JamesB

Surf Plugology - Lure styles - cowboy, conrad, slope head etc

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To all you wonderful lure makers!

Could you help us neophytes understand all the different types of swimming lure styles, please explain what a cowboy, conrad, flat head, slope head and other floating lure styles are. I have seen original dannys (made by Danny Pichne) in a host of different metal lipped styles - traditional dannys, thin more eelike dannys, round headed, slope headed, less slope headed styles, jointed etc - anyone can someone post a picture perhaps of each of the different styles with their approrpiate names - we could all learn a lot from that.

Thanks,

Regards,

Jim Burans

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DANNY SURFACE SWIMMER Sr. Body length: 7-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: Approximately 3-3/4 to 4 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

This lure was known as the Danny Surface Swimmer. Danny made at least three sizes of it. This is the largest and heaviest of the three sizes. To me, it was the most productive of the three sizes, due to its magnetism to pull large-sized striped bass to the surface. The Danny Surface Swimmer was best for me leaving a wake right on the surface. It left quite a disturbance in its wake, and many large striped bass would take it right off the surface, ranging from hardly-visible slurps to voracious end-over-end surface explosions. This lure was a very stable swimmer and would perform equally well under a variety of conditions ranging from calm to high surf and from weak to strong currents.

Of course this plug would work at night. What was of great value with this plug, however, was its ability to raise sulking fish during daylight. Few other lures could raise fish as well during the daytime. If fish were known to be in an area, waiting for the night to feed, you could repeatedly throw the Danny Surface Swimmer Sr. over them and ultimately draw tumultuous strikes from non-feeding fish. Such daytime situations were when the Danny Surface Swimmer (and not much else) was at its very best.

This is truly a topwater lure. Tuned properly, it was hard to drive it under the surface, and it would not stay submerged too long. It stayed right on the surface. At times it was most exciting to see fish follow behind it and give their presence away by subtle swirls on the surface behind it. I felt they stalked it sometimes. If you were attentive and knew what to llok for, it was characteristic the moment immediately before a strike to see the dorsal spikes and tail go erect, rising through the surface like the conning tower of a submarine. If you could see the the spikes come up, it was almost always a sign of commitment. Very rarely would they go back down. In that instant, the explosive strike would come as the fish unfurled all its raw power at the plug.

At the end of a long night at first light, when a flurry of daybreak action started to wane on most other lures, you could switch to this one and keep on catching into the mid-morning hours. It was "the" lure I'd go to after daybreak in order to keep on catching.

After sleeping all day, awaking in the late afternoon with the golden light of the sun going down, this was a great plug to begin the new night, using it to cover expansive flats as bass filtered up to raid bait pods in the shallows every dusk, often in only a couple feet of water. During the mullet run, this blue mullet color was exceptional on the shallow beaches, jetty pockets and bayside flats where huge bass would come right up onto shore to get at mullet pods harbored in inches of water.

The Danny Surface Swimmer Sr. behaved a bit awkward and flighty when thrown on conventional gear. Although passable on conventional, it cast exceptionally, like a football rifled deep into the end zone, with heavy spinning gear. Whatever unbalance and waffling occurred casting on conventional, it all got ironed out and it acted like a rocket launched on heavy spinning gear.

 

danny-surface-sr-mullet.jpg

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DANNY SURFACE SWIMMER Jr. Body length: 6" (excluding lip). Weight: 2-1/4 oz without hooks.

This lure was known as the Danny Surface Swimmer Junior. Danny made at least three sizes of it. This lure is the middle, most commonly-used medium size Surface Swimmer. Most all swimming plugs of this approximate "medium" size were tagged in the vernacular of the beach as the Junior (Jr.) size, no doubt a slang reference to similarity in body length to the Atom Manufacturing Company's Atom Junior swimmer. The colloquial naming convention was that most all swimmers of any origin that were of the medium Atom Junior size were referred to as Junior (Jr.) model sizes.

Of Danny's three Surface Swimmer sizes, his largest size Surface Swimmer Sr. excelled for jumbo bass 15 lbs and up. On the other end of the spectrum, his very smallest size Surface Swimmer was relatively rarely used, except in a back bay, estuary or light tackle beach environment. It appealed best to pre-migratory schoolies predominantly under 5 lbs and was a light tackle plug.

This medium-sized Surface Swimmer Jr. caught everything in between the other two sizes. I'd say this medium size Surface Swimmer is the single most well-known and famous of all Danny plugs. In the years since Danny's passing, I've seen several commercial and fine hobbyist versions of this plug yet I dare say few perfections. This lure is the classic surface swimmer color too - all white. I'd argue an all white topwater (by day) can work equally well as any other topwater color most of the time. There was rarely an incentive for me to tie on other than all white topwaters most days. Proper action with an all white could usually command attention. Danny Pinchney was a strong proponent of adding a reddish pink splash under the chin as a strike enticement. I often embellished it with a single stainless Siwash white feather-dressed tail hook.

There were a multitude of brands and models of swimming plugs that all worked well under cover of darkness. I generally preferred such other subsurface swimmers at night. The Danny Surface Swimmer Jr. is a true topwater lure, used most often by me between false dawn and first dark. Few other swimming plugs could perform daytime duties like it. Most often I would use it for close-in infighting tight in heavy cover - jetties, sand bars, weed beds, shellfish beds, rock beds, piling, piers, sunken barges, wrecks - anything and everything that could hold a bass by day. If I had confidence a bass was there, repeatedly waking the Danny Surface Swimmer as close as possible practically touching the cover would eventually raise a fin for me. Even after several dozen repeated casts over the same piece of cover, I had high confidence that the next cast could be the one when the Danny Surface Swimmer Jr. would raise a bass to the top. Whether the plug just became irritating after a while or what, it worked that way. Persistence on my part as a plugger was paramount to success with this plug for me. Almost every piece of cover could and would have bass sulking on it, and it was just a matter of not giving up casting too soon. To say the Danny Surface Swimmer Jr. holds a special place in my heart is true. It's rewarding after forty-five minutes of plugging the same piece of cover, to see a bronze back crest the surface behind the plug.

Tremendous eye-to-lure orchestration was important to breathe life into this wood puppet. Every infinitesimal nuance of flow and ebb tugging at the plug had to be instantly addressed and played to the hilt - all visually. You needed to lose yourself in the visual contact and become the plug you saw. Like seeing yourself in a dream. Maximizing the time caught rising up the curl of a wave, shooting the tube was a high percentage strike point. Often body-surfing bass would materialize behind or beside the skittering plug, backlit by the sun in the see-through translucent curl. There's nothing like a sheening majesty suddenly poked a third it's body, head and shoulders out of a curler to the side of a plug, eying it up with a one-eyed glance as it surfs the wave's force in beside the plug, bending it's body around halfway out of the curler ahead of it, as the curler brings the plug toward the marvel now waiting suspended ahead, with only its powerful broad tail balancing it in the wave. Otherwise, you had to get the plug to climb on top of the whitewater and riding forward, like a surfer, so it didn't wipe out, toss and tumble, which was a low percentage strike point. If you could keep it surfing, you could scuttle it across the creamy pure white topping as a wave broke, gusting the smell of freshly-churned sea foam at you as the wave collapsed in a heaving uproar on the berm.

In a crashing surf, I'd often wait for a foam carpet to cast into. By foam carpet, I mean a wave that breaks and bubbles for a distance as it comes in, essentially transforming the surface momentarily into a creamy carpet of foam. Keeping in mind, this was cover fishing, I'd wait till the wave and therefore the foam was just about to begin to carpet the outer edge of the cover. I'd have the cast in the air and the plug land just when and where the carpet began to be pulled over the cover, then wake it through the milky foam carpet, which was often the most productive moment to raise a strike under cover of the frothy foam carpet. The carpet did not last long, but dissipated in under a minute - and only one out of every so many waves produced such a foam carpet. So timing was essential.

danny-surface-jr.jpg

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DANNY FORTY SWIMMER. Body length: 7-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 3-1/2 oz with hooks. This lure is a wood Danny swimmer. Danny made at least three sizes of it. This is the largest and heaviest of the three sizes. In the vernacular of the beach, it was dubbed the "Danny Forty". No doubt a slang reference to its similarity to the Atom Manufacturing Company's Atom Forty Swimmer.

To me, it was the most productive of the three sizes of Danny swimmers, and accounted for a lot of large-sized striped bass in its day. By adjusting the line tie and metal lip angle, this Danny plug could be made to swim from right under the surface in calm, flat conditions to approximately 6 feet deep (or more) in rips. Many large striped bass would take it. This lure was very stable and would perform equally well under a variety of conditions ranging from calm to high surf and from weak to strong currents. Worked as well by day as night.

A favorite method of super sharpies was to tie an eelskin completely over it, lashing it down onto the metal lip plate where it went into the wood body, bigging up the two belly hooks for swimming stability and leaving the tail hook off. Most guys wouldn't make the effort to do this, yet the eelskin cloak accounted for some of the very largest bass caught on this Danny plug.

I do not know exactly when Danny started to make these. However, I had seen Danny's Conrads, Slope Heads, Surface Swimmers, Trollers and Darters by Danny that had been around for a long time before I had ever seen Danny make any of these Forty swimmers. I'm saying I recall when these Forties were considered by the beach crowd to be "new" model lures made by Danny - at least "new" to me or anyone else who I knew at the time about twenty or more years ago. So these Forty swimmers may not necessarily be an old or classic Danny lure model (like the Conrads, Slope Heads, Surface Swimmers, Trollers, and Darters) - at least not to me.

Speaking of established Danny lures, the established colors characteristic of Danny as far as I recall it are:

WHITE - All white. Pinkish chin splash. Danny added dark metal flake to his white plugs, but did not add metal flake to any others I recall.

HERRING - Danny was the first one to make a herring pattern as I recall it, although other plug makers duplicated the herring pattern in time. Herring had pale blue back over pink sides and a white belly.

MULLET - Royal blue back over silver sides. White belly. Pinkish chin splash. Danny was a strong proponent of a red or pink chin splash as a strike inducement.

RAINBOW - Royal blue back over silver sides over orange over yellow. Cream white belly.

The above four are the "classic" Danny colors I recall. Yellow with reddish chin plash was a fifth staple color produced by Danny, but preferred more toward the east end of Long Island and Montauk as opposed to other areas. Of course, being a custom crafter, Danny would make special runs of any requested color. From one season to the next too, Danny would get into his own changing trends of seasonal run color patterns - but the four above were Danny's time-tested and classic stock signature colors. It's reasonable to say, however, that any other original Danny plug colors you may come across are less common colors - and fewer plugs were produced by Danny in colors other than the above four.

nomUntitled.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 10:42 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DANNY JUNIOR SWIMMER. Body length: 6" (excluding lip). Weight: 2 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

This lure is a wood Danny swimmer. Danny made at least three sizes of it. This is the middle of the three sizes. In the vernacular of the beach, it was dubbed the "Danny Junior". No doubt a slang reference to its similarity to the Atom Manufacturing Company's Atom Junior.

By adjusting the line tie and metal lip angle, this Danny plug could be made to swim from right under the surface in calm, flat conditions to approximately 6 feet deep (or more) in rips. Many striped bass would take it. This lure was very stable and would perform equally well under a variety of conditions ranging from calm to high surf and from weak to strong currents. Worked as well by day as night.

A favorite method of super sharpies was to tie an eelskin completely over it, lashing it down onto the metal lip plate where it went into the wood body, bigging up the two belly hooks for swimming stability and leaving the tail hook off. There were actually few plugs that could readily handle eelskins. The best plugs for skins needed a consistently straight body - not curved, bulged or elliptical - but a straight plug bodies. The Danny Junior and Danny Forty had such straight bodies, as did the Danny Conrad Jr. and Conrad Sr. However you had to file a shallow notch to retain the eelskin in place on the Conrads. Such a notch was not required on the Danny Junior or Danny Forty since the eelskin could be secured by lashing it right to the metal lip plate.Most guys wouldn't make the effort to do this, yet the eelskin cloak accounted for some of the very largest bass caught on the Danny Junior, Danny Forty, Conrad Sr. and Conrad Jr. plugs.

I do not know exactly when Danny started to make these. However, I had seen Danny's Conrads, Slope Heads, Surface Swimmers, Trollers and Darters by Danny had been around for a long time before I had ever seen Danny make any of these Junior swimmers. I'm saying I recall when these Juniors were considered by the beach crowd to be "new" model lures made by Danny - at least "new" to me or anyone else who I knew at the time about twenty-five or so years ago. So these Junior swimmers may not necessarily be an old or classic Danny lure model (like the Conrads, Slope Heads, Surface Swimmers, Trollers, and Darters) - at least not to me.

The blue swirl color pattern was also not seen by me before this. Danny first used this blue swirl color pattern (as far as I know) on the Forty and Junior swimmers. I had not seen this Danny blue swirl pattern before this. The blue swirl by Danny seems very remindful of the blue swirl color of Atom Manufacturing Company's Forty Swimmers which were made with hollow molded plastic bodies at that time.

danny-junior-swirl.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DANNY TROLLER Jr. Body length: 6" (excluding lip). Weight: 2 oz without hooks.

This lure was known as the Danny Troller. Danny made at least three sizes of it. This lure is the medium size. Most all swimming plugs of this approximate "medium" size were tagged in the vernacular of the beach as the Junior (Jr.) size, no doubt a slang reference to similarity in body length to the Atom Manufacturing Company's Atom Junior swimmer. The colloquial naming convention was that most all swimmers of any origin that were of the medium Atom Junior size were referred to as Junior (Jr.) model sizes.

Of the three Troller sizes, the largest size Troller Sr. excelled for jumbo bass 15 lbs and up. On the other end of the spectrum, his very smallest size Troller was relatively rarely used, except in a back bay, estuary or light tackle beach environment. It appealed best to pre-migratory schoolies predominantly under 5 lbs and was a light tackle plug.

This medium-sized Troller Jr. caught everything in between the other two sizes. It is a very stable lure with a penchant for fast-moving currents and rips. As the name implies, it was a preferred boat trolling plug due to its stability in fast water or on the troll. But the name is deceptive in that it is also a great casting lure. The plug had a quick, tight vibrating movement as opposed to the more swaying, rolling movement typical of other Danny plugs. The tight, quick, fast vibrating action of the Troller could often be enhanced by using it with a single stainless Siwash white feather-dressed tail hook. Despite all this talk of fast water and tight vibrating movement, the rule of thumb to fish plugs ever-so-slowly still wisely applies to the Danny Troller in fast water.

The Rainbow color was my preferred color for the Danny Troller. Not every model Danny plug was made in this Rainbow color (or at least I have not seen every model Danny in Rainbow). But if I had to pick only one Danny plug to use in Rainbow, or only one color Troller to use, it would be Rainbow. The color and the plug seemed to go together, an observation based on many fine fish landed on Rainbow Trollers.

nmonUntitled.jpg

 

A fine pair of rainbows - Troller Jr and Slope Head Sr:

 

danny-rainbow-pair.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 01:43 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DONNY TROLLER JR. Body length: 6" (excluding lip). Weight: 2 to 2-1/4 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

This lure is a wood Donny swimmer. Donny Musso of Super Strike Lures made at least three sizes of it. This is the smallest of the three sizes. In the vernacular of the beach, it was dubbed the "Donny Troller Junior". The two larger sizes were more like two versions of one large size troller. So actually there were two sizes, Junior and Senior, and over time also two versions of the Senior size evolved (as I recall it).

This Troller Jr. was a very stable lure with a penchant for fast-moving currents and rips. As the name implies, it was a preferred boat trolling plug due to its stability in fast water or on the troll. But the name is deceptive in that it is also a great casting lure. The plug had a quick, tight vibrating movement as opposed to the more swaying, rolling movement typical of other metal lip plugs. The tight, quick, fast vibrating action of the Troller could often be enhanced by using it with a single stainless Siwash white feather-dressed tail hook. Despite all this talk of fast water and tight vibrating movement, the rule of thumb to fish plugs ever-so-slowly still wisely applies to the Donny Troller in fast water.

The blue scallop color pattern here was my absolute favorite of Donny's color patterns. It is a tremendously handsome and unique color to Donny as far as I know. I had not seen this pattern on any other plugs except for Donny's plugs. As can be seen in the photo at right, the stencil used to spray the scallop, still allowed the very back to remain baby blue. This is a unique and admirable effect. Truly this can be considered a "signature color" of Donny's, meaning I am unaware of the pattern being produced otherwise, especially not with the "pass through" type top color.

Some persons claimed the blue scallop color represented a snapper bluefish. Of course, it effectively mimics a mackerel. It was also ideal in late summer around rocks and pilings where base were gorging on the end-of-summer bounty of free-swimming blueclaw crabs.

donny-troller-jr-scallop.jpg

 

The artisticly clever pass-through effect on the back of the blue scallop can be glimpsed here:

 

donny-troller-jr-scallop-back.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 01:56 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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donny-trollers.jpg

TOP LUREDONNY TROLLER JR. Body length: 6" (excluding lip). Weight: 2 to 2-1/4 oz more or less.

The top lure is a wood Donny swimmer. Donny Musso of Super Strike Lures made at least three sizes of it. This is the smallest of the three sizes. In the vernacular of the beach, it was dubbed the "Donny Troller Junior" (shown top photo).

The two larger sizes were both referred to as "Donny Troller Seniors". About the two Senior versions, If I am not mistaken, the extra large Senior (shown bottom photo) was the first version made by Donny. I believe Donny retired this extra large Senior when he began production of the second version of the Senior (shown middle of photo), which ultimately replaced the first version.

Getting back to the Troller Junior, it was the ideal size for 5 to 15 lb bass.

BOTTOM LUREDONNY TROLLER SR. (Ver. 1). Body length: 8" (excluding lip). Extra wide girth. Weight: 3 to 3-1/4 oz more or less

The bottom lure is the largest of the three sizes. In the vernacular of the beach, it was dubbed the "Donny Troller Senior".

There was also another second version of the Troller Senior which was (if I am not mistaken) was a later version made by Donny (shown middle photo). I believe Donny may have retired the extra large Troller Senior (version 1) when he began production of the second version of the Senior.

The original Troller Senior (version 1) was a huge plug, a manly plug with an extra wide girth. It accounted for most of the very largest striped bass I ever bagged on Trollers. It is a simple truth that big plugs produce big fish... and even bigger plugs produce even bigger fish. Taking logic to its conclusion, the very biggest plugs produce the very biggest bass. Some incredible fish crushed the Donny Troller Senior (version 1) in its day. This plug is about the biggest and bulkiest metal lip striper plug I know - without jumping up into the giant jointed pike lure class.

The Troller Senior (version 1) was the ideal size for cow bass, and it had the hooks to handle them. Best used on heavy conventional gear.

MIDDLE LUREDONNY TROLLER SR. (Ver. 2). Body length: 7-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 2-1/2 oz more or less.

The middle photo is the medium of the three sizes. In the vernacular of the beach, it was dubbed the "Donny Troller Senior".

The Troller Senior (version 2), it is turned to the same 7-1/2" wood stock shape, same belly hanger positions and same metal lip shape as these three other Donny metal lip swimmers: 1) Pine Senior, 2) Maple Senior, and 3) Surface Swimmer Senior plugs, as they were referred to on the beach. So the Troller Senior (version 2) shared the same base wood stock, hangers and lip shared among four related models.

The Troller Senior (version 2) was the ideal size for 15 lb plus bass.

 

Al three sizes of Trollers were best used on deep beaches, inlets, jetties and channel areas. Actually most anywhere the current moved, except it dug too deeply for shallow beaches. A very stable lure with a penchant for fast-moving currents and rips. As the name implies, the Troller was a preferred boat trolling plug due to its stability in fast water or on the troll. But the name is deceptive in that it is also a great casting lure. The plug had a quick, tight vibrating movement as opposed to the more swaying, rolling movement typical of other metal lip plugs. The tight, quick, fast vibrating action of the Troller could often be enhanced by using it with a single stainless Siwash white feather-dressed tail hook. Despite all this talk of fast water and tight vibrating movement, the rule of thumb to fish plugs ever-so-slowly still wisely applies to the Troller in fast water.

The white color pattern is arguably the most productive wooden surf plug color of all time. I do believe all-white surf plugs (with or without secondary color accent markings) produce more bass than all other colors combined together. Second place behind all-white as an all-time producer are blue/white wooden surf plugs. The blue/white category includes: 1) medium, dark, royal or navy blue, and 2.) light, baby, steel or powder blue (with or without optional secondary color accents).

 

[ 01-06-2005, 11:00 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DANNY CONRAD Sr. Body length: 7-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: Approximately 4 to 4-1/4 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

This lure was known simply as the Conrad. Who, what or why it is so-named, I haven't an idea. Danny made at least three sizes of it. This is the largest and heaviest of the three sizes. It accounted for a lot of large-sized striped bass in its day. The Conrad was, I feel, the deepest swimming of all Danny plugs on a cast and retrieve (as opposed to trolling). A very slow action was required to get them deep and to keep them down. If you retrieved too fast, it would upset the balance of action. Super slow would cause a wide, rolling sweep from side to side that accounted for some very large striped bass.

The color shown here, Herring has a light blue back over pink lateral line and white belly. As far as I know, the Herring was a defining color by Danny. What I mean is I had not seen any Herring color plugs, Danny's was the first I am aware of. That may not be factual, there may have been other Herring pattern plugs prior to Danny making them, but I had never seen any Herring patterns preceding Danny's. Over time, I did see other plugs and plug makers subsequently produce herring patterns similar to Danny's, but Danny's was the first I saw. Others often added silver spray lines above or below the pink line. An interesting note is later in his plugmaking days, Danny to began to produce a Herring variant with a silver spray line also. Kind of a case of Danny imitating his own imitators - or something like that. Anyway, this is the Danny original Herring pattern, possibly the one pattern most unique if not possibly original (?) to him. If Danny did not originate the Herring pattern, he surely was the one to popularize it, and it remains a common pattern today in surf plugs.

mnmonUntitled.jpg

 

Head of Conrad Sr. notched and swabbed in linseed oil to take an eelskin cloak:

 

danny-conrad-eelskin.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 01:40 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DANNY CONRAD Jr. Body length: 5-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 2-1/2 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

Danny seemed to have a nimble habit of being very responsive to seasonal changes in baitfish biomass. In the sea, such changes often follow a boom-or-bust cycle. The color shown here was produced by Danny in the mid-eighties in response to a sudden and unanticipated boom of weakfish progeny throughout the entire mid-Atlantic basin. The weakfish boom was short-lived yet while it lasted, bass doted on the heavy blossom of young-of-year weakfish in the bays during summer and especially as the hordes of juvenile weakies poured out the inlets and migrated southward along the surf zone come autumn.

danny-conrad-jr-weakfish.jpg

 

The Danny Conrad Jr. below also mimics a baitfish - the tinker mackerel. The Conrad Jr is a more realistic (if you can call it that) green mackerel pattern whereas the Slope Head Sr. shown below is more abstract and impressionistic yet productive blue mackerel pattern. Both were relatively rare and early Danny paints - albeit beautiful:

 

danny-mackerel-patterns.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 11:02 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DANNY SLOPE HEAD Sr. Body length: 7-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 4 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

This lure was known in the vernacular of the beach as the "Danny Slope Head". Danny made at least three sizes of it. This is the largest and heaviest of the three sizes. It accounted for a lot of large-sized striped bass in its day.

I first saw one of these in the mid-seventies, given to me by an old-timer who had retired from fishing. The Slope Head he gave me already appeared old even then, thirty years ago. In appearance, this plug looks very close to another Danny plug, the Conrad. The obvious difference of course is the angled head as opposed to the square-cut head of the Conrad. Another less obvious but critical difference lies in the pull point or line-tie eye of the Slope Head being at a lower plane than the eye on the Conrad. Because of these differences, the Slope Head gets almost but not quite as deep as the Conrad, and the Slope Head has an even wider sway to its body-rolling movement than the Conrad.

Both the Slope Head and Conrad swim deeper than most other Danny plugs - and deeper than most any other metal-lip swimming plugs for that matter. A very slow action was required to get them deep and to keep them down. If you retrieved too fast, it would upset the balance of action. Super slow would cause a wide, rolling sweep from side to side that accounted for some very large striped bass.

The Slope Head (and Conrad) were used most by me as jetty, tip of a bar, rip and eddy plugs. I rarely used them in a current or strong flow where I couldn't pop them out of the flow, through the "crease" and into an eddy.

Most often, I would cast cross-tide and thumb line to freespool the Slope Head to drift out with the rip or current. By thumbing lightly, the heavy maple wood plug would lumber its way down under the surface on the drift, swimming deep into the water column due to thumb pressure and line drag as it was freespooled with the current. In this way, the Slope Head would swim "forward backward" while freespooled, getting hit as it swam outward backward on the drift. By swimming "forward backward" I mean that the tail of the heavy waddling, rolling plug actually gave the illusion of being the "front" end of a baitfish (squid, whatever) as it swung around and out on the drift. What we know as the head of the plug actually functioned as the "tail" end on the swimming freespool drift. No reeling was required (only freespooling while thumbing it) and suddenly, line would peel off the spool at a rapid rate as a fish lunged and took the plug on the drift. If that didn't happen, I'd wait until the plug drifted into a bend or close to a prominent eddy circling next to the current line. Engage the reel, and let the plug strum until it popped out through the crease and into the eddy, where bass were often waiting. The painstakingly slow retrieve would then begin. In some strong flows or rips, the Slope Head could be freespooled almost down to the knot on a reel. With a Penn Squidder, this could be 300 yards (900 feet) of line out. It could take a long, long time to freespool and recover that much line. Many times, the circular flow of an eddy, often helped by the wind, would keep the Slope Head pinned right against the crease line all the way back where fast racing water met slack eddy water. Needless to say, the Slope Head accounted for many impressive stripers strung along the crease waiting for food to flow to them. Remember, however, the Slope Head can and will (if done properly) catch as many fish on the freespool out as on the retrieve back in.

The most important part of having a good metal-lip swimmer is to take time to tune it properly in calm clear water when not fishing. Often the calm pocket of a bayside jetty at high slack tide is ideal for tuning chores. Tuning the line-tie eye up or down, and bending the metal lip up or down is crucial for bringing out the best in a plug. So is trying different tail hooks, single or treble with or without feathers or bucktail dressings. This takes time, and most guys don't do it. Every plug requires it. A few plugs will tune great. A few will never tune right no matter what you try, and most plugs will only ever be average. Take special care of the rare few that do tune well, since these will be the ones to account for most of your fish.

danny-slopeheadsr.jpg

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DANNY SLOPE HEAD Sr. Body length: 7-1/2" (excluding lip). Weight: 3-3/4 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

Does lure color matters or not? That is a question that always has and will be debated forever. I can easily debate that an expert with a white bucktail and rind can keep pace with any other color used by anyone else under any conditions. I can argue that a maven with a bone white topwater can outfish any other color used by anyone else - if the "bone" is in the hands of a man who can dance it. What's outfishing the other colors in these cases is the skill of the angler in bringing the deer hair and pig skin or the topwater puppet to life. So action if perfected to the utmost - outweighs color.

For the rest of us mere mortals who were not born to be fishing gods breathing life into white jigs or topwaters, what color we choose does influence what fish we catch. I recall one season long ago, Danny Pinchney showed off a batch of gold-backed plugs with either white or yellow bellies. I don't recall he mentioned much about them, except someone had been doing well with them somewhere. The details were not so important at the time, and evade my memory now. Well, Danny had these gleaming golden swimmers penned up in a box like a litter of pups who needed new homes, so we adopted them. You can never have too many plugs you know, and you never want to get caught in a blitz without at least a few of every plug ever known to mankind.

We never did anything memorable with these gold-backed plugs until one spring run when someone innocently tried one. Instantly it became the hot plug that spring - both white-bellied and yellow-bellied gold-backed swimmers. What we soon realized was bass that spring were feeding on a bounty of young-of-year coldwater groundfish. Bass were spitting up bellies full of golden-hued baby pollack, cod, whiting, hake, ling, tommy cod and their finny cousin species. For some reason that spring, a tremendous biomass of these type baitfish were in the surf - and bass responded best to gold-backed plugs presumably imitating this baitfish type far better than other color plugs. So that spring was one indisputable case where color did indeed matter.

As the season went on, the golden baby pollack plugs continued to catch well, and Danny produced several variations on the gold theme. One of the most beautiful of these golden patterns was this silver-bellied, gold-backed with metallic pink lateral line as shown here.

Based on what we learned that spring, we also discovered these gold-backed baits excelled well toward the end of the bass season when cold water species like whiting, ling, hake, pollack, cod, tommy cod annually returned to the beach zone.

danny-slope-head-sr-gold-silver.jpg

 

Worth it's weight in gold, a Danny Conrad Jr.:

 

danny-conrad-jr-gold-yellow.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 01:44 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DANNY SAND EEL. Body length: 7" (excluding lip). Weight: 1-3/4 oz without hooks.

This lure was known to me as the Danny Sand Eel swimmer. Danny made at least two sizes of it - a 5-3/4" and 7" size. Danny also made at least two head variations - a square head and a slope head. The square head tended to have a wider metal lip in it. This lure as shown, has the square head.

I do not know how long Danny may have made this lure type, but I did not see it myself until later in his plugmaking career. It's my understanding at the time, over twenty years ago, that these may have been experimental or limited prototypes. Whether that's correct or not, I personally have never seen too many of them, which may or may not be an accurate reflection of how many were actually made. I do not know how many Danny may have made these, but they were uncommon to me. Special Collector's Note: I believe these Danny Sand Eel plugs to be very rare.

It is my impression (which may be mistaken) that Danny experimented making these in response to a large population boom of sand eels in the surf at one time. With so many sand eels, slender lures like plastic-lip swimmers and needlefish became the popular fare of surf fish and fishermen alike. So it may have been a case of Danny experimenting to match the hatch. I just do not know, but that was my impression at the time.

An important point of interest to plug collectors and surf fishing history buffs about the rare 5-3/4" and 7" Danny Sand Eel Swimmer is that their size, shape and dimensions are strikingly close to the popular 6" and 7" plastic lip swimmers (Cordell Red Fins, Rebel Windcheaters, Bomber Magnum Long A's, for example). In fact, about as close as you can get in wood (in Danny's style). Whether Danny intentionally tried to emulate a plastic-lip swimmer, who can say? Not I. Yet it is plain to see the similarities between Danny's Sand Eel Swimmer (center) versus popular plastic-lip swimmers (top and bottom) in the photo.

mnmonntitled.jpg

 

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The slope head sand eell was rarer than the square cut head model. However, Danny never made too many of either. The one below is particularly rare since it deviates from Danny's signature herring pattern with the addition of a silver streak underneath the pink:

 

danny-sandell-herring.jpg

 

[ 01-06-2005, 01:47 AM: Message edited by: Bassdozer ]

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DONNY JOINTED GIANT. Body length: 10" (excluding lip). Weight: 3-1/4 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

Big lures catch big bass. Large jointed lures of this kind were all generically referred to in the vernacular of the beach as jointed pikies, no doubt a slang reference to similarity in body length and similar construction to the trademarked Creek Chub Bait Company's Jointed Pikie. The colloquial naming convention was that most all swimmers of any origin that were of this large jointed type construction were referred to by the striper brethren as jointed pikie type models.

Although these large jointed plugs could be used anywhere cow stripers roam, these large jointed baits were most commonly seen on the Cape Cod beaches from the Race in Provincetown down through Nauset and Chatham in Orleans.

It was customary to use heavy conventional reels, Harnell or Harrington rods and 80 lb. test Dacron with these large jointed lures. Such outfits were also used to toss the thickest two foot long rigged eels - or the huge jointed lures.

donny-jointed-pikie.jpg

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DANNY JOINTED GIANT. Body length: 10-3/4" (excluding lip). Weight: 3-1/2 oz more or less based on hook configuration, the particular piece of wood it's made from and subtle manufacturing differences. No two wood lures weigh (or fish) precisely the same (especially weighted ones).

Big lures catch big bass. Large jointed lures of this kind were all generically referred to in the vernacular of the beach as jointed pikies, no doubt a slang reference to similarity in body length and similar construction to the trademarked Creek Chub Bait Company's Jointed Pikie. The colloquial naming convention was that most all swimmers of any origin that were of this large jointed type construction were referred to by the striper brethren as jointed pikie type models.

Although these large jointed plugs could be used anywhere cow stripers roam, these large jointed baits were most commonly seen on the Cape Cod beaches from the Race in Provincetown down through Nauset and Chatham in Orleans.

It was customary to use heavy conventional reels, Harnell or Harrington rods and 80 lb. test Dacron with these large jointed lures. Such outfits were also used to toss the thickest two foot long rigged eels - or the huge jointed lures.

danny-jointed-pikie.jpg

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