- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

You have to give it to Field & Stream Magazine. The people who run it aren’t lacking in chutzpah.

On the cover of the March 2007 issue it prominently proclaims, “50 Best Lures — The Only Baits You Need for Bass, Walleyes, Crappies & Trout.” But when you go to Page 62 you see that the best lures perhaps are tops only in fishing editor John Merwin’s fertile imagination.

What a wonderful, magazine-selling gimmick because Merwin’s selections will have us crying foul one minute and make us laugh the next. Here and there we’ll even agree with him.

Oddly, the very first lure Merwin picked is a topwater bass model from the Storm Lure Company, the Rattlin’ Chug Bug.

Come now, John. The Chug Bug?

Yes, it’s an OK bass lure, but it can’t touch the effectiveness of a tail-dipping Rico, a Berkley’s Frenzy Popper, or Rebel’s Pop-R. However, Merwin also chose the perennially productive Zara Spook.

See? Already I disagree by simply offering my most effective topwater lures for bass.

As far as spinnerbaits go, Merwin picked an all-around productive white Terminator with willow leaf blades. I won’t argue with this choice, although I’m a Strike King spinnerbait fan and there’ll be plenty of bass hounds who will disagree because of their loyalty to other lure manufacturers. The same goes for lip-less rattle baits, such as Merwin’s favorite, the Rat-L-Trap. I use a Frenzy Ratl’r, others use a Sugar Shad or Diamond Shad. The fact is that they all can do the job.

Field & Stream’s chutzpah — or is it editorial freedom? — came into play when Merwin picked his best soft plastics for bass. He chose the fat Senko, Zoom’s Trick Worm and the Zoom Fluke. Good picks, but nary a word about the scented PowerBait from Berkley.

Get serious, John. How can you ignore Berkley’s Power Worms, Power Grubs, Power Lizards, Power Bungees? They’re immensely popular and effective.

All the same, while Merwin never mentions the PowerBait line, in another part of the magazine the same man writes a lengthy piece about Keith Jones, the chief fishing scientist and lure designer for Berkley. Yet Merwin didn’t seem to care to use the company’s products. Berkley, by the way, is one of the divisions owned by Pure Fishing of Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Under the best trout lures, real fly fishing didn’t even come into play, but I won’t disagree with Merwin’s choices that attract spinning tackle users, such as the Roostertail, Panther Martin and Mepps spinners, or marabou jigs and small spoons from Luhr Jensen.

Washington area crappie anglers might do a double take with Merwin’s top choice, an ice fishing jig known as the Jiggin Rap by Rapala. But we won’t argue with Lindy’s Fuzz-E-Grub, or a Road Runner Marabou from Blakemore. The same goes for the 1/8-ounce Norman Crappie Crankbait or various types of plastic grubs.

Walleyes don’t play a large role in these parts, so I’ll defer to Merwin’s pick of Mister Twister’s Jig & Curly Tail grub, Mr. Walleye Rattlin’ Rogue from Smithwick, or the famous Erie Dearie and Northland Tackle’s Stinger Jig.

I do remember a Minnesota outing some years ago when I fished with the famous pro angler and then In-Fisherman magazine publisher, Al Lindner, as well as walleye fishing champion Keith Kavajecz and several other big-name walleye anglers. We never used lures, instead preferring live leeches and we caught bunches of the toothsome critters that some people claim is the best tasting fish there is. Malarkey. It can’t hold a candle to red snapper, redfish, flounder, and a dozen other saltwater species.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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