Addition by Subtraction

By Pete Robbins

When I first joined a bass club in September of 1995, it seemed that every time I got into a boat for a Potomac River tournament my partner would have five lures on the deck:

• 7-inch red shad Power Worm
• ½ ounce chrome/blue Rat-L-Trap
• Chartreuse/white tandem willow spinnerbait, often a local model called a “Golden Eagle
• Chrome/black Pop-R
• Firetiger Bomber Model 7A

Twelve months later, Dan Morehead won a Bassmaster Top 150 on the Potomac and suddenly the Mann’s Baby 1-Minus got added to just about every river angler’s regular rotation. It’s a crankbait that – as the name suggests – doesn’t dive more than a foot, so it’s perfect for going over the top of submerged vegetation or banging through ultra-shallow laydowns.

Twenty years later, I rarely if ever use the “Core Five” listed above. They’ve been replaced by Senkos and Chatterbaits and creature baits and Ricos and swim jigs. The 1-Minus, however, gets the call every spring, and it often stays tied on until the late fall. It’s just an exceptional bait. Last Friday I went out expecting to get bit on a Chatterbait, but after flailing around helplessly with it for a while, I started connecting with the 1-Minus. Eventually I added a swim jig to the mix, but the bulk of success on a good day came on the little shallow diving crank. I just wish that they still made them like they did back in ’96. They dove a little deeper and wobbled a little differently than the current versions, so I baby the old ones that I’ve retained. They’ve survived through many hook changes, riprap scars and fish. Fortunately, you don’t lose many because you can just about always get them back, but eventually the bill gets worn down or they start to take on water and that’s the end of a good life.