Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 39 No. 1 - Page 8

by Colby Sorrells Tackle Time NEW SHRIMP “It is a strange fact that a lure actually made to look like a shrimp, one that is an exact copy of a shrimp, usually will catch nothing.” Hart Stilwell in “Hunting and Fishing in Texas” circa 1945. H art Stilwell knew what he was talking about back in 1945. Lure makers have imitated shrimp for over 90 years with lures they hope will fool fish. Some shrimp lures worked, but most have come up short. Now there is a new trend taking place that may change anglers’ success. Shrimp are one of the primary food sources for all fish along the Gulf coast. Everything, including fishermen, eat shrimp. It didn’t take long for anglers to come up with a shrimp imitation for coastal fishing. One of the earliest shrimp imitations is the Shakespeare Shrimp made out of wood. This jointed lure is large, measuring over five inches long, and includes glass eyes. But it really didn’t look much like a shrimp. The heavy weight and large size were more determined by the tackle used to cast it, than the actual shrimp it tried to imitate. Heddon soon got into the shrimp business and made their Shrimpy Spook out of amber plastic. This shrimp was much closer to the real thing in shape but once again was heavy and large as required by the day’s tackle. Most examples were destroyed by deterioration of the unstable plastic. Nichols, of Corpus Christi, made a hand carved amber plastic shrimp that got much closer to the mark. Nichols early plastic shrimp are close to the size of natural shrimp most often used as bait. Unfortunately, Nichols shrimp were also prone to plastic shrinkage with most examples crystallizing and falling apart. Nichols founder, Fred E. Nichols, sold his original company and started another, FENCO (Fred E. Nichols Company). Nichols took a real shrimp and had a mold made from the natural bait. The FENCO Shrimp certainly looks like a natural shrimp but it lacks the essential movement found in live shrimp. Stilwell was right again! Texas coastal legend Anton “Pluggin’ Shorty” Stettner worked with BINGO of Corpus Christi to make his more stylized molded plastic shrimp. The BINGO Shrimp includes the side wings Stettner became famous for. The stylized BINGO Shrimp caught lots of fish. One of the first successful modern shrimp lures is made by D.O.A. of Florida. Inventor Mark Nichols knew what he wanted in a shrimp lure and his D.O.A. Shrimp have been catching fish for over three decades. One of the keys to D.O.A. Shrimp is making the body out of soft plastic. Maybe more important is rigging the lure with a single hook that includes a weight at the bottom of the shrimp belly making the lure ride correctly with the back side up. 8 GULF COAST FISHERMAN D.O.A. Shrimp are not an exact replica of a real shrimp, but include just enough of the features like wiggling legs, a broad flapper tail and correct size, to entice weary coastal fish. Stilwell was right again, but a change was underway. Technology and cost savings using soft plastic allowed D.O.A. Shrimp to be the bridge between shrimp imitations of Stilwell’s days and today’s realistic shrimp lures. D.O.A. Shrimp led the way, and then sometime after 2010 the Vudu Shrimp came on the market. Vudu Shrimp, a product of Egret Baits of Louisiana, took shrimp imitation to another level. Vudu Shrimp are also made of soft plastic and include a unique rigging system. Vudu Shrimp include a single hook riding point up like D.O.A. Shrimp, but also include a unique shaped weight making the lure ride correctly in the water whether it is fished under a popping cork or fished like a casting lure. The lur