Sunday, April 14, 2013


    Every fisherman knows someone who is blindly affectionate of one particular lure, some more logical than others.  

I have met a man who fishes buzzbaits chronically, even in the winter, and has luck with it.  The secret here is not revolutionary or life-altering, but fundamental.  Like religion, confidence lures are powerful only through the faith put into them, which translates to more time in the water, and, naturally, more fish out of it.  This confidence gives men of faith a mental edge, and more success.

    As a young and impressionable victim of the fishing industry, in the beginning of my years fishing solo, the majority of my fishing took place on my grandparents’ dock on a 36-acre lake filled with sunken timber and the traditional southern mix of largemouth bass, sunfish, and crappie.
    At that time, I was particularly fond of the cool, fishy-looking lures with lots of hooks, especially the ones with the big noses.  I never landed any of Old Creek Lake’s monster bass, because my gear could never budge them from their home rooted on the lake-bottom; but they always had a soft spot for those lures, and their strikes were halting and fierce.

    I had them patterned pretty well, too.  They “related” to particular features of the shoreline, and were homebodies that never really moved much, except for when the water level rose or fell they would move deeper or shallower, respectively.

    My luck fishing that lake was the reason for my early devotion to trebled lures.  Plus, I’m pretty sure I was the only eight-year-old habitually laying down tens for $7 crankbaits in the local tackle shop following trips to the grandparents’—which must have looked pretty cool.

    Later, Chris McCotter, a local guide, introduced me to a cool little lure called a swimbait.  It too looked like a fish, but lacked the tactical appeal lent by many sinister hooks.  However, what the lure lacked in pointiness it made up for in fish.

    I began catching fish of all species with the lure, and it became one of my go-to's.  Even in the woody lakes, though I still couldn’t handle the unyielding bottom-dwelling monsters, I began catching fish and saving money.

    Now, somewhat informed, and a devoted crazy to the sport of fishing, Berkley’s Rippleshad is a staple in my tackle box.  In introducing my brother to fishing, I forced him to purchase a few packs under my self-proclaimed truth that they were good “all-around” plastics.

    He fished the lure on occasion, but never with much luck.  He was a non-believer, and my job was to convert him.

    On a recent fishing trip together, at a familiar farm pond, I tied on a Rippleshad initially, casually throwing around pet names like “pearl gold” and “fish crack” in order to start a bit of a friendly competition.  I was fighting for my beloved.

    This is one bet that you make confidently, but go into with a severe sense of struggle and desire not to fail.  Fishing bets are among the most painful to lose, not because they make you go bankrupt or give up a finger, but because you will never ever hear the end of it.

Phillip with his first pickerel.
Photo by Matt Reilly
    My first cast was short-struck, and a second with a slower retrieve produced the first fish—a small 10-inch bass.

    Several more fish came, many pickerel, a few crappie, but mostly bass.  My brother was falling behind.
Eventually I won.  My friendly opponent switched permanently to my side and took to examining my retrieve.  I was happy to help.

    With this, he began catching fish, including his first pickerel.  Soon he was snagging the monsters rooted in their dwellings, and likewise depleting my supply.

    As dusk dawned, we were making our last casts.  My tackle box’s Rippleshad population was suffering a mortality event at the hands of my brother when I hooked one of the monsters—but this time, I could move it!

First 8-pounder of 2013!
Photo by Phillip Morone
    A long tense fight followed, as a powerful fish rolled and jumped at the surface.  Finally, with shaking hands, I landed a thumb in the mouth of the year’s first eight-pound largemouth.

    Needless to say, my fish- crazed brother was a man of strong faith by then.  Later that night, I received a call asking for my opinion on colors—he ordered six bags from Berkely.

    A confidence lure becomes a strength only in practice.  One fish caught will make the lure a more appealing tool on later trips, and every additional fish serves as a refinement to your technique—a constructive critic.  Everyone’s will be different, so this spring, fish your confidence lure, and send pictures of your success!   

Originally published in the Rural Virginian

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