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  • Adam Jones

In with the Old

In with the Old

By Adam Jones

We, as internet era anglers, get habituated to following the pros on social media and reading the latest magazines to get a leg up on our competition or for a sneak peek into the ultramodern and greatest new lures to hit the market. We browse online tackle stores to see the new releases and follow iCast pictures to see the “just released” baits so we can preorder. There is though, something to be said of the old baits that rarely get any attention anymore. Some of the baits our grandpas had in their boxes when we were children are still baits that can consistently put up big bags and win tournaments. Lately there have been some attempts at remaking some of these because of a partial renaissance occurring over the lures of many years ago.

Probably the most expensive and sought after of the "old time" baits is the dependable wiggle wart originally made by storm lures. Storm was purchased by Rapala in the early 90's and since then the process for producing the bait has been changed. The older version was less consistently made and would often track back to the boat erratically, which was one of its greatest attractions but at the time some anglers seen that as a downside to the lure. The new model after Rapala had taken over was a very well made one piece crankbait (as opposed to a two piece bait being glued together) but lost that little bit of chaotic movement the old wart had.

Ozark mountain anglers especially covet this bait. Certain craw colors can go for 70-90$ in online auctions. There are many ways people searching for them try to determine which is an original and which is the contemporary version. The most obvious demarcation is that the Rapala model has "STORM" stamped on the bill and original (pre-Rapala) had "wiggle wart" stamped underneath, sometimes very faintly.

Another of the old baits that still produces is p70 PopR made by Rebel. A long time secret of many East Tennesee pros (see-Craig Powers, Ott Defoe) the p70 secret has gradually come to light again. The pros in the FLW tournament series in mid 2000's really brought this bait to the forefront, by taking the East Tennessee secret of flipping this topwater around heavy cover and making it work nationally to win big money. In 2011 Rebel reintroduced this bait, supposedly from the same mold, but those who have fished both versions all agree the antique variety has a little different action that is hard to replicate with anything other than the old original.

Lastly in the line of “old baits that you can still get your arm hurt with” is the original Mann's Jelly Worm. Introduced in 1967, it really was the first soft plastic bait like we know of soft plastics. It had a signature fruity scent and came packaged like worms are now. Before the Mann's invention, worms were opaque, very rigid and normally came pre-rigged with multiple hooks which would cause heavy line twist. This worm revolutionized plastics fishing as we know it. Paul Elias in the modern B.A.S.S. era somewhat recently broke the heaviest stringer in Elite Series history with the help of an "old school" jelly worm fished on the business end of a Caroline rig at Lake Falcon. There couldn't be a better testament than topping the heaviest tournament weight of all time as to the staying power of many of your dad and grandpa's old lures.

Now is a great time of year to be on the prowl for these baits. You can’t open a Bass Pro Shops catalog or browse and find many of these baits. Garage sales with old tackle boxes and  rummaging through your uncle’s old rusted lures are great ways to find some of these gems cheap. Sometimes tackle shows like the East Tennessee Fishing Expo, that is coming in January, offer a few that anglers have found and are willing to part with as well. These old but popular baits are sometimes harder to find than the fish themselves, but are well worth the effort.

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