Apr 2010 13

Wiggle Warts – Old vs. New By Pete Mathews, In the late 1990s tackle manufacturing giant Rapala purchased the maker of one of the best cold water crankbaits ever made, the Storm Wiggle Wart. In purchasing Storm they made several key changes to the manufacturing process of this crankbait and some say it dramatically effected the way it caught fish. I’ve caught fish on the newer, post-Rapala version of the Wiggle Wart but haven’t thrown many of the older ones for one simple reason…they don’t make em’ anymore! See below for some of the visible and invisible differences between old and new… Printing on the bill – The older versions (top) have the words “wiggle wart” printed down the middle of the bill’s underside. Because most of these older ones have been around for 15-20+ years, there’s a good Pre-Rapala Wiggle Wart (top) and Post-Rapala Wiggle Wart (bottom) chance the black ink is a little faded or chewed up. Newer versions (bottom) have the “Storm” logo printed on the underside of the bill. 2-piece construction – From what I’ve read on internet forums and informational websites much like mine, the older version was made with a 2-piece mold split right down the middle of the bait. For a short period of time after Rapala’s purchase of Storm, they left the old molding technique behind but have since returned to it. On older versions the joint between the 2 halves is rougher to the touch and slightly more pronounced. Rattles -Knowing how much these old Warts are worth and knowing how hard they are to find, there’s no way I’m cutting one in half to see what’s inside. I’ll take the internet’s word for it! But…from what I’ve read, the pre-Rapala Wiggle Wart has rattles made with lead, while the newer versions were constructed with rattles made of steel. The lead gives the older baits a more subtle and dull sound under the water. Some say that toned-down noise produced by lead more closely resembles crawfish coming out of their holes in late winter and early spring, which happens to be the best time to throw this crankbait on Ozark-area lakes. Old Wiggle Warts in various crawfish patterns Plastic density – When paused during a retrieve, a lighter plastic would rise through the water column faster and could be ignored by lethargic, cold water fish. A more dense plastic would have a slower rise and should trigger more strikes from bass that simply don’t want to move fast to eat. The plastic used to make the older versions is more dense than the newer plastic, giving it a distinct advantage in this area. Action – When all of these factors (minus the printing on the bill) are combined, they result in 2 baits that have 2 different actions. Older versions seem to “hunt” through rocks and cover better than their newer siblings. While retrieving an old Wiggle Wart you can sometimes feel it lurch a few inches left or a few inches right. It may not seem like it’s tracking straight, but it if tuned right it will usually stay centered. Most rumors out there point to this erratic action as one of the reasons the manufacturing process was changed…some consumers asked for a crank that went straight out and straight back. If there’s a chance you’ll find yourself chasing bass on an Ozark-area lake in February or March, the time to buy one of these classic Wiggle Warts is when you see it! Even if it’s a terrible or chewed up color, get it into your tackle box, have it repainted, and slap a new set of sharp hooks on it. Fishing a crawdad-colored crankbait in cold water isn’t new, and neither are the baits that work when you’re still in your cold weather gear! On a side note…one of the crankbaits I picked up today is different from the rest and in all my research I can’t find out much about it. The red bait at the top of the five pictured above has obviously been marked and dyed, but it feels like it’s made out of wood, doesn’t rattle, but still has the proper markings on the underside of the bill. If anyone out there knows more about this wooden Wiggle Wart please use the comment section below to share your knowledge…I’d love to know more about what I have! Almost forgot…unless I decide to quit fishin’ they’re not for sale, and I’m pretty sure that won’t happen anytime soon! www.PeteMathews .com

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