Published January 2005

Seems like every bass fisherman has his or her own personal favorite fishing lures, and most use them through thick and thin.  Too often, it’s thin.  I know some anglers who stick strictly to pig and jig combinations and put a plastic worm on the other rod.  Both are good offerings, but they don’t always work.  Others are crankbait fanatics or they reach for a spinnerbait two thirds of the time.

Their tackleboxes bulge with forgotten lures that might not get wet from season to season, and on any trip odds that they’ll reach for the same two or three lures are mighty high.  Unfortunately, I’m little different most days.  I have my favorites too, and use them so frequently that I’ve more than once gone bassing with my “tackle box” stuck in a front shirt pocket.  It’s a mistake and every once in a while I re-learn the fact.

Take a bassing trip made last summer, for example.  I hit a small northcentral Ohio lake and spent two hours wading along the shoreline with standard gear for a single short strike.  I tried this and that with no success, and was thinking about quitting when I noticed a small black Sonic in one of the trays.  I know Sonics are good baits, but I hardly ever use them, and darned if I know why.

I was desperate, so I clipped it on.  In four casts I had a good strike and fought a nice bass to a standstill.  Another dozen or so casts and I had another strike.  That vibrating little bait was pulling them out of dense weed cover and right up off the bottom, and I finished with four fish caught and released, plus several more strikes that either flipped off or missed the hook.

There are other lures that anglers seldom use, like Hula Poppers.  Ask any bass fisherman if these are good top water lures, and they’ll almost invariably say “You bet.”  Ask them if they have one or more of these old time lures in their tacklebox, and a modest number will say “Sure.”  Asks if they ever use it, and most will shuffle their feet and probably say “No.”  Top water baits have fallen out of favor, over taken by pig and jigs and plastic worms.  But on quiet mornings when fish are ringing the surface, they can work wonders.

There are lots of other good lures around from yesteryear that no one uses, most of them for no reason other than that better publicized baits have taken their place.  So, they rust in the tacklebox.  A prime example is the old time Flatfish, a wildly wobbling lure that’s lovely at slow speeds and has more action at a crawl than any other lure I’ve tried.  They’re dynamite for bass, again in smaller sizes, and very good for walleye, saugeye, and even big crappie.  But they’re not used.

One of the biggest bass that I caught in 2002 was on a Heddon River Runt Spook, and I’m betting you haven’t seen one of these baits for years, let alone bought one.  But they’re still mighty tasty to bass.  I’ve long had a theory that bass see the same lures, whatever’s currently popular, again and again.  Some have been caught two or three times on this or that, and even a fish can wise up and learn to ignore something that passes its nose day after day. 

These old time lures probably had the same problem, and fell out of fashion as catches dropped off.  But they haven’t been used for years now, and a whole new crop of bass will see them as something new and edible.  Maybe you should dig through the tacklebox this spring and try some of the old favorites.  They weren’t favorites for nothing.

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