Who are some founding fathers of modern lures and fishing techniques?
Response by Rich Z - Dated 07/01/03
In response to the following question:
RichZ wrote answered:
OK, a quick primer in modern soft lure rigs. Remember, this is all from memory. Some of it may prove less accurate than I would hope, but it's close.
An pork eel fished on an unweighted, weedless hook, was a staple in weedy lakes in the 40s. "Jig & Eel" fishing predated plastic worm fishing too. I actually used to own some Pedigo "Jigging Eels", circa 1948. Two per jar, packed in formaldehyde, jig heads and all. Black pork 'eels' wired/sewn onto the huge hooks of barrel style jig heads.
Earlier attempts at artificial soft worms relied on rubber compounds and saw extremely limited success They became brittle with sun exposure, for one thing. But Nick Creme in Ohio, trying to duplicate the popular nightcrawler harness used for walleye, wanted a more realistic looking soft lure, and hit upon using soft pvc as the medium. His original efforts were all molded onto hook harnesses, and were all made and colored to resemble real night crawlers.
Someone put them in a carpenter's toolbox, and blue chalk from the chalk line got on them, and discolored them. They ended up purple. And lo and behold, they caught fish better than the natural colored ones.
Creme started offering his worms unrigged. I can recall every tackle store in the early sixties seemed to have a 3 or 4 goldfish bowls of unrigged, Creme Scoundrels on the counter. Natural, purple, black and sometimes blue.
The rise in popularity of plastic worms pretty much relegated pork eels to the back shelf, and they became very tough to find by the 70s, except for a stronghold of popularity in Arkansas and Mo. It was the Pork Frog that kept Uncle Josh in business, and that company bought out Day and Pedigo and most of the other pork rind competitors.
On the Texas rig and wacky rig were both the step children of the postwar reservoir boom, and both are thought to have been developed by anglers fishing the flooded forests of Rayburn and Toledo Bend. The "scoundrel" shaped worm remained a wacky rig staple, but the segmented body on the Stembridge Fliptail soon became de rigeur among the Texas riggers, and Creme followed suit with the Shimmy Gal series.
But the key to the Texas rig -- the 'self weedless' design, where the hook point is buried in the plastic worm, may have been 'borrowed' from the Jig fishermen on lake Ouachita, who trimmed the lead off the top of a round head jig, impaled the nose of the plastic lure over the now bare line tie extension, and buried the hook in the plastic, a decade earlier than the first reports of the slip sinker equipped self weedless set-up that we now call the Texas Rig.
The earliest version of the "Carolina Rig" I ever encountered, was called a "Florida Rig" in those days. It was basically a Texas Rig with the sinker toothpicked to the line 18" to 48" ahead of the worm. One of the early Florida BASS tourneys was won with it. I remember experimenting with it myself, right about the time I started tournament fishing, which would have been around '70.
Charlie Brewer had borrowed the Ouachita Jig style self-weedless rigging for his Slider head by this time, and had made quite a name for himself with what he called "Do Nothing" style fishing. His spinning gear and 8 pound line were quite a departure in those days as the Texas rig drove anglers to use poolcue rods and 17 pound mine. But that name was usurped by Jack Chancellor when he came in 3rd in the '81 Classic using his "Do Nothing Rig" -- a straight 4" worm (looked like a cross between a French Fry and a Senko, actually) rigged on two old aberdeen hooks, fished on a long leader behind a heavy egg sinker. You just cast it out, let it sink, and reeled it in, dragging the sinker at a steady speed along the bottom. When a fish bit, you did nothing different. Just kept reeling. That was the real beginning of what eventually became known as the Carolina Rig. By 1988, it had replaced the Texas rig as the standard method of fishing a worm in deep water, at least among the tournament driven crowd.
Dee Thomas is generally acknowledged as the grandfather of Flipping, although it's also generally acknowledged that he was inspired by locals who used a long cane pole with no reel and a short line to present a jig & worm, in a techniques called "tulle dipping". Thomas reportedly wanted nothing more than to take that method into the tournament world, where there was a 7-1/2 foot max on rod length, and came up with what's now known as flipping to do so. But it was Gary Klien who really brought Flipping east from California, more than Thomas.
It was actually a west coast angler -- I'm almost, but not 100% sure that sure it was Don Doty -- who I first recall doing what is now universally called jerkbaiting for bass. He was using a #18 Rapala with solder wrapped on the hook shanks, and using long, hard, rod sweeps to get the bait down 4 feet or so, where he'd let it suspe--- wait a minute. This was supposed to be about soft bait techniques.
Out of chronological order here, but a guy named Rick Wolle(sp?) from Minn, I think, took a crude bent-tail plastic worm he encountered in Europe, (I swear I just saw this worm, under it's original name, advertised somewhere within the last week or two) and flattened the tail out. When he pulled it through the water, he knew he had something. He partnered up with Glinn Carver in Louisiana to form Mr. Twister, and soon the twister tail was the biggest thing in fishing, and was copied by everyone. Seems to me that Wolle sold out to Carver, and Carver eventually sold the whole works to Sheldons.
It was some time in the mid 70s that "living rubber" came on the scene, thanks to a gent named Frank Hauk (sp?). That made jigs attractive again, and those pork guys in Ark and Mo (back a few paragraphs), who couldn't readily get dark colored pork eels any more, tried the more commonly available pork frog (till this point, used primarily on spoons or weedless hooks) on these new-fangled living rubber jigs. In '80, Bo Dowden used that combo to win the Classic, and the rush was on.
It was in the mid-eighties that Herb Reed actually devised the lure that started the soft jerkbait fad. It was moderately successful in the northeast, but only a very small handful of anglers elsewhere had tried it. the following sequence of events kicked it off nationally. Terry Baksay used it to finish 5th in September '89 in the BASS tourney at 1000 Island. That was followed a few months later by mMy article on the bait in the January '90 In-Fisherman, followed in short order by Andy Kline's article on it in bassmaster (I had given Andy his first Slug-Gos at the Redman All American in Buffalo the year before) and Kevin VanDam finishing 2nd with it in Florida.
Salt in plastic lures (out of sequence again) was the brainchild of Gene Larew, who designed the process, but had Hugh Harville (H&H Bait Co) actually inject the Larews' Salt Craws for him. It was a small, regional staple for a long time, in OK and ARK, then someone (Joe somebody. I think my mind is failing me) won the All American with one at Havasau, and salty plastics took off. Larew died, his widow sold the company, and the 3rd or 4th set of owners decided to enforce his patent, and stopped eveyone who wasn't willing to pay the license fee from using salt in plastics. That expired last year, BTW.
Anyway, there's a lot more, but my memory cells are starting to hurt.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Remember when I said I started experiementing with what was then called a "Florida Rig" in the early 70s? Eventually, I decided that having the weight anchored to the line between me and the plastic lure interfered with my ability to feel bites, and with my ability to control how far off bottom my lure was. Rearranged the rig a bit, putting the weight at the end, and the lure on a very short dropper, several feet up the line. I mentioned that rig several times in In-Fisherman and in Fishing Facts articles in the mid '80s. The linked graphic (below) appeared in an article in the latter publication in '87. Look familiar?