By Stan Fagerstrom
Product Review Editor
August 3, 2011
Got any red and white wobblers in your tackle box?
It’s my contention you’re missing a bet if you don’t. I had to get a solid kick in the butt to get that into my head. I told about how I got that boot in my two previous columns.
You’ll find those columns in the archives if you’ve not already read them. As I explained in those earlier columns, I didn’t much appreciate the butt kicking I had to get before I learned just how effective the right wobblers can be. I sure did later on.
I’ve already detailed how effective red and white wobblers can be for largemouth bass on some waters when presented in the proper fashion. This time around let’s look more closely at the specific wobblers I’m talking about and what you need to do with them.
My productive wobblers are red and white, candy-striped affairs on the outside with a copper finish on the inside. The copper finish inside of these wobbler has this inscribed on its underside: “Flash Bait 266, MPLS 8 MINN.” Off to the left of this wording is a tiny outline of a jumping fish with the lettering “NEBCO” on it. They are a half ounce in weight.
I’m not aware that this company is still in business. I have seen used wobblers that I assume are those I’m writing about advertised on the Internet. At the time I discovered how well these wobblers worked on the backwaters of the Columbia I purchased a couple dozen. Be assured I take very good care of the few I have left.
I usually fish these wobblers with a casting outfit and 10 to 12-pound test line. On the Columbia River log ponds and sloughs, as well as some other spots I’ve fished, you could cast and reel these wobblers straight out from shore all day without getting so much as a bump.
Casting straight out into open water from shore just didn’t get the job done. It was obvious I had to take a different approach. At the log pond I wound up wearing hip boots or waders so I could get out into the water a few feet. Then I made my casts parallel to the shore.
Just casting parallel to the shore wasn’t enough. I found I had to manipulate my wobblers just right to get attention. The “right” way was to cast parallel to the shoreline, then let the wobbler sink until I felt it tick bottom. Once it touched down, I hopped it up with a little flip of the rod tip and let it sink again. I did this throughout the entire retrieve.
Later, and after saving enough bucks to get my own boat, I used a similar approach on the lakes I fished much of the time. I still do. If I know the fish are in tight to shoreline cover, I take advantage of it. I get my boat in close to shore and cast parallel to the shoreline. Then I use the flip and drop retrieve. What that means is having my lure in blow up country all the way back on the retrieve.
Sometimes bass grab the wobbler as it drops. Other times they smack it as it hops up off the bottom. I’ve never had them pay attention to a steady retrieve. The lure has to fall and hop all the way back to get results.
Since those early days on the Columbia’s backwaters I’ve used my wobblers with a similar retrieve now and then wherever my travels have taken me. The piranha as well as some of the other toothy critters in the Amazon smashed them just like this Columbia River largemouth had.
Letting the lure tick bottom results in its share of hang-ups. My wobblers came with a triple hook attached to a split ring on the hind end. I found I could get away from much of the snag problem by snipping off one barb of the treble, leaving only a double hook. If you choose to do the same, be sure the barb you snip off is the one that points down as the lure swims.
I’ve experimented with a variety of trailers for these wobblers. I’ve tried single hooks dressed with bucktail. I’ve attached different pork or plastic trailers. None of these additions have been worth a toot. The bass simply don’t want my wobblers with a lot of trimming. They choose to gobble them just as they are.
I realize there are other bass fishermen who sometimes do use metal wobblers. I was on hand years ago when young Stanley Mitchell flabbergasted the experts and won the Bass Masters Classic using a Krockodile metal spoon that at the time was marketed by the Luhr Jensen folks in Hood River, OR.
Be that as it may, few bass fishermen I know spend much time fishing metal wobblers the way I've described. Most tackle boxes I have a chance to look over don't even contain one.
I also learned that good as these wobblers were on the Columbia River backwaters was no guarantee they would be equally effective elsewhere. We eventually built a home right on the shore of one of Western Washington’s most productive bass lakes.
We lived at Silver Lake in the southwest portion of the Evergreen State for more than 35 years. My bass boat was in the water about 60-feet from our front door year around. I fished my metal wobblers there from time to time. I didn’t consistently catch anywhere near as many fish with them on that lake as I had in the backwaters of the Columbia.
Why? Damned if I know! And that’s why I made some of those comments in my previous column about thinking I knew all about bass fishing back there more than half a century ago than I do now.
There’s nothing fancy about my red and white wobblers. They don’t have the glitter and flash of some of the more expensive bass lures. Like me, they’ve been around for ages. But now and then they turn out to be just what those big-mouthed boogers want.
At least that’s how bass react to my old wobblers with the copper inside I’m talking about. Again, I don’t know if you’ll be able to come up with exactly the same kind. If you can’t, do try to find those of the same size and weight as well as having a copper underside.
Will they work on your favorite bass waters? I don’t know. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But I do know this: Every now and then in some waters they can be smoking hot when fished in the fashion I’ve detailed and that you’re missing a bet if you don’t give ‘em a try.
Like I said in the beginning of this three part series, I sure don’t understand all I know about either largemouth bass or the female of the species Homo Sapiens. I never have and I doubt I ever will. But I do know this: Get too set in your ways of dealing with either one and you’ll get your butt kicked one way or the other!
Why not try something new now and then? Give those red and white wobblers I’ve told you about a shot in your own fishing. Throw ‘em parallel to the shoreline and use a hop ‘n drop retrieve all the way back.
You just might wind up getting the same kind of surprise I did that evening on a Columbia River log pond a long, long time ago.