BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 71

knownst to most of the angling world, the art of nesse shing for bass originated in and around Kansas City in the 1950s. Its father was Chuck Woods, who created the Beetle, Beetle Spin, Pud- dle Jumper, Texas-rigged jigworm, as well as a plethora of other baits and ways to nesse bass into engul ng his various offerings. What’s more, it is estimated that Woods caught more bass than any angler has or ever will catch in the history of angling in Kansas. His biggest was a 10-pounder. All of them were caught on spinning tackle. In addition to Woods, Ray Fincke, Drew Reese, Dwight Keefer, Harold Ensley, Guido Hibdon, Ted Green, Virgil Ward and Bill Ward played a role in making Kansas City the epicenter of bass shing by the late 1960s, and ‘70s, and nesse tackle and tactics are what these men liked to make and employ. At Fincke’s tackle store on Southwest Boulevard in the Rose- dale section of Kansas City, anglers frequently gathered to hear tales of Woods’ angling prowess and watch him ddle with lures and create new ones. Fincke’s shop was a bass club before the advent of bass clubs. It was also where Fincke built scores of rods for area anglers, including his renowned ve-foot, four-inch nesse spinning rod that he called the Stinger. The Stinger was made from two Fenwick blanks, which were a C623 Fenwick berglass blank and a four-foot, six-inch Fenwick S541 graphite blank. The S541 was an ultra-light blank. To lengthen the rod and add more power to the butt section, Fincke slid a 19-inch piece from the butt of the C623 blank over S541 blank and glued it to the butt of the S541. The butt was also tted with a nine-inch cork handle. It sported ve stainless steel guides: a No. 25, No. 16, No. 12, and No. 10. The tip was a No. 8 Carboloy. Ultimately Fincke’s in uence on - nesse shing expanded across the entire nation when he helped Gary Loomis designing a ve-foot, four-inch Classic Spin Jig rod in 1983. Loomis called it a magnum ultra- light rod that was ideal for utilizing small jigs, little spinnerbaits and a variety of soft-plastic lures, and in essence it was Fincke’s Stinger. Sadly, Ray Fincke passed away in March, 2011. Ensley created the Reaper, which Ted Green manufactured at Mar Lynn Lure Com- pany. Many people believe the reaper style soft bait is a California creation. It’s not. And in the back room of Fincke’s shop, Woods used the tail of the Reap- er to create the template for his Puddle Jumper. Then Green, who often visited Fincke’s shop, eventually produced it. At Bass Buster Lure Com- pany, the Wards manufactured Woods’ Beetle, Beetle Spin and nesse-size marabou bass jigs with a ber guard for bass, as well as several other baits that Woods used. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, leg- endary bass pro Guido Hibdon and his brothers caught scores of bass on Ensley’s Reaper and Woods’ Beetle Spin on the Gravois Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. The

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Hibdons also wielded split-shot rigs long before the West Coast folks discovered them. Guido was also a maestro at wielding a 1/16- and 1/8-ounce black marabou jig, and eventually he be- came a wizard with a tube. Then in the 1980s when Hibdon began his illustrious tournament career, he quickly showed anglers all across the nation that Midwest nesse lures and methods would allure bass galore in a variety of waterways, including tidal rivers along the east coast, in the natural lakes from Florida into Canada, in scores of rivers and streams that meander across many areas of the nation, and in many man-made reservoirs that grace our landscapes. In 1991, Hibdon re ected on the effectiveness and the origins of nesse shing for bass: “Many people don’t believe that little baits will catch big sh, but they do. Gosh, we have been proving it for years. And, for years before the guys out West were proving it.” Even before Hibdon’s tournament pursuits unfolded, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, used Chuck Woods’ Beetle Spin and jigworm at Lake Mead and nished in seventh place at the rst Bassmaster Classic (yes, the rst Classic was on Lake Mead, Ne- vada) in 1971. In October of 1967, Keefer used Woods’ jigworm at Long Lake, Wisconsin, to win the World Series of Sport Fishing, which was created by Hy Peskin and Ted Williams (the great base- ball player). Keefer wrote in a January 25, 2011, e-mail: “Through- out the 1960s and 1970s I used Chuck Woods’ techniques and Ray Fincke’s rods to win over 20 bass tournaments, qualify for the 1972 Bassmaster Classic and garner ve angler-of-the-year awards on the Mid-America Bass Fishing Tour.” As high school stu- dents, Keefer and Reese worked at Fincke’s shop and shed regu- larly with Woods. It should be noted that Harold Ensley of Kansas City won the rst World Series of Sport Fishing in 1960 (50+ years ago), and Virgil Ward won one, too. Even though Guido Hibdon exhibited his prowess with - nesse tactics throughout the 1980s and well into the 1990s, power shing gradu- ally became fashionable. At the same time the West Coast anglers developed their style of nesse an- gling, which is different from Woods’ Midwest style. Conse quently power shing and West Coast nesse garnered the atten- tion and imaginations of most of the ardent rec- reational bass anglers across the nation, and interest in Woods’ ways waned; some uninformed observers even began to pooh- pooh it as farm-pond tactics. Another factor was that Woods died in 1975, approximate- ly around when power shing and Western nesse were kin- dling, and that created a signi cant void in the Midwest ways. Without his abilities to continually produce innovative lures and tactics for anglers to employ, Woods’ style of shing began to be perceived as outmoded by new generations of anglers

March/April 2011

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