 12 years ago at Hi’s Tackle Box, one of the local tackle shops in San Francisco that I often frequented. The light bulb finally went off when he mentioned Dean Yoshizumi, who had introduced us and was the one that showed him how to make baits. Dean had previously worked at Hi’s and is both a line and wire savant of sorts, with skills in metalwork and small tools acquired from his background as a jewelry maker. When we designed our line tests, he was one of the people we consulted with, and during the early days of the A-Rig craze, he created some very popular handmade rigs, including the “Crazy 8,” on which I personally caught some very memorable fish on at Clear Lake.

John Vano (Metalflakemarvin on IG) is the designer and builder of the Donkey Slayer

John then told me about a wire bait that he had designed, which a group of local anglers had been fishing on the California Delta. He described it as a giant bladed jig. I responded that I would certainly be interested in checking it out, but also declared, “Just a heads up I'm a Chatterbait and especially a Jackhammer guy.” To which he responded that he totally understood but was interested to see what I thought of his design. Anytime I hear about a new bladed jig design, I am always a bit skeptical, but my interest was piqued.

Up until now the bait has been custom made is very small quantities but the brand is preparing for a first public drop

A few weeks later, I met with John to see and fish the Donkey Slayer on our home water of the California Delta. My first impressions of the Donkey Slayer were that the overall profile of the bait was massive, the twisted wire to football head design was interesting, and the quality of the skirt and how it was affixed to the bait appeared very solid.

Each Donkey Slayer will come packaged in this compact envelope

The Donkey Slayer weighed more than most bladed jigs that I was used to throwing, at 3/4 oz. and 1 oz., and came fitted with a tungsten head weight and Gamakatsu hook. John showed me a variety of patterns with various combinations of polished or colored blades with matching heads. I learned that he was polishing all the blade components by hand, and on the colored versions, he also personally powder-coats the blades and heads.

Donkey Slayer prototypes and custom builds have featured a wide array of configurations. Blades and heads for examples can be polished or powder coated. The first drop will likely consist of a versatile white and chartreuse combination

The skirts on the baits are all hand-tied with a combination of silicone and living rubber. Even the steel wire utilized to tie all the individual components together is methodically polished and hand-wound. Similar to a hand-tied fly or garage-made swimbait, everything in this giant bladed jig is custom. It was clear this bait was handmade in every sense of the word, and John was literally using his own hands to construct every component. The bait’s robust design was impressive, but the big question was: would the Donkey Slayer catch fish on the Delta?

The first rod I fished the Donkey Slayer with was the NRX+ BJR rod, a stick I love fishing the Jackhammer on. While it handled 1/2oz. Donkey Slayers with no problem the larger and heavier 3/4oz. and 1oz. options combined with that massive blade were too much for this stick

Real World Tests: The first time I fished on the California Delta, John asked me which patterns I would like to tie on first. The two colors that are staples on the “Dirty D” are white and red, and these were the two baits that I reached for initially. The first rod I used with the Donkey Slayer was the G.Loomis NRX+ BJR rod, a favorite of mine for fishing the Jackhammer. However, I quickly realized that I was under-rodded for the task. The Donkey Slayers primarily come in 3/4  and 1 oz. configurations, and there is a lighter 1/2oz. option. I learned that the heavier tungsten weights pair better with the oversized blade design, aiding the bait in quickly reaching the strike zone and running more effectively.

Heading out on the Delta with John to learn more about the Donkey Slayer's design and to see what it could really do

Next Section: This Donkey kicks hard!









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