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Kalin's 3.8-inch Tickle Tail

Kalin's 3.8-inch Tickle Tail
The Tickle Tail in the bluegill-orange-belly hue.

In the 1970s, a curly-tailed grub began to play a significant role in the repertoire of the pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing. And in some of these forefathers’ hands, the curly-tailed grub became even more dominant when they began employing the Lunker Grub, which was the creation of the late and great Al Kalin of Brawley, California, who played a significant role in the development of finesse fishing in California and several other western states in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It is important to note, however, that Midwest finesse fishing began a number of years before the anglers in California and other Western states discovered the manifold virtues of finesse tactics. And besides Kalin, several new elements to the ways that the forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing fished were created by Gary Yamamoto of Page, Arizona, and Bobby Garland of Kingman, Arizona.

Kalin died on April 20, and on April 29, Western Outdoor News published Mike Jones’ remembrances of Kalin. Jones’s words provoked us to reflect about Kalin’s contributions and to see what was going on with the company that still bears his name, which has been owned by Acme Tackle Company of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, since 2007.

To our delight, we discovered that it is manufacturing an array of soft-plastic baits that cater to the piscatorial tactics of the modern-day practitioners of Midwest finesse fishing. Two of their recent innovations are the 3.8-inch Tickle Tail and three-inch Tickle Grub.

Ultimately, we exchanged emails and had a few telephone conversations with Matt Bichanich, who is the vice president of sales for Acme Tackle, about those two baits. He, also, provided us with some samples for us to work with and thoroughly examine in order to publish a gear guide about them.

Here is what we discovered about the Tickle Tail.

It is a small swimbait, which has begun to replace the old-fashioned curly-tailed grub in the repertoire of some Midwest finesse anglers.

When it is measured along its dorsal area, it is 3 5/8 inches long from the tip of its head to the tip of its tail. And when it is measured along its ventral area, it is about 3 15/16 inches long. When the Tickle Tail’s torso is lying on its ventral area, its paddle-style tail stretches, which makes it five-sixteenths of an inch longer than it is when the Tickle Tail’s torso is lying on its dorsal area.

The silhouette of its torso abstractly resembles the profiles of shiners, daces, chubs, fathead minnows, and several other species of minnows.

It is devoid of dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. There are no eyes and gill membranes.

But beginning at three-sixteenths of an inch from the tip of its snout to about a quarter of an inch from the torso’s junction with its paddle-style tail, each side of the torso is adorned with 31 tentacles that sport a ball. The first eight tentacles are one-eighth of an inch long. The next 17 tentacles range in size from about three-sixteenths of an inch long to five-sixteenths of an inch long. The final six tentacles are about one-eighth of an inch long. The balls have a diameter of about one-sixteenth of an inch, and the tentacles have a width of about one millimeter. According to the folks at Kalin’s, these tentacles and balls were designed to “catch water to produce a strong vibration.”

Its head, torso, and tail are solid.

The tip of it head is oval shaped with a slight indentation, which is where anglers will insert the hook and bait keeper of a jig. It has a width of about one-eighth of an inch and a height of about three-sixteenths of an inch.

Its dorsal and ventral areas are slightly convex. Its sides are virtually flat. And except for the 62 tentacles and balls, its epidermis is smooth.

At one inch from the tip of its head, its torso has a circumference of 1 9/16 inches. The height of its sides is about eleven-sixteenths of an inch. The width of the torso is about three-eighths of an inch.

At two inches from the tip of its head, the torso’s circumference diminishes to 1 3/16 inches, and its height is seven-sixteenths of an inch. The width is about three-sixteenths of an inch.

As the torso approaches its junction with the tail, the torso becomes smaller, flatter and thinner.

At three-quarters of an inch from the torso’s junction with its tail, which is sometimes referred to as a fish’s caudal peduncle area, its circumference is about eleven-sixteenths of an inch. The height is one-quarter of an inch. The width is about one-eighth of an inch.

From the tip of its head to the beginning of its caudal peduncle area, which encompasses 2 3/8 inches of its torso, its ventral or belly area is wider than its dorsal area. From that spot of the torso to the junction with the tail, the widths of the dorsal and ventral areas are about the same.

At the torso’s junction in the tail, the height increases to a half of an inch. The width of its dorsal area in one-sixteenth of an inch, and the width of the ventral area is one-sixteenth of an inch.

In the nomenclature of much of the angling world, the Tickle Tail is endowed with a paddle-style tail. Some anglers, however, call it a boot tail. It is thin and possesses a smooth epidermis. It is eleven-sixteenths of an inch long or high. It is a half of an inch wide at its widest spot.

It is manufactured in the following hues: Albino Shad, Bluegill Orange Belly, Chartreuse/Pearl Hologram Flake, Electric Blue/Chartreuse Tail, Firetiger, Shiner, Silver Ghost, and Sunny.

It is not impregnated with scent nor salt.

It is buoyant, which is a great attribute in the minds of Midwest finesse anglers.

A package of eight costs $4.99.

It has been heralded as “generating an enticing swimming action that is unlike any other soft-plastic swimbait.” It even exhibits an alluring movement when anglers employ it with a deadstick presentation.


  1. Here is a link to Acme Tackle’s web site:
  2. Midwest finesse anglers can present the 3.8-inch Tickle Tail to their black-bass quarries by employing all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves and slight variations of those retrieves. Here is the link to our Midwest Finesse column that explains how to execute those retrieves:
  3. In the near future, we will publish a gear guide about the Tickle Grub.

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