Let’s Look Back – Part 13

I always rigged my Al Foss Shimmy Wigglers with a 5-inch Uncle Josh pork rind strip.  The combination left me with some of my most treasured bass fishing memories. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I always rigged my Al Foss Shimmy Wigglers with a 5-inch Uncle Josh pork rind strip. The combination left me with some of my most treasured bass fishing memories. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Writing about the ancient Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler, as I did in my last column brings some other thoughts to mind. I probably should have said more about these thoughts when I first started these Let’s Look Back columns.

If you got out on your local bass water at daylight last weekend it probably didn’t surprise you to find a swarm of other bass boats already there.  Some of them were undoubtedly right smack on that area of the lake you’d planned to fish first.

Now stop and ask yourself how you’d like to have been the only boat out there?  Chances are your heart will pick up its cadence a tad just pondering what that would have meant to you.

Well, my friends, that’s how it was when I first began hammering largemouth bass before the middle of the last century.  Now that Homer Circle is gone, I know I’m certainly one of if not the oldest of the outdoor writers who has devoted most of his columns and features as well as his fishing time to those hard-to-figure beauties we call largemouth bass.

The waters I fished most often in the beginning with the lures I’ve been writing about in these columns had very little pressure.  You could say almost none compared to what it is in most places today.  Often I had the lakes or the river backwaters I fished all to myself.

Being one of the very first to do lots of writing about bass in the Pacific Northwest had some darn good fringe benefits.  One such was that bass bait manufactures in other parts of the country were often eager to send me product samples or give me a price break in the hope their lures might start getting some publicity in regions where they’d had none before.

That, in turn, often meant something that grabbed me as being even more important.  What it meant was I’d have opportunity from time to time show those fickle fish with the big mug something they’d not ever seen.

You're looking at the Number 5 All Foss Shimmy Wiggler.  That brass finished job in the middle was always my most productive.  I did best using it with a natural bucktail skirt. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

You’re looking at the Number 5 All Foss Shimmy Wiggler. That brass finished job in the middle was always my most productive. I did best using it with a natural bucktail skirt. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

This turned out to be especially true if the new lure was presented in a fashion the bass hadn’t eyeballed before.  That’s probably next to impossible to do today because of the way bass fishing has exploded since tournament fishing came on the scene big time and fishing pressure everywhere has gone sky high.

But this sort of things was indeed possible when I first started throwing the Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler on what was then my home lake.  I could hardly believe it when it happened.  I’ve got some old black and white pictures to share with you to prove that it did.  If you read my last column you saw one of them.

If there were other lures around that had the same things going for them as early on as the old Shimmy Wiggler did I’m not aware of it.
This had actually started to change before I got into the bass fishing scene big time after the end of World War II.

The first big step in that direction came when Fred Arbogast developed his Hawaiian Wigglers that were similar in many respects to the Shimmy Wiggler.  Arbogast lures really got started in the late 1930s well after the Shimmy Wiggler was first introduced.

The guy who invented the Shimmy Wiggler really believed in it.  It’s my understanding that at one time Al Foss advertised he was willing to bet $500 that his Shimmy Wiggler would catch more fish than any lure someone else wanted to put up against it.

I expect one of the primary reasons I have the sentiments I do where the Shimmy Wiggler is concerned is because of something else it taught me about bass lures.  As previously mentioned, the most expensive and most cleverly designed bass lure ever made ain’t worth a damn until you learn to use it in a fashion that brings a response on the part of the fish.

I sure didn’t know how to do that with the Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler back when I first got it.  I had the good fortune, however, to run into a guy who did.  His name might ring some bells with other oldtimers in the bass crowd who have been around as long as I have.

His name was Tex Reeder.  When I met him he lived in the Vancouver area of Washington State.  He was a partner with another guy and they were building and marketing Reeder-McGill fiberglass rods.  At that time those fiberglass rods were brand new.  The only casting rod I had at the time was made of metal.

Keep an eye on my next column.  I’ll share some of what I learned from this interesting guy regarding getting results with my then new Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler.

I’m still catching fish today using some of the tactics old Tex introduced me to more than a half century ago.  And back when I first learned how to use Shimmy Wigglers on my home lake they were the next best thing to dynamite!

  • Bill Rice

    i’ve been writiing about fishing since 1964, I’m 72…but I guess you are pusing 100 old buddy!