Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41 No 3 | Page 8

by Colby Sorrells Photo by author. Tackle Time The Simple Lil John S o plain. So simple. A jighead with what looks like an afterthought, or a piece of a well used soft plastic, the L & S MirrOlure Lil John does not stand out. It looks like something a kid carved out of one of his father’s discarded soft plastic lures or re-shaped using an old time pencil sharpener. The idea is not totally new. Many years ago when soft plastic, or as they were called then, rubber lures, were first made, a similar lure was available along the Gulf Coast. Even though the soft plastic lure idea had its beginnings in the freshwater arena, it didn’t take long for the lures to find their way into the hands and tackle boxes of coastal anglers. One of the big Texas coastal lure makers even ran an advertisement just for these lures. Doug English Lure Company, of Corpus Christi, advertised their “BINGO Worms” in the September/ October 1969 issue of Southern Outdoors and Gulf Coast Fisherman. The advertisement includes happy angler Lanny Meyers and his record 13 pound 2 ounce speckled trout caught in the Galveston area. Young Meyers landed his fish in the Galveston surf. His large speckled trout was the first to be officially recognized as a record fish by the Texas Outdoor Writers Association, which was the keeper of Texas fish records at the time. The lure Meyers used was a small lead jighead with a short, soft plastic worm attached. This version of the Bingo Worm had a simple cigar shape without any split or flip type tail. Another full color advertisement for Bingo products in the magazine shows Bingo worms in 8 different colors and five different sizes, with lengths ranging from 1-1/2 inches to 4 inches long with three different weights of lead jigheads. Bingo later introduced several other versions of the Worm including a split tail example. The idea of the small worm type lure was soon found all along the coast with several small companies selling their lures in local markets. In the Port O’Connor area, a lure called the Bell Worm was sold individually. The Bell 8 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N Worm has a lead jighead and 1-1/2 inch long body with a fish shaped tail. This particular lure was no doubt designed to sink to the bottom quickly because the jighead weighs almost 1/2 ounce. Padre Island Company, PICO, of Corpus Christi, sold a similar product. The three inch PICO Bull Worm had a paddle-shaped tail and came in eight colors which included a contrasting colored spot in the middle of the tail. The folks at L & S Bait Company of Largo, Florida and their MirrOlure brand of lures were after a lure that didn’t helicopter during its descent. If not properly rigged, rat tail or shad tail soft plastic lures often have a tendency to spiral as they travel down through the water. The cylindrical design of the Lil John eliminates this problem making it a lure almost anyone can use with success. The Lil John has really taken over in some locations like Lake Calcasieu in southwest Louisiana. The folks at Hackberry Rod and Gun use the lure throughout the year, but particularly during the late summer/early fall, fishing for speckled trout at the numerous mid- lake shell reefs found in Calcasieu. At first, it’s hard to believe the lure is different enough from other soft plastic lures to warrant including it in your tackle arsenal. But one trip with Hackberry Rod and Gun Club guide, Captain Zach Mitchell, proved the lure works and sometimes it is the only lure that will work. Mitchell quickly boated several speckled trout before anyone else in the group had time to tie the little jig on their line. After initially dismissing the simple lure, it didn’t take the skeptical group long to change out their non- working soft plastic lures for the fish catching Lil John. The Lil John is 3-3/4 inches long and is made in over 25 different colors. Variations of white are popular in the Calcasieu area. In Texas, pick a color with red or chartreuse in it. Due to the almost cylindrical shape of the body, there is really no wrong way to put the body-on the jighead. Both push-on or twist-on screw jigheads work with the Lil John. The Lil John works especially well with some of the new 1/32 ounce jigheads now available. Combining the cylindrical body and the super light- weight jighead makes the rig a go-to lure when speckled trout fishing gets tough, like the last couple of hot weeks of August and into September. Now, a larger size 4-1/4 inch long Lil John XL is also being made by MirrOlure. The company states the larger version offers added weight for longer casts and includes a slot, or pocket, so anglers can rig the lure with a keel-weighted hook. or rigged weedless with the hook riding in the pocket. Both Lil John versions include a shrimp scent to help attract fish. Working the Lil John is as simple as its design. Just cast the lure at the target, let it sink and make a steady retrieve. The body shape prevents the helicopter motion often experienced when using many other soft plastics, especially if they are not positioned just right on the lead jighead. The Lil John likely makes a good representation of small shrimp or possibly some of the aquatic worms found in coastal waters. Simple idea, simple to operate and simply effective, the Lil John works when other more complex lures might not. The straight decent of the lure sets it apart from others that tend to rotate as they work their way through the water column. Try the Lil John and don’t be surprised if it finds a place in your tackle box. Its simplicity fools not only fish but also fishermen. G C F W W W. G U L F F I S H I N G. C O M