Over the years I’ve made an observation about trout fishermen, particularly those that chase a lot of stocked fish. By and large, they remain loyal to the first lure their dads or grandpas gave them at a young age. For me that lure is a Panther Martin spinner. Is a Panther really better than other spinners? Probably not, but that’s what dad used. Friends of mine are loyal to the Mepps or the C.P. Swing or the Phoebe. I usually have some combo of those other spinners in my box, but I always tied up a Panther first. One lure I never carried growing up, however, was a stickbait. Dad never used them, so I never used them. I reserved such lures for smallmouth. It’s taken a while for me to come around, but I realize now what a mistake I was making.
During the last five trout seasons or so, my beloved Panther Martin has actually become the “on deck” lure. Most of the time I’ll start a trip with a small stickbait, especially in the fall and winter when it’s beneficial to have the ability to work a bait slowly for sluggish fish in colder water. Growing up I suppose I always thought stickbaits were just too big for trout. That changed during a late-spring smallmouth wade a few years ago when I couldn’t catch bass because holdover trout in a run were beating them all to my lure.
Though I’m still never on the river without a Panther Martin, I am also never without a 2 1/2-inch Rapala X-Rap, a 2-inch Yo-Zuri PINS Minnow, and a 2 1/2-inch Trout Magnet Trout Crank, which took the brookie above a few weeks ago. I like these particular lures because with a little effort you can get them near the bottom of a deep pool, but they don’t dive deep enough while subtly twitching or swinging that they’ll hang in a shallow riffle.
I realize that there is likely a bunch of you who have been tossing similar lures since you were knee high to a grasshopper, but I promise in my Northeast neck of the woods, I still get the occasional odd stare from the gents I know have nothing but Panthers, Roostertails, Mepps, and Little Cleos in their boxes.