Merwin: Going Soft for Trout

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Every fisherman likes to hear about another angler's secret weapon, so here's one of mine. Not that it's any great secret; just that I haven't heard much about it anywhere. It's the "Crappie Critter" soft-plastic jig body from Southern Pro plastics that I use not for crappies but for trout. This bait is about two inches long, has wiggly legs, and also has two wiggly curled tails. It comes in black plus an array of colors. In many respects it looks like a woolly bugger streamer fly. On a one-eighth- or one-sixteenth-ounce jighead, it's just plain deadly for stream, pond, and river trout.

Which reminds me of the time some years back when I was fishing one of these on an ultralight spinning rod in northern Colorado with Scott Graham, one of my favorite flyfishing guides. "Looks kinda like a woolly bugger, eh Scotty?" I asked while showing him the lure. "Yeah, it does," he said. "Like a woolly bugger, but with more action." I then apologized for having put down my fly rod and taken up the spinning rig. "I hope you don't mind my doing this," I said.

"Don't worry about it," he answered, smiling. "It's all fishing, and it's all good." And thus spoke a very wise young man.