A Diamond isn’t Forever

Strike King Diamondback ad from 1976.

Strike King Diamondback ad from 1976.

What was the first plastic worm you ever fished? I’m sure for many of you your first plastic worm might have been a pre-rigged Crème or DeLong. The first plastic wiggler I used was a 4-inch purple, pre-rigged bait they sold at Lake Wohlford in San Diego – complete with red beads and a silver propeller. It was a sorry situation, I was about 8-years old and had no clue how to fish the bait so I’d cast to the cat tails and reel it back to the boat. Obviously I wasn’t met with much success.

By the time I was 10 I’d already been a subscriber to Western Outdoor News for a couple years, was fairly well read, and was learning about bass fishing. There was this rig that really intrigued me, a plastic worm rig that promised not to get hung up, in fact, it was weedless. It was the Texas rig – problem was the stores around my house that sold tackle and plastic worms didn’t sell anything but the pre-rigged plastics.

Then one day as my mom was driving me somewhere, I saw a sporting goods store named Reuben’s Sporting Goods. I begged my mom to take me in – thankfully she did.

As I entered it seemed like I’d entered a new world. I’d never seen a place that had so much bass tackle – in fact, many of the baits hanging on the wall I’d only seen in Bassmaster or Western Bass Magazines. I saw my first Bagley’s Balsa B, Scorpion spinnerbait and then the proverbial beam of light came from on high – shining at the coffee cans filled with unrigged Strike King Bill Dance Diamondback worms.

I pulled the wadded up week’s worth of lunch money from my pocket (who needed to eat at school when there was tackle to buy) counted it, looked at the price of the worms (7-cents each) and calculated that I could buy 2-dozen worms (black and blue), a pack of 5/0 hooks and a pack of 1/8-ounce worm weights.

Diamondback worms 1I went home and practiced rigging a worm, as it was shown in one of my magazines, until the worm wouldn’t stay on the hook anymore. That weekend we went to Lake Casitas, still fishing out of a rental boat, loaded with the “new” Texas-rigged Diamondbacks. We headed out of the marina, 6-horsepower Mercury twisted to the max, and made our way to Dead Horse Canyon.

Those that know Dead Horse know the canyon is split into three coves. The middle cove has a large oak tree about half way back on the left. The first cast of the morning resulted in a newly rigged plastic worm stuck in the tree and a backlashed reel. As I was working on the backlash the worm dropped into the water. A few minutes later, after fending off an eagle dead set on nesting in my 5000C and getting the reel straightened out, I reeled up the slack. I reeled and reeled and reeled not coming tight with the bait until it was directly below the boat. That’s when the line went tight and the rod was nearly jerked from my hand. I reared back, set the hook and caught my first legitimate plastic worm fish.

The Black Diamondback had unknowingly made me a “worm fisherman.”

Although Strike King discontinued the Diamondback sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, that memory will stay with me forever.

Do you recall your first worm fish?

  • I never succumbed to the pre-rigged, beaded worm, but by the late 60s, most tackle shops around here had several goldfish bowls on the counter, filled with unrigged worms. Not sure who made them, but they looked like Creme Scoundrels. They’d have a bowl of black and a bowl of natural for sure, and some had a bowl of blue and a bowl of purple, too. I distinctly remember the first bass I caught on one being on a black worm I’d rigged on a banana shaped jighead. It wasn’t until 1970 that I discovered “real” plastic worms. I was coming in from a night of kokanee salmon fishing at CT’s East Twin Lake. There, on the wall of the bait shop, I found a new display of 9″ Fliptail Daddies. I bought a package (3 per card) of Violet. I’d read about Texas rigging, pool cue rods, etc. but had none of that stuff. I spent the next week getting ready to fish these things. The closest thing I could find to a worm hook was a 4/0 aberdeen. I used my saltwater surf rod with 14# mono, and a big split shot. Back at East Twin the next weekend, I went to the most obvious point on the lake and threw out toward deep water. Didn’t realize at the time that I was throwing across a saddle to a rise at the end of the point. The first bump was exciting! The first hook set, magical. I was hooked much more solidly than the fish.

    • Great story Rich. That first worm bite is a magical thing. I remember mine – at a park close to my house. Weightless worm. I cast out, let the thing sink and the line jumped. The fish was only about 10 inches long but like you said, I was hooked for life.

  • benchdawg

    Mine was at New Hogan Res. back in 1975. I had bought a package of blue diamondback worms (after all Bill Dance touted blue worms) and my parents drove me to the lake. I had been fishing a “Nasty” brand spinnerbait for quite a while and ended up in a quiet small cove. I remembered I had brought the worms and broke open the package. Per Mr. Dance, I carefully t-rigged the worm and cast it across to the other bank. After I slowly pulled it into the water, I felt a tick and watched the line move out to middle of the cove. I reeled out the slack, set the hook and caught about a 21/2 lber and have been hooked ever since!