Don't overlook the tried-and-true

Have you ever fished with an old-timer?

OK, this is where I better clarify and tell you I mean old baits and not old buddies (even if most of my fishing friends should go to a casting call, should they make another Grumpy Old Men movie. Roland, Jimmy, are you listening?).

Seriously, what I am talking about is "re-discovering" an old lure, one that might have got buried in the tacklebox or that is hanging out in the garage. You know, an age-old bait that was once the hottest thing on the market, an absolute must-have to hook hawgs.

And if you have been around as long as I... er, well, I mean my buddies have, then you have seen many baits grab their share of the immediate spotlight only to have others take center stage.

Many worked extremely well and are still on the market, yet over time a new fishing fad, technique, tactic, trend or whatever turned angling attention elsewhere, and the one-time hot-ticket bait is left in the wake for a while. Fishing folks might have forgotten about it; they simply blasted off to the next latest and greatest.

Well, I'll let you in on a secret: There are many back-burner baits out there that still do a heckuva job putting bass in the boat.

Sure, some anglers say bass get conditioned to certain lures, but I don't know about that. I do know bass do not have personal one-on-one conversations with anglers; they don't read Web sites or magazines, nor do they watch fishing shows. That said, bass always do this — they eat. And they are aggressive, thank goodness. And they will bite a "latest thing" as well as a tried-and-true.

This notion recently surfaced on a trip where I fished with such an old-timer — the Heddon Sonar, the original blade bait first manufactured back in the 1950s. Now, I caught a lot of bass on this lure in the 1960s and '70s. I used it as a "search bait" when I did a lot of deep, open water structure fishing. And now, as then, it remains a super bait for locating deep schools quickly. And it works all over the country.

I'm sure it will always remain an excellent lure. Though many will tell you it's outstanding for when the water cools, it can produce great bass action at other times of the year, too.

It is compact, casts like a bullet and can be fished at a variety of depths. They can be cast-and-retrieved, vertically jigged, slow trolled and jigged along the bottom.

Its flash and vibration makes it hard to pass up, even if it is an "old-timer."

A quick tip on using it is to never overpower it. True, you may work it a little faster in the warmer months, but remember to create the lure action more with the wrist than the arm and you will get bit more often.

Again, it's still available today in 14 colors and 1/2- and 1/4-ounce sizes. And, yeah, it's plain-Jane looking and won't win a lot of beauty contests, but boy can it catch bass.

But then, I can also say the latter about a lot of my old fishing buddies!

So snoop around in the bottom of your tacklebox or storage building. There's no telling what "old baits" are waiting to be pressed back into service. And I bet, like the Sonar, many are still on the market today. Go buy yourself some new "old friends." Tie 'em on and give 'em a fling.


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