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The Ageless Minnow “Plug”

Early artificial bass baits resembled frogs, crawfish and even things like baby birds. Along the same time as the artificial baits came along lures that were meant to resemble minnows surfaced. (Pun intended) Most baits being constructed from wood offered only a floating version of the most available food source for fish, the minnow. With several varieties of the real thing, artificial baits varied in size and certainly color. For years each lure maker had a version of the standard minnow. As baits evolved, more metal minnow imitators came a long, eventually a brittle form of plastic entered into the fishing field of baits. Why this fascination with the minnow? Simple, they were eaten (real or fake) by most species of fish.

Soon better plastic and also the return of wood was welcomed by bass anglers. The surface minnow plug has been around it seems forever and has earned its spot in most tackle boxes. Balsa, cedar, basswood and other varieties of wood currently have their place in the industry. Much like the plastic worm minnow baits will probably be around forever. The best way to catch fish on these lures is to match the three movements they regularly exhibit.

1. A natural swimming motion gets them attention but doesn’t necessarily trigger a fish to hit the fluidly swimming creature. They travel in unison with their school of similar species.

2. Flight, when being chased the minnow darts from side to side in an attempt to flee and escape which only serves in the underwater world of the fish to send them into predator mode.

3. Injured minnow motion is a creature fluttering and falling after being struck which again presents and easy meal. Both phases one and two explain why an erratic retrieve signals to the fish “it’s meal time.”

While many baits look alike there are features that can make them more effective. Custom lure designer/painter Tony Evans explains, “I am trying to add the most natural details in my baits to trigger the fish to hit but the best bait in the right hands is always the key to on the water success.” On delivery of any his baits Evans tags each lure with the phrase “just add water.”

A few tricks I use to maximizing the look and action of your minnow imitating lures require just a few minutes and one small tool, a split ring pliers. Adding a split ring to the front wire line tie creates a wide wobbling effect that is a bass attractor. Some anglers opt for tying a loop knot which also creates a chance of line failure due to bad line OR a bad knot. A snap swivel has a wire clip and under the heavy stress of aa big fish also fail, so for me it’s the split ring. The ring is opened at with the help of the pliers and then turned until it looks in place on the nose of the bait. My preference is a size 4 split ring available in accessory aisle of almost any place that sells fishing tackle.

The other benefit of having the split ring pliers is in changing out hooks on any of you baits sporting treble hooks. Because red is a triggering color and recognized in nature as some potential prey being injured years ago, I began changing out treble hooks on my cranking baits to red trebles. I had previously had a great deal of success with the line of bleeding bait red worm hooks from Daiichi www.Daiichi . Experimenting with the red trebles I used a scientific approach of identical baits, no red treble, two red trebles and eventually settled on one red treble. * The bait equipped with the red fished side by side, ten casts at a time against the no red out produced the unaltered bait regularly. Then after a little more experimentation I made another tactical change. * I just changed out the front hook on my crankbaits under the theory that if the fish hits the front treble it’s more likely to stay “buttoned up” and that has proven to be correct. The fish just gets that all important glimpse of red flash, subtle is better. Now I consistently, probably at least 80% of the time, I catch my fish on the front red treble hook. The most common sizes of treble hooks are the #6, #4 and the largest normally the #2. Caution; when exchanging the hooks make sure to the replacement is the same size as the original in order to keep the bait balanced. Prepping your baits ideally is done during the bitter winter weather, windy or wet days so you’ll be prepared when it’s time to hit the water. Minnow plugs, conventional crankbaits and lipless crankbaits are all candidates for split rings, and hook replacement.