Plastic baits and change

It’s Christmas Day. I hope Santa Clause was good to everyone, and to those you care about. That’s important, you know. And, I hope everyone takes a minute or two — actually, we should all take a lot more time than that — to reflect of the real meaning of Christmas.

As I’ve been down here in Florida fishing almost every day I’ve been thinking about plastic baits, but maybe not in the way you might think. In my mind they’re an excellent example of our sport because they show the way things progress, and at the same time the way they stay pretty much the same.

I’m old enough to remember the early plastics. They were stiff, not especially lifelike and were only available in a few colors. The thing about them was, though, that they caught bass. We’d rig them in one or two ways back in the day.

The first that I can remember was the Crème Worm. The ones I fished with had a hooking harness through the body and an airplane propeller type of spinner up front. We’d throw them out and crank them back. Sometimes, when we felt especially adventurous, we’d put a split shot sinker in front of them to get them down a little deeper.

Then along came the Texas rig concept and the simple plastic worm. Shortly thereafter the plastics wing of bass fishing exploded. We now have a plastic version of anything and everything. The colors exploded at about the same time.

These days you can buy almost any bait in any color, some of those colors are recognizable. We all have a concept of what watermelon red looks like, and maybe we even know what copper and black ought to look like. But do we really know what Christmas, Xmas, Tequila Sunrise, Electric Chicken, Mari Gras and Cotton Candy look like?

The metal flake business is interesting, too. Some of it works, I think. There are times when a slight shine or flash of light makes a big difference. Then again, there are times when I think metal flake inside a bait is just something to catch anglers, that it has nothing to do with the fish.

One thing that it does do, though, is make the bait a little heavier. You may not believe me when I say that but it’s true. Find two baits exactly the same except for the flakes. Throw them out and watch them fall. The one with the flakes will fall a little faster.

Of course, the real question about this is whether any of it makes a difference. My answer to that is, sometimes.

So anyway, the point I mentioned at the top of this article is that plastics reflect our industry very well. Things change, and they get better, but the basic concepts remain the same. We still use a rod and reel with a hook on the end of our line to catch fish. And, we still throw plastic worms to catch bass.

Things change, or do they?