Crossover Baits and Thinking Fisherman
By Brian Athern
Borrowing a tune from another band and putting your own twist on it isn't a new concept. Many artists have done well creatively, others prosper critically, yet some should have left well enough alone. The song "Heard it through the grapevine" comes to mind as many Motown groups used a spin to launch careers but somehow those rebels from the south managed to spin their own web for critical acclaim. Credence Clearwater Revival probably wasn't one of those groups the Motor City had in mind when the song was crafted but somehow John Fogerty and the boys did well with it anyway.
What in the Sam hill does that have to do with fishing? Nothing, I just like music that much. Seriously, it's to kick-start our brains on the idea of lures and baits that crossover from one fishing realm to another. Admittedly, the Weighted Keeper hook was never designed for stream anglers. It evolved out of a growing need and epidemic of grass explosion both foreign and domestic in the state of Florida. The design of the jig/hook combination though brilliant in its task down south also aids many a "Yankee" fishermen today.
The question simply put is Why? One easy response may be the versatile design of device. Another may be the constant will to tinker with things that many anglers possess. The boundaries of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" don't apply here. Tubes never started off as a flippin' and pitchin' bait for largemouth fishermen now did they? NOPE! Those rotten scoundrels stole it from us and then with their twisted and warped minds used it in a manner inconsistent with its intended design. Sounds like a fishermen to me.
Let's cut to the chase. Tit for tat is our specialty so let's go. Roaming the stores of the local tackle close-out specialist, I discovered baits that resemble the shad dudes Ed Loch spoke of a short time ago. Interesting enough their labeled incorrectly in the bag as "Walleye Assassin" baits. Those 3 and 4 inch long, slender, paddle tailed wonders would be as useless as a one-pitch reliever in the big leagues. Here today, gone tomorrow would be their introduction and closing statements in one breath.
I wholeheartedly intend on the misuse or shall I say an implementation that is inconsistent with their packaging. Yep! I also discovered some in multi-pak deal that came with a nice insulated drinking mug from one of those big "outfitter" places. I believe that this kit was also mislabeled as "Walleye" instead of its more proper "Stream-Smallmouth Guru" assortment.
Another product that comes to mind is the Reef Runner jerkbait and "walleye" minnow bait. Someone has obviously forgotten to teach our Illinois smallmouth bass population how to read lure packages. These things are made in Ohio primarily for walleye, designed and tested in the waters of Lake Erie, the Walleye Capitol of the World, hello!! Nobody, or shall I say nothing reads nothing anymore. I feel like Yogi Berra.
How about just one more product then I'll stop this torture. The grass hook mentioned in the "If I only had a Jig" article". The wonderful people at Kalin never designed this for us lowlife, low technology, stream diggers. Or did they? Which ever is the case, it sure employs a dandy vertical fall through the water column whether it's at the lake or midstream. Sounds to me like a generous oversight on their parts.
On the coat tails of my dear friend Ed, here are a few crossover baits that will probably put a few more smallmouth at the end of your line. The Hypertail Sculpin, Bitsy Blue from Gitzit, and the slender forms of again, mislabeled walleye shad imitators. Those few are bound to drive the population of bronze warriors you pursue to strike.
Whatever the package says I can say that from personal experience it doesn't hurt to tinker. Some of the craftiest, most intelligent, worthwhile adventures in fishing have come from the minds of anglers who know no boundaries. Isn't that why we're still fishing for smallies with French-type spinners today?