The Magic is a Mystery
The Magic Plug is a close replica of the Reverse Atom, which dates from the late 1940s or early ’50s. It was designed to imitate the color and swimming pattern of squid fleeing marauding stripers. About 20 years ago, when squid and big bass converged each spring on the reefs off Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Andy Gagarin fished a poor imitation: a hollow, orange plug he’d bought at a tag sale. The lure knocked the snot out of the fish for two days before a bluefish swam away with it.
That started Andy, who owned a couple of the originals, on a quest to mold his own Reverse Atom replicas. The trial-and-error process took a couple of seasons and involved making molds; getting the proper resin, wall thickness and color; waterproofing the halves and so forth (that last bit could be a story unto itself).
“The hollowness was the key,” says Andy, a self-described do-it-yourselfer. “They were a bitch to make.”
After several seasons, serendipity struck.
Andy became friends with a Providence, Rhode Island, tool-and-die maker and avid fisherman named John Anterni. An expert in mold making, Anterni had also started a lure company called Anco Lures, which, Andy says, produced slightly smaller copies of the original Reverse Atom, along with other lures.
Anterni died five years ago at age 90. A few years before he passed, Andy calculated how many Magic Plugs he and his friends would need to fish the rest of their days and bought out most of the stock — about 150 finished plugs and more than 400 halves, with the weights included.
“I have the makings of maybe 400 plugs,” Andy says. “I have the last remaining stock. I bought enough to last me the rest of my life. I needed that many to be happy.”
Why the plug outfishes others in spring when the squid are in is not entirely clear, but it has something to do with color and action. “It’s still a mystery why that plug drives those fish nuts,” he says. “The key thing about the plug is the fact that it’s hollow and the way it reflects the light.”
Now all he and the rest of us who fish those reefs need is for the squid to return in greater number, and the big bass along with them.