THE BIG FIN
Have you ever wanted to design a fishing lure? As a child, I often carved small plugs, fished with homemade Creepy Crawlers, and even fashioned artificials out of bubble-gum shapes and allowed them to harden around a hook.
Still, I ached to one day have a lure sold as part of a professional lineup. Fifty some years later, I finally got the chance when Panther Martin President Cecil Hoge told me, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
My first idea was a new take on spinnerbaits, but Hoge wasn’t overly impressed. My second pitch, however, was a hit. I suggested elongating the thin body of an old Panther Martin soft-plastic minnow called the Vivif to look more like a sand eel than a bunker. Next, I added a large dorsal fin, hoping the lure would still retain some appeal around full-bodied baitfish. The fin was positioned far enough back to cover the barb of the hook, making the lure weedless. Highlighting the fin to act as a strike target was the final touch. It proved to be a really good idea because it helped predator species smack the lure at dead center. With this arrangement, most fish get hooked in the top or corner of the mouth. Since we use a strong, single hook, releasing fish is easy.
We tested the lure from spring through late fall last year, and it worked well for striped bass, false albacore, snook, redfish and seatrout. Released this spring in 1- and 2-ounce sizes, in both paddle-tail and eel-tail versions, the new lures are called Panther Martin Big Fin 3 in 1 Weedless Swimbaits.
Each lure pack comes with one body/jig head outfitted for fishing, plus two replacement tails with built-in hook channels for easy rigging, and costs between $8.99 and $10.99 at panthermartin.com. While there, check out another new lure designed by “Outdoor Tom” Schlichter — the Fluke Train.