Sometimes when an angler as old as yours truly starts looking back he catches himself wondering why in the world certain things ever happened.
I don’t have to detail the emphasis we see manufacturers of fishing gear devoting to new products these days. Have opportunity to visit the annual ICAST show and you’ll see all kinds of evidence of what I’m saying. The ICAST event, produced by the American Sportfishing Association, annually brings together the top lure makers as well as marketers and media from all over the world.
One entire area at the show is set aside for a display of brand new products. In recent years the show has been opened in the evening prior to the main show to make sure attendees have the time and opportunity to view these new items.
Now I’m just as interested in this new stuff as the next one. I’ve gone to that show whenever possible for many years. But every darn time I do I catch myself asking that same question change I mentioned in the beginning.
It goes something like this: “You guys have collectively done another wondrous job of producing this or improving the performance of that. But when in the world is one or another of you going to bring back a lure that has been gone now for decades? Every one of these new products shown here today have to prove they’ll catch fish. Wouldn’t you be wise, then to bring back one that already has done that?
Get very far into memory of the sports fishing field with an old timer like myself and you’ll encounter products bearing the name Pflueger sooner than later. Now I’m fully aware that you’ll still find some Pflueger products around, but I’m talking about the time around the middle of the past century when “Pflueger” was one of biggest names in the fishing field.
Some of them were dandies for the period of time they were around. Find old bassin’ men with lots of white in their whiskers and some of them are a cinch to tell you how proud they once were of their Pflueger Supreme bait casting reels.
But it isn’t the Pflueger Supreme I’m thinking about. The lure I have in mind was one of the smallest the Pflueger Company marketed. Its name was the Pippin Wobbler. It was made in different sizes. The fly rod size, the smallest size Pflueger produced, was a fish catching son of a gun.
The fish I’m talking about here were crappies and bass. I could score with it almost any place where crappies are concerned. Conditions had to be right to nail bass with a Pippin. When they were it could be dynamite. For that matter it still is, in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.
I don’t recall for certain when I managed to get my first Pippin Wobbler. I think it was probably just after I got back from World War II in 1946. Besides the ancient bait casting bassing gear I worked with at that time, I was also fooling around with the fly rod.
I should probably say with what passed for fly rods. With my limited financial resources when I just got back from the South Pacific, my first couple of so called “fly rods” were collapsible metal jobs of one kind or another.
As I’ve mentioned, Pflueger called its little Pippin Wobbler a fly rod lure. It was pure misery to attempt to use with a fly rod. At least I found it so. For starters, the Pippin was made of metal. Manage to get the darn thing up on the back cast and when it came zipping by your ear on the forward cast it sounded like a P-47 on a bombing run.
Part of the noise, of course, came from the teensy little spinner that fluttered around on the lure’s single hook. I’ve always figured it was that tiny little blade back there fluttering with the slightest rod movement that made the Pippin so effective for both crappie and bass.
I wound up catching most of my crappie on this super little lure when I could find spots where I didn’t have to really cast with my fly rod. There were certain docks as well as downed trees and log rafts that often held crappies in the Pacific Northwest where I did my fishing. All I had to do was use my fly rod to dunk the Pippin down into these spots and move it along slowly.
The Pippin was made in a variety of colors. I’ve used most of the different shades at one time or another. The one that almost always got best results for me was a plain nickel finish. That finish evidently most closely matched the tiny minnows that both bass and crappies gobble with abandon.
It was those tiny minnows the bass were feeding on that finally let me figure how to hammer the largemouth bass with a Pippin when conditions were right. Where I learned was on some backwaters of the Columbia River.
Some of the major lumber mills in the southwest part of Washington State used these backwaters, often called sloughs, for log storage.
The tactics I worked out to take bass from those Southwest Washington log storage areas work just as well elsewhere when conditions are similar. I’ll share the details in that regard in my next Let’s Look Back column.