Let’s Look Back – Part 25

Those who've used it much for crappie know the Pippin Wobbler is a great little lure.  What they might not know is that it can also be darn good for bass if used properly when conditions are right. Photo San Fagerstrom.

Those who’ve used it much for crappie know the Pippin Wobbler is a great little lure. What they might not know is that it can also be darn good for bass if used properly when conditions are right. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Sometimes it’s the smallest lures in a tackle box tray that leave us with the biggest memories.

If you read my previous column you know I told how a little lure that hasn’t been available for years was a fish catching son of gun when it was handled right. The lure I told about was the fly rod version Pflueger Pippin Wobbler.

I wound up catching crappies on that dandy little lure wherever those good eating panfish were to be found. I also mentioned something else in my previous column. It was just how good this little lure could be for largemouth bass when conditions were right.

It’s downright fun for me to look back over a lot of years in remembering the first time this happened. Come along back with me on a warm spring evening to where the Columbia River backs up to form a shallow slough in Southwest Washington.

I knew this slough contained largemouth bass. I’d caught them there before. It was obvious the evening I’m talking about that the bass in the narrow neck of water where I was fishing were feeding big time.

I knew because I could see their swirls as I worked my way down the shore to get in position to cast.

Every now and then I saw a tiny minnow jump clear of the water as it tried to avoid the bass that was hot on its tail. I threw a half dozen different lures at those fish. The results were the same with each. The fish weren’t interested. They were feeding on those minnows.

I needed to use something that more closely resembled the tiny minnows those bass were hammering. But what the heck would it be? I only carried a couple of pocket tackle boxes on the evening trips I made to the big river’s backwaters.

I sat down on the bank and went through the contents of those boxes. A section of one box held small lures I sometimes fished for crappie in these same log pond sloughs.

One of those crappie lures immediately caught my attention. I knew it was close to the size of the minnows those bass were chasing around right out in front of me.

This teensy lure was a Pippin Wobbler.

I had caught bass on this little lure occasionally before while using it for crappie. Could it be the answer? I knew bass would hit it, but I had no way to get it out where they were. I carried only a casting rod and a level wind reel for evening trips to the slough. That’s all I had along this trip.

I've knocked the bass for a loop many times with this set up when they are in the shallows and feeding on minnows.  All you need do is insert a small screw eye into the rear end of a floating Jitterbug lure.  Attach a Pippin Wobbler so it rides about 12 inches behing the Jitterbug.  Removing the hooks from your Jitterbug will result in less tangles on the cast. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’ve knocked the bass for a loop many times with this set up when they are in the shallows and feeding on minnows. All you need do is insert a small screw eye into the rear end of a floating Jitterbug lure. Attach a Pippin Wobbler so it rides about 12 inches behing the Jitterbug. Removing the hooks from your Jitterbug will result in less tangles on the cast. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Then I had an idea. Why not hang that little minnow resembling lure behind one of my larger bass plugs? The way I had it figured, the larger lure would provide the necessary weight for casting. The little Pippin trailing along behind just might attract the minnow-eating largemouth.

I cut a length of monofilament about 12-inches long. I attached the little minnow shaped metal lure to one end. I tied the other end of the foot-long leader to the rear hook of a Jitterbug bass plug.

It took a couple of casts before I managed to get the big lure and the tiny one dangling behind it out where they needed to be without tangling. Once I did, I sat back and let the ripples from the splash disappear.

After almost a minute I turned the handles of my reel just fast enough to make the Jitterbug start wobbling its way back to me. Every couple of feet I quit reeling and just let the lure rest for a couple of heartbeats. I’d done that three times when all at once that old Jitterbug jerked straight back about three feet and disappeared.

Wow! What’s happening? I’d never seen my plug do anything like that before. When I finally got my brain in gear I set the hook. A bristling three pound largemouth came boiling up out of the pond’s quiet waters.

With a twist of its head it whipped the Jitterbug lure one way and another but I could see that the fish didn’t have the surface lure in its big mug.

What that bass had hooked was the tiny minnow shaped lure that had been trailing along behind the Jitterbug. That bass was one of a half dozen I caught in the same fashion that evening.

I've never been able to figure why a dandy little lure that caught as many bass and crappie as this little Wobbler is capable of doing is no longer on the market.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’ve never been able to figure why a dandy little lure that caught as many bass and crappie as this little Wobbler is capable of doing is no longer on the market. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Now and then I could see movement in water as a bass came up to look at the Jitterbug, but they wouldn’t hit it. Each time they’d veer off to grab that little metal minnow that was trailing along behind.

When I walked into the house later that evening, my wife took one look at me and immediately had a question. “What’s with you?” she said, “you’re grinning like you just won the lottery.”

I still have to smile when I think of that evening. I had figured out a way to bamboozle those big mouthed sapsuckers when it wasn’t easy to do so. I’ve made the same procedure pay on other occasions.

As I said in my previous column, Pflueger at one time made the Pippin in several sizes. The smallest was called its fly rod model.

I had a miserable time trying to use the Pippin with my fly rod. When spinning eventually came along that method provided an ideal way to work with it.

I keep a couple of Pippin Wobblers in every bass box I’ve got. They’re always there in event I run into the situation I encountered that evening on those Columbia River backwaters. Every now and then I do. The technique still works.

One final thought. If you’re fortunate to find a couple of Pippin Wobblers to work with, use them along with a Jitterbug if you run into the same situation I’ve detailed.

I’ve removed the hooks from a couple of my Jitterbugs. Doing so makes it much easier to fire your Jitterbug out where it needs to be without getting the trailing Pippin tangled up.

Those darn bigmouth have outsmarted me far too many times. I expect that’s why I get the satisfaction I do whenever I look back remember what that little Pippin Wobbler did for me.

Now if some wise lure maker would just making it available again!

  • Bill Sonnett

    Great article Stan. I recall Erwin Bauer wrote an article in the late 1950’s about using a trick similar to this. He tied a streamer fly a foot or so behind a shallow diving pug such as a Babe-Oreno and stated it was very effective in a situation similar to what you have described. Also Lucas always talked about using a similar sized metal bait the South Bend Fly-Rod sized Trix-Oreno using casting tackle and a few split shot ahead of the tiny bait. He claimed he caught very large bass in deep water with this rig.

  • stan fagerstrom

    Thank You, Bill.

    My guess is you’ve probably used a Pippin yourself. That little lure is a fish catching son of a gun when used properly. As you know, it was being used for years before spinning came along. I really clobbered both bass and crappie once I had opportunity to start using it with a lightweight spinning outfit and 2 to 6-pound test line.

    I dom’t recall our mutual friend Jason Lucas ever mentioning it. That surprises me.

    Stan