Wiltz: A list of favorite lures
If you're an angler who uses artificial lures, you have your favorites. If a group of us sat down together in hopes of compiling a list, we would not doubt mutually agree on some. There would also be some picks that were favorites of yours or mine alone.
Today, we'll look at mine. Drop me a line, and I'll give yours some recognition in a future column. That will be to the benefit of all readers ... perhaps moreso than my picks.
My No. 1 pick — whether it be freshwater or saltwater, lakes or rivers, whether we're talking walleyes, smallmouths, and white bass in our Missouri River system, striped bass in Arizona's Lake Powell, or trout in Lake Pactola — would be a lead head jig. A minnow, crawler, piece of cut bait, or a soft plastic Berkley PowerBait will enhance it, but it's still a jig. A tube jig is nothing more than a plastic-covered jig. Over the years, I have done very well on walleyes and smallmouths on Francis Case with a tube jig called a Gitzit. They are lethal, but they're still a jig.
I don't know that many catfish are caught on artificials, but I've taken a fair number on tube jigs while chasing smallmouth and walleyes.
My next picks are a family affair. I'm talking Rapala. The original Rapala Floating has brought me more personal enjoyment than any lure I've ever used with the possible exception of a tube jig. I like to tie the balsa wood floater directly to my line, toss it out over a smooth surface, allow the water rings to dissipate, and give it a twitch without allowing the line in front of it to break the water. This technique is a largemouth bass killer. It also fools large northern pike if you use fluorocarbon line for a leader. With a steady retrieve, the floater is excellent for walleyes in shallow water at dusk. I like the Size 13 with three treble hooks. On walleyes, again use a fluorocarbon leader.
I use fluorocarbon line between my lure and regular line when chasing toothy fish. It is more resistant to cutting than traditional mono. Make these connections with barrel knots.
When talking largemouth bass on a calm surface, the Rapala Skitter Prop can be lethal. Give it a tug and let it sit for a few seconds. Keep up this tug and rest routine. I like it better than the time-tested Arbogast Hula Popper or Jitterbug which are definitely classics.
Newer lethal Rapalas include the minnow-like Shadow Raps and XRAPS. When it comes to trolling deeper water, I really like Shad Raps and Rattlin' Raps. The Rattlin' Raps have been especially effective when trolling on Francis Case.
The Clackin' Rap is somewhat of a mystery to me. I can't seem to catch anything in Francis Case on a Clackin' Rap. Troll it for lake trout in a big northern lake like Saskatchewan's Reindeer, and it outfishes anything you put on your line. It's incredible! When trolling Africa's Chobe River for tiger fish back in 2014 with Jim Paulson, I discovered too late that a Clackin' Rap outfished anything in my tackle box. It's a lure with an international flavor!
Back in the mid-50's, when my father took my brother and me to Canada's Quetico, it was a virtual wilderness. We learned that Heddon's Sonic was in a league of its own, and some tackle shops were scalping the $1.35 lure for $5! We went without. That was when 29 cents bought a gallon of gas or a pound of good hamburger. We fished almost exclusively with generic 29-cent Dare Devil spoons and caught more fish than we could handle. Lazy Ikes and Flatfish also worked well, but they had too many hooks.
During the mid-1960S, when I lived in Parkston, we put in at Platte Creek. We limited regularly on walleyes with Heddon Sonics. The Sonic is an all-time favorite with me. Since that time, spinners, crawlers, and bottom-bouncers have taken over.
Comparing today's lures with yesterday's lures is like comparing a computer keyboard to a manual typewriter. In my opinion, it has to do with finish. One almost expects today's silver sides to be slimy! Today's soft plastics feel real. The manufacturers actually warn the consumer not to eat them.
In conclusion, I'm going to tout a blast from the past that most of you never heard of. It was a tiny spinner, smaller in size than my little finger's fingernail, called a Hildebrandt Spinner. It was silver chrome in color, and the single spinner's lone hook held two very tiny spoon-like adornments. It's like I almost trembled when I put it in the water.
I recall a day when I was shore fishing from the north bank of Dimock Lake. Action was slow when I tied on a little Hildebrandt and whipped it around like a fly rod. I immediately began to catch bluegills along with some nice largemouth bass. I couldn't believe my luck. Then something huge grabbed the diminutive spinner. Eventually a large pike surfaced that was hooked on the side of the mouth. I landed the 10-12 pounder with my right hand.
I googled Hildebrandt spinners. Guess what. They still make them! The tiny guy described above is called a "Flicker." Needless to say, I'm going to stock up if I can find them. If you have had a Hildebrandt moment, let me know about it.
The overwhelming positive response to my walleye article two weeks ago was more than I've ever received from any article. It's time to give the people what they want. Protecting our walleyes certainly won't hurt anything.
See you next week.