Old Dogs…New Fishing Tricks

Look in my tackle boxes, and you’ll find a lot of lures, hooks and rigs that have been catching fish for decades…or longer.   Those unimpressive purple plastic worms rigged on a Tru-Turn bass hook with a bullet sinker still fools bass.  The WhoopAss Bucktail jigs continue to catch stripers, hybrids, snapper, grouper, cobia and a variety of other species.  And my scratched up MirroLures will catch just about anything that swims.   These rigs have been doing the job for as long as I can remember.  And for the most part, they still are a vital part of my go-to portfolio of confidence lures and rigs.

Every season, tackle manufacturers debut new lures that are sure to be the next wave in fish-catching.   Some of them are so realistic, it’s almost impossible to distinguish them from the real thing.  In truth, many of them are essentially the same lure with a different coat of paint, a slightly different swimming action, or a different size.   And, yes, they will also catch fish. 

Every so often a rig comes along that has a distinct impact on the sport.   Remember when Alabama Rigs first came out.  They were so effective, many tournaments banned them from use.  Some state regulations now only let you have three hooks on a five-hook rig.  It is crazy how these micro versions of the time-tested umbrella rig attract gamefish.  And a lot of companies jumped on the bandwagon to produce similar (but improved) versions of that rig.  The Captain Mack’s Mini-Mack and Project X X-Rig are two good examples of taking a good idea and making it even better. 

Hard plastic and soft plastic swim baits have been around forever; and are probably the most continuously updated lure style.  My grandfather had one of the original Animated Minnows, and lots of lures from Creek Chub and Heddon.   They all caught fish.  Fast-forward fifty years and innovations in manufacturing have created more lifelike action, with amazing graphics.  Two that come to mind are the Sebile Magic Swimmer and Savage Gear’s 4 Play 2.0 look like real baitfish swimming in the water, and they catch fish.  In the soft plastic realm, the paddle-tail lures have really come into the limelight.  And new ways to rig them, like using a Flutter Hook, are putting lots of fish in the cooler in both fresh and saltwater.

Springtime striper caught with the Project-X Flutter Fluke rig

Spoons and jigs have been used since caveman days.  Although they were primitive, they still put meat on the table.  Today’s shinier versions work on the same principles, but now we have terms like Slow-Jigging, Deep-Dropping, and Butterflying.   These tactics all revolve around dropping a heavy piece of metal over the side and use a variety of retrieve tactics to entice a bite.  Our ancestors did the same thing with their homemade rigs…they just called it “fishing”.  

They say you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.  After thinking about it, I’d say the old tricks worked pretty good back then and still do today.  But regardless of whether you’re fishing with this year’s latest gadget, or a rig that your grandfather used, the key is to get out on the water and start fishing.   I really don’t think a hungry fish cares whether it’s the latest rage or a time-tested favorite.   So while you’re re-stocking your tackle box for spring fishing, consider blowing the dust off some of those old standby’s from a few years ago too.  I’d wager if they caught fish a few years ago, they’ll still catch fish today.

Tight lines and calm seas,

Capt. Cefus and Buck, the Wonder Dog.

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