The Chapter Artificial Lures for Black Bass out of a 1905 “The Book of Basses” is a great read. The article is about their opinions on artificial lures and the experience the author has had. You also note the illustrations are done by Louis Rhead. the famous fly tier. They cover great antique lures such as the Coaxer, the Dowagiac, the Yellow Kid, Silver Soldier and many more. I wished there had been a color plate of the lures rather than black and white, but its still enjoyable none the less. I also find interesting his choice of lures as the Coaxer was though to have come out in 1905, and I would think that it would pose an interesting challenge for speedy publishing to release a lure, fish it, evaluate and print an article the same year as the lure was introduced.
I’m also perplexed at to what the Dowagiac Bronze Number 3 is? I’m guessing it would be a modified 400 or series 450 do to the photographed shape and is found in the bronze or gold coloring and without a rear spinner or a Heddon underwater Expert (but that never came in Bronze as far as I know). It couldn’t be an Artistic with a single hook it was said to have been released in 1907. Cant be the #20 Baby Dowagiac as it was 1909. What is it? I would love to hear or see your post in the comments on what it could be, the Heddon Killer or modified underwater expert lure.
Bv JAMES A CRUIKSHANK
THE black basses have a special interest for the sport loving angler by reason of the variety of methods by which they may be taken In many waters they will rise readily to the artificial fly. A small spinner or spoon preceding a fly of fairly good size furnishes a lure light enough to use with a heavy fly rod and will generally produce abundant sport when the fish are taking a surface bait. Natural bait such as minnows frogs, helgramites, grasshopper,s crickets, worms, and even small mice will each be found taking at times. And artificial lures some in imitation of minnows frogs helgramites bugs and mice others of startling originality as to form color and motion either in air or water and resembling nothing ever seen by the eye of man in the air on the earth or in the waters under the earth are now offered in bewildering profusion. Despite the first impression of the incredulous angler many of these strange devices will bring rises and strikes a plenty.
Bass may be taken in swift running rivers by methods analogous to those of fly fishing for trout. In ponds and lakes they may be taken by casting and trolling either with natural bait or artificial lures or by still fishing with natural bait. Probably no other game fish taken by the American angler responds to such a variety of lures presented in such a variety of methods. The recent popularity of the new sport of bait casting has served greatly to increase interest in angling for black bass and has largely stimulated the production of artificial lures.
In the new form of bait casting from the reel with the short rod the shape and weight of the artificial lure and its easy flight through the air are of much importance on them depend the distance and accuracy of the cast. With a lure weighing an ounce or more casts averaging much over a hundred feet are made by good casters. More good water may be covered by this method in a short time than by any other and it exactly meets the restless American’s love for activity and change of scene even in his pastimes.
Natural or live bait has distinct disadvantages. It is difficult sometimes impossible to obtain does not live long in confinement is frequently unsuited to the waters to which it may be transported is not pleasant to handle either, alive or dead and can be counted upon for only a very few casts when its usefulness ends. The ingenious American alert for improvements humanely inclined and impatient of the time wasted in obtaining live bait has set himself assiduously to the production of artificial lures which would take game fishes. He has found them.
Will take more fish than live bait the phrase employed by not a few of the manufacturers of these lures may have furnished the unthinking with cause for merriment but the critical expert who carefully tests each new device will find that in many cases the claim is fully justified by results. The writer is among the enthusiastic converts to the modern artificial black bass lure. He has personally tested every new lure which has come into prominence during the last five years on waters ranging from the famous Belgrade Lakes of Maine to ponds within sight of New York’s skyscrapers and has compared results side by side with anglers using the best of native live baits. The modern artificial lures properly rigged and handled need fear competition with no live bait so far discovered.
Yet the curious fact remains that although we have many champions of the exclusive use of the fly for trout salmon and ouananiche we have very few champions of the exclusive use of the artificial lure for black bass. It must be because our anglers are unfamiliar with the recorded facts.
The lures illustrated are a careful selection of the best now on the market It will be observed that in each case the treble hooks furnished by the manufacturers as part of the equipment have been removed and single hooks substituted. The strong tendency of the day in this direction is shown by the option in hooks now being offered by the makers of many of the lures and by the legislative enactments of several States prohibiting the use of the treble hook.
The Worden buck tail minnow No 1 is fashioned from the stiff hair of a deer’s tail. The affinity between black bass and deer tail hair has not satisfactorily been explained nevertheless this lure has a firmly established reputation as one of the most effective inventions ever offered to the angler. It may be used above or below the surface and will gain much by the addition of a spoon. The Bacon spoon shown with it is unquestionably the finest spoon yet produced it folds back against the wire shank while travelling through the air and spins very freely even when drawn slowly through the water Nickel or silver finish on both sides of the spoon is to be recommended. The habit of painting the concave side of spoons a brilliant red has in my opinion nothing in its favor.
The “Dowagiac” lures of which there are several are comparatively new comers which have already won their place as leaders. The Dowagiac rainbow minnow No 2 having green back shading through yellow or orange sides to white on the belly is the most killing minnow yet offered to the gamy black bass. It is equally killing when used for large brook trout, togue, salmon, mascalonge, and pickerel. Having spinners turning in opposite directions the lure does not turn therefore no kinking occurs and it is correctly weighted,
The Dowagiac bronze minnow No 3 round and having only one spinner is frequently as useful as the rainbow minnow. It will be observed that in this lure the tail hook is very close to the body of the minnow. This arrangement is important where the fish are striking short and may be employed with any of the Dowagiac lures. The careful workmanship and finish of these lures will delight any critical angler.
The silver soldier No 4 is made of coin silver shaped and finished in careful imitation of a small minnow and slightly curved so that the motion through the water is darting and not rotary. A single hook is firmly soldered onto the side of the minnow. This lure has been found very killing not only for black bass but also for trout salmon and several varieties of salt water game fishes especially the striped bass and bluefish. When used in salt water however the larger size with a hook of heavier caliber should be employed.
Shakespeare’s Revolution No 5 as the result of large advertising and genuine merit is famous far and wide. Of large size aluminum body with propellers on blades revolving in opposite directions it creates a wake like a steamboat’s on moderately still water. Although wonderfully effective on Western and Southern waters it has never achieved remarkable success in the waters of thickly settled communities but it is well worth a place in the outfit and will generally arouse the pugnacious instincts of big bass.
Mill’s Yellow Kid No 6 on the other hand is distinctively an Eastern lure and has not yet many friends in the West. It is of tin construction painted bright yellow with gold spots and like the preceding lure makes a tremendous wake when drawn over the water. In case the fish are biting high single hooks may be added at the sides of the body but I have not usually found them necessary. Few lures will produce as many rises as this one.
The coaxer No 7 having body of cork enameled white wings of red flannel waterproofed and tail of large red feathers is built upon the ingenious principle of imitating a bug while in flight as well as when on the water. Experienced anglers for black bass are familiar with the fact that the bass frequently starts for a lure before it reaches the water perhaps every casting lure ought to be constructed with reference to this fact. The coaxer has taken many good fish during its short life and may be recommended in confidence. In Eastern waters the smaller size should be used while the larger size is successful in better adapted Western and Southern waters.
The Mohawk darter No 8 is a flat metal minnow nickel plated and is drawn through the water by a wire hinged somewhat back from the extreme front end. By this arrangement an oscillating or darting motion is given while a slight twist in the tail tends to keep the lure slowly turning over. In principle this device has much to commend it and its killing quality is not limited to black bass saltwater fish strike at it readily. It should prove a very effective lure for striped bass.
The best of the several varieties of artificial frogs now offered the angler is the hollow rubber frog. (No 9) and there are times when these imitations will prove excellent lures. I have found that frog with the brown back and cream colored belly the most successful although my habit is to paint my artificial frogs in careful imitation of the animals native to the waters I am fishing. And it is also good sense to paint both sides of these lures in imitation of the belly of the frog only since frogs either natural or artificial when cast by an angler have a persistent way of landing on their backs. When I make a frog therefore he has no back.
The phantom minnow No 10 hollow made of silk and painted in Various colors is very frequently a successful lure for black bass. The blue back silver belly coloration has proven most useful in my hands. The gang hooks should be removed and a single hook substituted. This single hook I attach by cutting a very small slit in the belly of the minnow passing in the head of a good sized needle eyed O Shaughnessy hook and fastening the hook by means of fine piano wire to the crossbar in the mouth of the minnow. A second hook similarly attached may be located in the tail of the minnow if desired but as a rule the hooks which are placed in the centre of the lure are those which take the fish. All game fish have the habit of attacking their prey from the side after which the victim is turned and swallowed head first.
The pilot No 11 and the similar devices known as the turn a frog and pilot spinner are extremely ingenious little articles by which a lure or bait may be made to swim deep or on the surface. They are made of aluminum are small light in weight do not interfere with distance or accuracy in casting and will positively prevent a spinner or spoon from twisting or kinking the line.
There is very great difference between the management of live bait and artificial lures in angling for black bass. With live bait the fish is often permitted to take his time and ample quantity of line. I have even known one expert angler to feed out a hundred feet of line before he struck his fish. When using artificial lures one must strike on the instant that any sensation of attack on the lure is felt indeed when the bass can be seen making for the lure the strike may even be timed in advance.
Again the invariable rule is to keep an artificial lure moving Even in case of a savage rise where the fish misses the lure it should not be stopped but reeled slowly in and cast again.
Probably in no country of the world is the angler provided with so many ingenious and practical devices intended to increase his pleasure. Let not undue conservatism rob him of the additional pleasure so near at hand.