Fishing's Most Versatile Tool?

Mists blow in off the Big Lake before dawn. We sliced through them with small, 1/6- to  1/8-ounce Acme Little Cleos and Luhr Jensen Krocodiles — classic casting spoons. One out of 10 casts would be fired parallel to shore, into 2 feet of water, where big browns, steelhead, and lakers were not afraid to corral smelt and alewives in the pre-dawn darkness.

By 10 a.m. we were digging into our "pier gear" for a 1- to 2-ounce Acme Kastmaster. Start short, end long. Rising light chases salmonids deeper and farther from the end of the pier. For some, the Kastmaster is a classic jigging spoon for walleyes through the ice. For us, it was a long-cast, fast-drop tool that seldom failed to bring the last trout or two back to the pier. Today, we're finding new and different ways to catch fish with these versatile lures.

Versatility can be measured by a variety of means. Jigging spoons can be cast, pitched, or trolled. They can be jigged vertically year 'round. But there's another measure: How many species does it apply to?

All of them. I can't think of a predator that can't be taken with a jigging spoon and, in most cases, every species can be triggered in every way you might fish it. Stripers, salmon, browns, smallmouths, largemouths, redfish, sea trout, lakers, walleyes, saugers, bluegills, crappies, dog fish, pike, rock fish, rainbows — those are just some of the species I've hooked into with jigging spoons.

Spoons like the classic Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple (shown above) are universal solvents — meaning they can catch almost anything at any time of year. Some might say a jig is more versatile — but not by itself. You need to add a minnow, crawler, piece of plastic, or at least a skirt to be effective with a jig. Spoons catch fish without additives and become great options to have along on any excursion when the bait runs out.

One of the most universal methods for triggering any predators using depths of 10 to 20 feet is to snap-troll with jigging spoons. Using the appropriate weight (matched to the speed and depth), the spoon is pitched out 30 to 60 feet behind the moving boat. The spoon is trolled with the rod tip pointing down until it touches bottom, then it's ripped upward 3 to 7 feet with a sharp, exaggerated lift of the rod. Resume trolling and rip it again when it touches to catch browns in harbors, smallmouths in rivers, walleyes in lakes, stripers in the ocean, etc.

Walleye tournaments were won in open water this year with PK Lures jigging spoons. The new PK Panic — an articulated spoon with two tiny Colorado blades at the juncture between segments — is one of the most innovative introductions of the year. It would be the spoon in the photo above, but I only had one along and it was taken by a muskie. (I had a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader attached and had 1 foot left when I reeled in. No worries — my friend, owner Pat O'Grady, is developing new muskie sizes for next year.)

Last year, jigging spoons took 8 of the top 10 spots in the Last Mountain Fall Classic in Saskatchewan. For a more detailed look at those events, how they were won, and other new and exciting things happening with jigging spoons, pick up a copy of the 2013 Gear Guide this winter. We highlight some new things you really should try — if you're interested in catching everything, that is.

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