Now’s the time of year when we’re all looking at new products and imagining how many bass we’ll catch with them, and that’s absolutely correct. We will catch bass with the newest and best products around. But that doesn’t mean we should throw away our old ones or give up on the concepts they represent.
Bass are coldblooded, prehistoric creatures. They’re savvy in some ways but, at the same time, we shouldn’t give them too much credit. What they do is by instinct. They react. They do not think or reason. Most importantly for us as anglers, they don’t learn about things from one generation to the next.
The bass you caught today is no smarter than the one your grandpa caught 50 years ago.
Some lures — like the long worms that I wrote about in my last column — have been around for generations and generations of black bass. That makes long worms old to us, but not to them. They see something new because they’re seeing it for the first time. They have no sense of danger when they see one. All they see is an easy meal.
Another good example of what I’m talking about is a walking stick. Take the Bagley Knocker B for example. It’s a much improved walking stick over the first ones that were introduced decades ago. You should take advantage of that but don’t lose sight of the concept. It’s old.
A walking stick is basically a cylinder with hooks on the bottom of it that can be made to swish back and forth on top of the water with lifelike movement. That shape and motion triggers the predator instinct in a bass. That’s why they bite it.
And what about spoons? They’re about as old as dirt but they still catch bass. Every angler I know has a box of them in his or her tackle box. Nichols Lures has made serious improvements in them over the years but they’re still a piece of metal that we think looks like a baitfish to a bass.
It’s the same thing with many other lures. Jigs, plastic jerkbaits, plastic creature baits, swimbaits and spinnerbaits are getting better all the time, but the basic concepts remain the same. And so, while we all admire the new stuff and love to fish with it — and the improvements do make our fishing more efficient — we need to keep in mind that some lures and designs have been around forever and that there’s a reason for that. They catch fish.
So here’s where I come down on all of this: New products are worth buying and using. They take old, time-tested ideas and make them better. That’s pretty much like everything else in life. You can’t sit still. You either move forward or you fall backward.
At the same time, though, the old lures and the ideas they represent are still around because they work. Don’t be foolish and throw your old lures out, or not fish with them because you think they’re outdated. If you don’t tell the bass they’re old, they’ll never know.