Almy: Classic lures remain effective

Most fishermen like to choose the newest, snazziest lures available to cast to their quarry. But sometimes the old proven lures are still worth considering. Here’s a look at two lures that still produce heavy catches on Virginia’s lakes and rivers, even though they were created decades ago.

Flatfish — In 1933, after years of working on lathes and experimenting, Charles Helin unveiled for the fishing public his classic Flatfish lure. The artificial was totally unique, shaped something like a banana, but with perfect balance and buoyancy. It dived and wobbled violently on the retrieve, and that wobbling motion emitted distress vibrations that countless species of gamefish found irresistible.

The lure was lightweight and difficult to cast very far. It also required a slow retrieve or the hooks would foul and the action would be lost. But when fished properly, it was a tremendous lure for virtually any predatory gamefish.

The Flatfish comes in sizes that will fool anything from bluegills, crappies and small-stream trout to bigger models that work well on bass, walleyes and pike. It’s somewhat similar in action to the Luhr Jensen Kwikfish, but no other lures resemble this unique offering. While the original was made of wood, the lures are now made of plastic by the Yakima Bait Company.

Tactics: This is a great offering for river smallmouths, largemouths in lakes and ponds, panfish, pike, trout and salmon. Cast and slowly retrieve the l/16 or 1/8 ounce offerings so you extract the full wide wobbling action these lures are famous for. Also troll slowly on flatlines or with downriggers for walleyes, salmon and trout or backtroll in rivers for steelhead.

Storm ThinFin — In 1964, Bill and Gary Storm hatched a dream with the help of their father, John, and mother Imogene. That dream was to start a successful lure retail business. Exactly half a century later, their Storm lures are still catching tons of gamefish for anglers across the globe.

The company opened officially on July 3, 1964, with the production of their first lure, the Glop. While this lure was unique, it was the next year’s offering, the ThinFin crankbait, that has been one of their most enduring offerings.

The lure had a flat-sided design and a deep belly that produced a strong “flash” and imitated minnows, herring and shad extremely well. It also had a seductive darting, tight-wiggling action and bounced off rocks and wood well. In the first 18 months of production, over one million were sold.

Another brother, Dick, joined the company in 1968, and Storm continued to produce a variety of popular and productive lures including the Hot’N Tot, Wiggle Wart, Big Mac, Thunderstick, Rattlin’ Chug Bug and a newer version of their first hit called the Rattlin’ ThinFin with internal rattles for sound appeal.

Tactics: Use light baitcast or spin tackle and comb-cast banks, flats, humps and points on lakes such as Anna, Kerr and Gaston with a moderate or slow retrieve. Also try pausing and twitching occasionally to give the lure an erratic, wounded-shad action. Trolling with ThinFins is also productive for shallow-water bass and walleyes or deep water salmon, trout and steelhead in the Great Lakes with downriggers.

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.

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