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Fish-N-Spin Has Proven Itself As Deadly Panfish Bait


BEDFORD, Ind.—"I’m tellin’ you Jordan, it was almost embarrassing," said Greene County angler Tony Abrell last week. "I would cast to the left of the guy I was fishing with and catch one, then to the right and catch another. After a while, I just put my rod down and let him fish. I could smoke a cigarette, talk, then pick up my rod again, make a cast and catch another one before he had a bite."

Fishing with Sid Sullivan of Spencer who was using strictly crickets, the pair boated 69 bluegill in about 3 hours of fishing. "Fifty of those were caught on the spinner," he said. "I pretty much use it all the time these days."

It wasn’t too many years ago that Abrell was a dedicated cricket man himself. I distinctly remember giving him his first Fish-N-Spin bait. He’s addicted now, making me an "enabler" in today’s War on People lingo.

Just two weeks ago, while fishing with a retired fellow, Ed Melanson of Flint, Mich., who was hanging around the boat ramp with a pitiful look in his eyes, I experienced the same phenomenon. The Ed was fishing with night crawlers and I was casting the Fish spinner. I caught about 40 bluegill that day and my worm drowning buddy never even got a bite.

These two incidents are typical of the amazing tales I have heard and experienced over the past 15 years or so that I’ve been using this lure. Other than a plain jig, this lure is the deadliest panfish bait I have ever used and is more productive than the lure that was formerly my favorite, the Beetle Spin. There are times when Fish’s little spinner beats a plain jig too.

"It’s nice to be mentioned in the same sentence with the Beetle Spin," said Bedford’s Mark Fish, who, with his father’s help, developed the tiny fish-getter he calls the Fish-N-Spin.

"It was back in the late 80s, ‘87 or so. Dad and I were using willow leaf blades with regular Beetle Spin type bodies. We were catching some fish, but when we bought a pack of tube bodies and used them, they worked real well right off the bat We used for it for two or three years, then in 1990 I opened up Fish-N-Supply and started making the spinner, mainly as a hobby."

It was and is the tiny willow leaf spinner blade that makes this bait different from all the others. The willow leaf blade is long and slender, unlike the Beetle Spin’s Colorado blade which is round and "fat." Fish uses strictly hammered willow leaf blades, in silver and copper. The hammered effect causes more flash while the blade shape means it produces less vibration and can be fished easier in deeper water. And, Fish pointed out, the willow leaf blade is "shaped like fish."

Since he first hit on the bait’s winning part, the blade, Fish, age 40, has produced versions of his tiny spinner baits with all different kinds of bodies—curly tails, crickets and even crayfish, but Fish says the tube body is the best version. The curly tail bodies, he added, do work well on crappie.

Abrell prefers the curly tail over the tube body for bluegill. I like the tube body with a little plastic pinched off the trailing "skirt" of the tube body. No matter what body you prefer, if you try it, you will catch fish. That’s a pretty outrageous claim, but I have found it to be true, time and again. The bait is especially effective during this time of year. Even better is that it’s so easy. All you do is cast it out and retrieve it.

"You can’t fish it wrong if you fish it slow," advises Fish. "When fishing for bluegill on the nest, you can rip it out of there pretty quickly. They’ll just pound it. Most of the time though, you want it really, really slow. What I do is cast it out and let it sink down to the depth I want to fish, then start a real slow, steady retrieve."

Panfish strikes on this bait are obvious, most of the time. Bluegill simply tear the bodies to pieces, although crappie can play catch and hold games with it. When the time is right, you can literally catch one bluegill after another with the Fish-N-Spin.

To add more kick to the bait, tip the hook with beemoth. In the summer let it sink all the way to the bottom to catch deeper water bluegill.

"The thing I always liked about the bait is that my boys, even when they were little bitty boys, could go out and catch fish with it. It’s the kind of bait you can give to somebody and tell them to cast it and they’ll catch fish on it," Fish said.

It’s true. It is about the easiest artificial lure to fish that there is, and if you put a drop of super glue where the body meets the jig head, you can catch lots of fish on one body before it is ripped to shreds. Without the glue job, bluegill will tear the body off in the first few strikes.

Don’t make a big, heavy hook-setting motion when you get a strike. Just apply a little firm pressure and keep reeling. Bluegill will hook themselves and a heavy hook-set will rip crappie lips.

Ultralight spinning gear is the preferred tackle, mainly because the best weight bait is the 1/32nd oz. version. Use 6-lb. test line unless you are fishing in ultra-clear water where 4-lb. test may be required (Lake Griffy, for example). Fish uses 6-lb. Berkley Fire Line.

tony2.jpg (56124 bytes)I have personally caught wipers, largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, redear, other assorted sunfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, white bass, northern pike, Oscars (in Florida) and even a few small muskies on this lure. It comes in 1/32nd, 1/16th, and oz. sizes, has a barbed jig head to help hold the plastic body in place, and the jig heads are no-lead. They’re made out of tin and are legal to use in the growing list of waters where lead isn’t allowed--in our national parks, for example.

Fish’s business is not a big-time operation. He makes the baits at home where wife Lynn and sons Andy and Corey supervise. As of last week there were only three places to buy them—Fish’s own business at his home north of Bedford (call him at 812-275-6574) or at Jerry Stoll’s Quality Bait & Tackle in Washington, or at the Avoca Mini-Mart.

Mark says he has given up hopes of becoming "big time" and you can tell by his prices. He was selling them for $1 to $1.19 each when I interviewed him last week. He is about to move them into cyberspace and begin selling on the Internet where the price will probably be higher.

Over the past 25 years of writing this column, I haven’t written more than two or three articles like this one about a bait. Two of other lures were the Beetle Spin and the Tweety Bird, two favorites of my long-gone fishing buddy Dick Dickens and his partner Bernie Tieman who is still out there beating the water to a froth. The third was the Big O, the original balsa wood model carved by Fred Young of Oak Ridge, Tenn., which won a lot of money for bass fishermen in the 1970s and 80s.

All of these lures are phenomenal fish-catchers, but if I only had one lure to take with me to fish any lake or stream, at any time of year, for any species, I’d pack a Fish-N-Spin. I can’t say any more than that about it. You can mail order the lure by surfing to Fish's new web

Posted 4/24/99...Indy

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1999 through 2009.  Jordan Communications.  Chiefland, Florida. Bloomington, Indiana.

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