Tackle collection is a big part of bass fishing. I use that word on purpose. While many lures serve roles as fish-catchers, just as many, if not more, wind up in stockpile for the same reason little boys keep rocks in their pockets. Part of a collection.

I was reminded of this when I began my wintertime purge. Here in Florida, December serves as a great time to go through the shop or clean out the shed, the weather finally cooperating with sunny days and bearable temperatures, passing a “spring cleaning” feel to household chores.

I combined this with a need to thin my collection. For eight years now, I’ve pondered a return to competitive fishing and a time when I may need endless supplies of soft-plastics or pallets of DT10s. Now realizing that’s likely never to happen, it’s time I turned unused baits into something more important.

Opening the first of many tubs, I was reminded of the collection principle. Join me, if you will, as we go through a little bit of the bass fishing doctrine from a short time ago and uncover how silly this all can be. For instance, how many of you have:

Plastic Lizards.

Coming out swinging, the plastic lizard was once the most widely purchased lure in the Zoom lineup, the undisputed champion of soft plastic manufacturing for decades. How many of you still own, or throw, plastic lizards? I can’t remember the last time I read news of one being used in a tournament. There, in my first tub of gear, were gallon after gallon of plastic lizards. Pumpkin. Green pumpkin. Green pumpkin magic. Don’t forget to dip the tail, of course. Yes, not long ago, I, like many others, hauled a hundred pounds of plastic lizards on the water, convinced bass would bite nothing else. To this day, I have still never seen a real lizard, or waterdog or salamander swimming in a reservoir.

Flipping, Carolina-rigging, even weightless around the spawn, lizards got the nod. Lizards were the great egg-stealers of bass nests, we were told. Such brought a genetic programming to largemouths to seek out and destroy all lizards in any body of water. Upon investigation, biologists have never confirmed, anywhere, a viable population of amphibians destroying bass nests. Bluegills, yes. Gobies, occasionally.
I read of a group of nuns in Mexico breeding endangered lizards to grind up and use in cough syrup, but, to my knowledge, none of them bass-fish.

Hollow-Body Swimbaits

When the Berkley Hollow Body came out on the market, everybody bought a pack. I remember my first time using the incredibly lifelike lure; I thought I’d found the answer to my prayers. I also remember a gigantic smallmouth that ate such a bait a few years later, the clear water of Michigan’s Burt Lake showcasing the crime. Easily the largest smallmouth bass I’d ever laid eyes on, I watched in horror as the fish broke 17-pound line a few feet from the boat.

That may have been the last time I used a hollow-body swimmer. From the looks of tournament reports, others have lost interest too, the hollow versions being all but replaced by solid plastic lures from Keitech and others.

A few die-hards still go hollow, especially in the West. I remember Skeet Reese winning big on an oversized BassTrix, sending me immediately back online to purchase a stock that I now am trying to sell. A few have stuck together in the packaging, victims of non-use and UV rays.

Flipping Tubes

There was a time when tubes were a flipper’s back-up plan. Before the advent of the Sweet Beaver and it’s copycats, when pressured bass refused a jig, anglers reached for a magnum tube. Looking back, it’s notable that both the Beaver and the bulky tube produce a slight spiral fall, likely the triggering mechanism responsible for their effectiveness. In any case, back then, there were jigs, tubes and lizards (see above).

Flipping tubes created their own line of accessories. There were products to fit in the tube and give them buoyancy. Other’s fizzed like Akal-Seltzer. These, I assume, were for the bass that previously ate lizards and had heartburn (but no cough). Tube hooks and special weights were created, a few ingenious like the HP system popularized by Shaw Grigsby. In the end, though, tubes began to get phased out.

One major problem with flipping a tube was line twist. The other was the tendency to miss about 20 percent of the fish that hit it, thanks to the thick body and difficult rigging. Today, a few pros still rely on tubes, especially for sight-fishing. I gave them up long ago, replacing them with the various creature baits that now lie in pieces all over the floor of my boat.


I can attest, ringworms were the deal. In my early days of fishing the Ohio River, under difficult conditions and heavy fishing pressure, ringworms would catch fish that other lures would not. Even the venerable four-inch Power Worm, possibly the greatest small bass lure of all time, would occasionally take a back seat to the Ringer.

The secret, I guess, was in the vibration or displacement of all those rings. Manufacturers claimed they held air, and I suppose they did, but not for long enough that bubbles became the major selling point. No, the ringworm just had something else going on.

Ringworms gained ground first out west, where they were added to the doodling and finesse line-ups of clear-water anglers. Like many lures, they later moved east.

There was a period when small finesse plastic worms were making a wave through competitive fishing. This corresponded right around the time of Woo Daves taking center stage by almost winning a few Bassmaster Classics, himself being a die-hard small worm guy. Woo had the Woo Worm. But it was no ringworm.

I guess finesse rigging options phased out this type of fishing. Today, Damiki Rigs, dropshots and Nekos get the nod when times get tough. “Finesse flipping” seems to have died out. I bet in a few locales, though, the ringworm stayed in a few tackle compartments.


For almost 20 years now, Berkley has offered Gulp!-scented plastics to the bass market. For an equally long time, other manufacturers have been trying to capitalize on their success. The Rapala crew had Trigger-X, apparently loaded with pheromones that were irresistible to bass. Like everyone else, I had no idea what a pheromone was, but I assumed it was like a hormone but somehow tied into hunger.

I boarded the Trigger-X train early, and found many of the lures very effective for smallmouth. Evidently, they were especially pheromone-driven. Later, I found success with largemouth and walleye.

Trigger-X never really caught on. Like many things in the bass fishing world, trends can be hard to create and buyers can be fickle. Marketing plays a huge role, as does retail cooperation. Certainly not lacking in other arenas of fishing dominance, Rapala decided to shelve the project and concentrate on selling jillions of 10-dollar crankbaits.

I may hold on to my last remaining packs of Trigger-X. Perhaps a day will come when bass grow tired of everything else, thanks to relentless fishing pressure, and instinctively rely on pheromones for feeding. I, then, would be left holding the answer to the mystery.

Okay, on to the second tub, working into the meat of the collection. Partially wincing from the money once spent, now liberated with the freedom associated with removing clutter. But I can’t just rid myself from all this stuff. History has a tendency to repeat itself. Does that include the history of bass fishing?

Either way, it beats a pocket full of rocks.

(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)