By Kent Danjanovich
Summertime is here and it is time to head out with the family for some fun in the sun. Of course, a little time always must be set aside for a little fishing for both young and old, so the Sportsman’s News Team has put together a little info on some of the newest products on the market, as well as some of the tried and true “fish catchers” that have been around for years. Make sure you stop into your local Sportsman’s Warehouse and check in with the experts in the fishing department for some more tips and ideas for “must have” fishing tackle that will make your trips a lot more successful this year!
In 1975, a young north woods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his guiding clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components and most importantly were catching fish when no other baits were working! The word spread like wild fire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand!
For over 25 years now, John and the Northland® Pro-Staff have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catches fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for panfish, perch, walleye, bass, trout, northern pike and muskie.
When fish are in a neutral or negative mood, dragging jigs slowly along the bottom is the real ticket! Maintain bottom contact with light line and a sensitive medium/light action rod. Also, use the lightest jig possible and attach directly to light, limp and durable monofilament line. Do not use snaps, swivels or leaders, as they will impair the action.
When vertically fishing spoons, always use a split ring, cross-loc snap, snap swivel or ball-bearing to eliminate line twist. This provides jointed movement that allows your spoon to fall and flutter naturally. If you are vertical jigging spoons, aggressively snap ‘em every 10 to 15 seconds to lure fish and imitate a crippled minnow. Let it sit for five to 10 seconds (on or off the bottom) and repeat. Lifting the spoon up 12 to 18 inches over the fish’s head will often trigger strikes from inactive, lethargic cruisers and sniffers. When casting, always cast beyond your target area and retrieve our spoon at a steady speed. Very and increase your speed as you reel it in, as this will often trigger strikes from the lookers and followers!
Line is the vital link between you and your fish of a lifetime. Always check your line for nicks and frazzles or areas of abrasion that will cause a weakness. After every fishing trip or after playing out a nice fish, cut off approximately three feet of line and re-tie. Monofilament can be damaged by excess exposure to heat and direct sunlight. Keep your equipment in a dry, shaded area, minimize their exposure to direct sun ray and re-spool with fresh line at least once a year.
When French engineer Andre Meulnart invented the Mepps spinner in 1938, it wasn’t long before he realized it was an extremely effective fishing lure. He didn’t realize, however, he had invented a lure that would revolutionize the fishing tackle industry. It would take a World War and an unusual series of events to do that. It would also take the vision of a man who could see the lure’s full potential.
Todd Sheldon discovered the Mepps spinner in 1951. Owner of a successful tackle store in downtown Antigo, Wisconsin, he was having a bad day on Wisconsin’s Wolf River. Determined to try something different, he tied on a small Mepps spinner that had been given to him by Frank Velek, a WWII GI who had returned from Europe two years earlier. Within two hours, he had creeled four trout weighing more than twelve pounds total.
Todd Sheldon was hooked on and began selling Mepps spinners, but soon discovered he couldn’t get enough. Velek knew a French woman who sent spinners to the sport shop in exchange for nylon stockings. However, the lures were selling faster than she was wearing out her stockings, so Todd began buying his lures directly from Meulnart’s factory.
Soon, other fishermen were experiencing catches like the one Todd took from the Wolf. But, they were catching all kinds of fish, not just trout. As the Mepps reputation grew, so did sales. In 1956, Todd sold his store and formed Sheldons’, Inc. to focus his attention on his growing import trade
By 1960, sales of Mepps spinners in the United States had topped half-a-million and sales continued to grow rapidly. Todd set an annual sales goal of 3-million lures. “My Dad set that mark,” Sheldons’ President Mike Sheldon remembers, “because that was more than any lure had ever sold on this continent. Our sales went sailing right past that goal.”
The company that started in a ten-foot-square room in the back of a small sports shop in Antigo, Wisconsin has, under the leadership of Todd and his sons Bill and Mike, become one of the most important players in the fishing tackle industry. Todd passed away in 1995. He was 81 years old.
Mike has picked up the reins at Sheldons’, Inc. which now occupies a corporate headquarters encompassing almost 50,000 square feet. When all lure sizes, colors and hook configurations are taken into account, Mepps currently manufacturers more than four-thousand different Mepps spinners and spoons. In addition, Sheldons’, Inc. now owns Mepps S.A. (Mepps France) and Mister Twister, a premium soft plastics lure company located in Minden, Louisiana.
The classic Mepps spinner is the Mepps Aglia. It not only is the original French spinner, it is the original in-line spinner and it still accounts for the bulk of Sheldons’ sales. The Aglia’s “backbone” is its heavy duty stainless steel shaft. Attached to this shaft is a concave oval blade, spinner body and, of course, a hook. The blade can be silver or gold plated, polished brass, copper, or painted with computer age Epoxy.
When drawn through the water, the blade rotates around the shaft creating both flash and vibration. Either will attract fish, but together they become a deadly combination game fish can’t resist. The Aglia is also flashy, decorated with plastic and/or solid brass beads in a wide variety of bright fish-attracting colors.
Spoon fishermen around the world are limiting out on the Mepps Syclops. Whether you fish for pike, salmon, trout, walleyes or panfish, there’s a Syclops just right for you. No other spoon is as versatile as the Mepps Syclops. It casts easily and can be trolled at almost any speed. It can also be vertically jigged, making it ideal for a deep-water vertical jigging presentation.
Before 1972, plastic fishing lures were stiff worms or grubs with little or no action. Mister Twister changed all that with the creation of the very first soft plastic fishing lure, the Curly Tail Grub. Often imitated but never equaled, Mister Twister continues to lead the fishing lure industry with innovative new lure concepts and unmatched product quality. Rig a Mister Twister Soft Plastic lure and be prepared to catch any fish that swims
Curly Tail Grub
Everyone knows the Mister Twister Curly Tail Grub, rigged with a Mister Twister jighead, is one of the most effective fishing lures ever. Mister Twister invented the Curly Tail Grub – the original Mister Twister – more than 25 years ago. Now, grub fishing has gotten better with the Exude Curly Tail Grub. Rig it to a jighead with just enough weight to get you down to where you want to fish. Then, fish it with a slow. steady twitch. While Exude lures are great for saltwater fishing, this is one Exude product that truly will catch just about anything that swims.
Mister Twister’s Sassy Shad is available in just the right size for just about any fishing situation. You can also add a spinner form for added flash and vibration. Shad is the one bait fish almost all fish seek as a food source. The original Mister Twister Sassy Shad is the closest imitation of this classic bait fish you’ll find anywhere. The Sassy Shad will out produce any other shad-type lures. It’s classic tail design and supple body give the Sassy Shad the natural shad action fish can’t resist.
The Eppinger Tradition began in 1906. Lou Eppinger spent a month in the Ontario wilderness, fishing, camping and thinking. He used a lure of his own design…A spoon weighing two ounces. The metal was hammered out so that it was thinner in the middle and thicker toward the edges. We he cast it into the shallows, it would swing from side to side, nearly turning over, but always righting itself…Kind of like a Dardevle.
By 1912, Lou turned his prototype into a finished lure, the Osprey. It caught fish; lots and lots of them. Especially pike, a favorite sport fish in the midwest. In 1918, Lou’s nephew Ed came to work in his uncle’s shop. They changed the name of the Osprey to Dardevle after the “Teufelhunden” or “Devil Dogs” the name given by the Germans to the 4th Marine Brigade…Which successfully penetrated and captured the Germans in the Battle of Belleau Woods in 1918. The allies called these U.S. Marines “Dare Devils” the name now used for Eppinger’s most successful line of lures.
The company that sold around 500 lures a year is now an international success and millions of Eppinger lures are sold each year. The original Dardevle has since spawned an entire family of lures, including its newest creation, the Rex Weedless Spoon. Now more than 16,000 different sizes, shapes and colors of Eppinger lures are available to match every fishing need. Eppinger takes pride in its history of American-Made quality and for giving fellow anglers what works, time after time. They build performance, value and tradition into every lure. The real “Dardevle” remains the most popular all-around fishing lure in use today. Eppinger…Often Imitated, Never Equaled!
The Dardevle is standard issue in every tackle box across the country. Effective on a wide variety of species, the Dardevle in classic Red/White, Five of Diamonds and Fire Tiger offerings have been rated by “In Fisherman Magazine” as the #1 pike and muskie lure of all time! A wide variety of retrieves will catch the eye of fish at all depths and weedless options make it even deadlier for those hard to reach spots.
It all began with a hungry Finnish guy and a carving knife. It was the 1930s when a simple fisherman made an observation of simple genius: Big fish eat little fish, especially little fish that are wounded. So begins the greatest fishing story ever told. As Lauri Rapala fished the waters of Finland’s Lake Paijanne, he quietly rowed and watched. And what he saw was how hungry predator fish would dart into a school of minnows and attack the one that swam with a slightly off-center wobble. Over and over again.
Lauri realized that if he could craft a lure that mimicked the movements of a wounded minnow, he could catch more fish, earn more money, and not spend time constantly baiting lines. So Lauri set to work. He whittled. Carved. And shaved. Eventually a lure began to take shape. Using a shoemaker’s knife and some sandpaper, he created his first successful lure from cork in 1936. Tinfoil from chocolate bars formed the lure’s outer surface. Melted photographic negatives the protective coating. But most importantly, it perfectly imitated the action of a wounded minnow. Legend has it that Lauri sometimes caught 600 pounds of fish a day with that new lure. And as word of his abundant catches spread, the lure’s reputation grew. The rest, as they say, is history. That first lure was the forefather to the lure that has helped more fishermen experience the thrill of more big fish than any other: the legendary Original Floating™ Rapala.
The wiggle fish can’t resist.
As fishermen around the world began to catch more and bigger fish with Rapala’s lure, it became clear that what triggered them was the lure’s tantalizing wiggle and wobble. Because even though fish throughout the world were different, predators and baitfish always acted true to form. Big fish hammer wounded little fish. That’s why Lauri tested each lure to make sure it swam true to the unique “wounded-minnow action.” It wasn’t the fastest way to make a fishing lure. But it was the only way to make a Rapala. (To this day, Rapala lures are hand-tuned and tank-tested to swim perfectly right out of the box.) It’s an action as distinct to a Rapala as a fingerprint is to a person. An action no other company has been able to duplicate. And so with every unforgettable trip of a lifetime, every successful Saturday afternoon with a kid at the local fishing hole, the Rapala legend grew. And a deep-seated trust began to form between anglers and Rapala. Weekenders became hardcore. Dads became heroes. And more and more fishermen began reaching for Rapala again and again.
All the world is your honey hole. There’s a reason more fishermen around the world put their faith in Rapala. It’s a confidence that stretches through 140 countries and is validated each year by the 20 million Rapala lures sold. Simply put, Rapala products make better fishermen. Nothing rushed to market, but carefully crafted from years of experience. No shortcuts. No gimmicks. No flash in the pan, next greatest things. It is a legacy of unwavering quality that can be seen in every lure, every fillet knife, every tool, and every cast of our premium monofilament line. A legacy that continues with new Rapala offerings of more lures, new actions, new sizes, new colors, new finishes, new tools, new accessories and new ways of catching more fish.
The sweet smell of success lingers long after the scent of fish slime fades. Tens of millions of walleye, trout, bass, wahoo, snook and tarpon later, Rapala continues to stand the test of time. Through the industry’s ups and downs. Through the coldest cold fronts. Because through it all, one simple truth has endured. That which is irresistible to fish will always be irresistible to the fisherman.
Built of balsa, the Minnow Rap® combines the famed Original Floater® profile with the renowned Shad Rap® action. A true testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Rapala® designers, the Minnow Rap has quickly found its place with anglers worldwide. Whether fishing with the classic or bleeding patterns, fish can’t resist.
The X-Rap® is “all about the action” and it triggers strikes. It’s the perfect size and three-dimensional shape of a minnow. Prominent scales and the lateral line on the fuselage capture and flash light like a beacon. It’s a lure that is designed for aggressive fishing. The angler provides the action and defines the cadence, for maximum effectiveness. Slash one near your neighborhood brute. Dance the Flash Foil Teaser Tail in front of his nose and hang on tight.