We all have them. Lures we should throw away, but just canít. A particular spinnerbait comes to mind.
I love gold spinnerbaits; always have. A lot of it likely has to do with where I fish. The lakes around my central Florida home have always made the case for gold blades, thanks to the population of wild golden shiners that swim these waters and the lunker bass crazy about eating them. Before that, most of my spinnerbaiting was done in muddy reservoirs or tidal rivers, also hot spots for gold. Remember Mannís Classic? I sure do.
Anyway, I came across the previously mentioned lure at a sport show. Shows are always spinnerbait hot spots. Each has a local blade technician Ė an artist, if you will ¨Ė who offers spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and jigs for sale in a thrown-together booth with a lousy sign. Often, itís possible to find a lure no one else has.
I was immediately attracted to the section of gold baits. You now know why. One lure was beyond my wildest dreams for Ė not only were the blades gold, but the swivel, split ring and frame of the lure was genuine 14-karat lookalike material. Eureka.
Iíll bet that was 20 years ago, and that lure still hangs in my shop.
Time and again Iíve tied it on and given it a good college try. Often, it was during times when I was experiencing productive fishing with other similar baits. And while Iím sure that lure has caught a handful of fish for me through the years, I canít remember a single one. This sequence of events has repeated itself nearly every spring for two decades.
I cannot throw that lure away. Someday, somewhere, it will outproduce every other spinnerbait I own. I think.
In times like these, I always turn to science, or reason, to help me understand the great mystery we call bass fishing. Looking at a spinnerbait in such terms seems fairly straightforward. Immediately, I theorize that the lure is simply "too gold", if there is such a thing. Too shiny and gaudy. But then I think back to all the bass Iíve caught on a gold Johnson Silver Minnow spoon, and how it looks underwater. A lighthouse beacon comes to mind.
So maybe thereís something else at play here. What Iíve settled on most recently is that the spinnerbait in question, when made with the unique frame material, is more rigid than traditional baits, giving it a less-appealing vibration. Really, thatís what Iím going with. The bass can ďfeelĒ the difference, and it doesnít compute.
Iíve changed the skirt a dozen times, blades are blades and everything else looks good. What else can it be?
My obsession with this lure always gets me thinking of others. Iíve got a bunch of crankbaits that work better than all the others, and even more that donít work at all. But this is now an accepted way of thinking in the bass world. Weíve all been taught that some crankbaits ďhuntĒ better than others and should be guarded like prized possessions. Many of us go right along with it.
At one time, I owned six identical Rapala DT6 crankbaits in the blueback herring color and only used one in tournaments. At first, I thought it was the particular shade of green on the lure's back, so I purposely faded all the others to look the same. Turns out I was wrong, and still canít explain.
The same can be said the other way around. You know, Iíve never caught much on a Lucky Craft 1.5 Ė the squarebill that started the modern revolution of shallow cranking Ė yet that lureís won millions for other guys. I keep trying.
Iíve got buzzbaits that donít work either. And some that always do.
Do you spend much time swimjigging? I do.
My lure of choice is a homemade version crafted by a friend. The mold is a generalist model. Sure, it slides through weeds okay, but this is no 8-dollar, pro-series jobber.
Many times, dozens really, I have cut this jig off and tied on other lures specifically intended for the purpose of swimjigging. And theyíve all paled in comparison to my 99-cent special. You see, my bait darts around. The others, scientifically molded with specific heads to run straight and true at high speeds, do not. At least thatís what Iím telling myself.
Worms? Yep, even worms.
Iíve still got a handful of ribbon-tails I bought from the bulk bin at Camp Macís Fish Camp in 2002. Iíd never use them unless fishing for money.
And Iíve got bags upon bags of straight models that were supposed to be the answer to my prayers Ė just slightly larger than a Trick Worm; a little fatter, a little heavier. They cast well, have a nice bulbous tail, are the perfect length and color. I bet Iíve used 20. Nineteen were ripped off my hook after a few fish-less hours and tossed on the floor of my boat in disgust, destined for the trash. I bought hundred-count bags and still have 90 or more in each.
Donít get me started on topwater lures.
And what about the ChatterBait? Iíve felt for a while now that this crank-jig-thing would be the next frontier in lure-learning. While the majority of us continue to throw the standard model out of the box, those in the know are tinkering with new versions, attempting to discover the intricacies of what makes some a winner, and others not.
The blades is the obvious first place to start. New this year, I see there are models with smaller, more subtle blades of plexiglass, and a magnum model with a monster thumper designed by Bryan Thrift. From what I hear, Thriftís been using this thing for some time now, and mopping up as a result.
I wonder how that works. Surely, even guys like Bryan Thrift throw common sense to the wind and hold on to lures that never work, just in case. Surely, they have their own version of the gold-plated spinnerbait, right?
At least thatís what Iím going with.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)