Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Voices from the Past: Heddon's Baby Crab Wiggler (1920)

Over the next several months, I’m going to feature the fishing tackle writing of one of my all-time favorite writers, Dixie Carroll (Carroll Blaine Cook). These famed pieces of tackle were featured in his great book Fishing Tackle and Kits. They are fascinating write-ups of the tackle from a contemporary perspective. Below is Dixie’s write up on the Jamison Fly Rod Wiggler, one of the earliest true fly rod lures.

BABY CRAB WIGGLER.- Made by James Heddon's Sons, Dowagiac, Mich. When Heddons thought of imitating the little old crab, that succulent food of the enterprising bass and other game fish, they sure hit the bull-eye right plumb in the center. For a something different bait in the artificial line with a wiggle, dive and crawl of the crab tied up in its make-up the crab wiggler has been making the game fish strike in that swirling curve that almost takes the hair off the head as the game rascals drive into it. I have had very fine luck with the crab wiggler finished in the natural crab color, especially for bass and big wall-eye pike and the smaller baby crab wiggler is a wonderfully good lure for stream bait-casting for small-mouth bass. It is a floater and sure has a great wiggling crawl in the water. I had the best results by working the crab wiggler through a series of short jerks of the rod, that is by giving the tip of the rod a slight jerk, then making a couple turns on the reel handle followed by another slight jerking movement and so on until finally reeled in. About the second jerk, which gives the crab wiggler a sort of backward, darting crawl like the real crab, some old " he-bass" generally gave it a crack and the fun was on. Like all of the famous line of Heddon's Dowagiac baits, the crab wiggler is made right both in material and workmanship. The enamel finish of the bait is excellent and it stands up under mighty rough usage without cracking or chipping. The new scale finish, underlaid with red and with a golden tint to the side scales is a rattling attractive lure any time, while the white finish I have found particularly good for night and moonlight-fishing as well as on a cloudy or dark day. The natural finish crab color makes a 100% winner for fall casting when the crabs have become a bit scarce, although this finish I have found good all through the season. The crab wiggler is a worthwhile artificial in any kit.

Classic Green Crackleback baby crab wiggler.

Baby crab wiggler in downward leaping bass box with papers.

1917 ad for baby crab wiggler.

— Dr. Todd

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