On Nov. 2, 2016, we published a Midwest Finesse column that featured three days of fishing with the folks at Gene Larew Lures on Oct. 19, 20, and 21 at three waterways in northeastern Oklahoma.
In that column, we noted that on our Oct. 20 outing that we became intrigued with the effectiveness of a tactic that Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Oklahoma, calls "bottom bugging" with a 4 1/4-inch Larew's Sooner Run Biffle Bug affixed to either a 7/16- or 11/16-ounce copper-hue Larew's Biffle HardHead with a 4/0 hook. Biffle bottom bugs with a 7.0:1 baitcasting reel that is spooled with 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line. His rod is a seven-foot, six-inch flipping stick.
Biffle is a dyed-in-the-wool power angler. Throughout the day, he never uttered a laudatory word about spinning rods and finesse tactics. But he did confess that he recently began carrying a spinning rod in his bass boat. This radical move was caused by his days of competing on the Major League Fishing circuit. He said that some of his fellow MFL competitors "will pound you to death with one-pounders." Therefore, he has acquired a spinning rod and hopes to learn how to wield a drop-shot rig.
In addition to spending five hours and 33 minutes watching Biffle, we conversed with George Toalson of Claremore, Oklahoma, and Andrew Upshaw of Jenks, Oklahoma, throughout the day. And they informed us that they were virtually waylaying smallmouth bass in 1 1/2 to three feet of water on the 4 1/2-inch Sooner Run Biffle Bug and a 7/16-ounce Cooper-hue Biffle Hardhead.
Biffle, Toalson, and Upshaw fished similar locations. They probed flat shorelines and points, focusing on underwater terrains that consist of gravel, rock, and boulders. Some of these locales were enhanced with an occasional stump, laydown, and brush pile. They fished water as shallow as six inches to as deep as 10 feet. Toalson and Upshaw fished shallower than Biffle; most of their casts landed at the water's edge. Biffle's casts were five feet and often more than 10 feet from the water's edge.
Biffle made long casts, ranging from 60 to 90 feet. And as soon as the Biffle Bug and HardHead touched the water at the end of the cast, he began turning the reel handle. The pace of the retrieve was quick. He retrieved the combo as fast as he could while allowing it to be in constant contact with the bottom. The fast pace of the retrieve keeps it from becoming snagged as it traverses across the rock- and boulder-laden terrains. Some folks might say that he was polishing the rocks. (In some ways, it is similar to the way the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, used to polish the rocks with his finesse presentations.) Biffle says it allows him to quickly dissect a lot of water at a pace similar to that of wielding a lipless crankbait, but he says it catches more bass than a crankbait catches. As he reeled, the tip of his rod ranged from the 2:30- to 4:00-o'clock position. The handle and butt of the rod are nearly perpendicular to his belt buckle. When a fish engulfs the rig, he sets the hook by vigorously moving the rod either to the left or right, keeping it almost parallel to the water.
And since our outing with Biffle, Toalson, and Upshaw, we have been thinking about how Midwest finesse anglers can do something similar to the bottom-bugging routine with their spinning rods and a smaller creature bait affixed to a smaller jig.
One of the creature baits that we are eager to experiment with is Larew's smallest Biffle Bug, which they call the Biffle Bug Jr.
It is 3 1/2 inch long. From its tiny coned-shaped head to the junction of its wide tail, its torso is encircled with 17 pronounced ribs. Along the middle of its belly and back, there is a long trough or indentation that severs 15 of the ribs. The torso is flat, and from the sixth rib to the junction of the tail, it becomes hollow. Unlike a tube, the hollow portion of the torso is oval shaped rather round or tube-like shape. The torso is solid from the fifth rib to the tip of its head, which facilitates affixing it to a mushroom-style jig that is endowed with a bait-keeper-style collar. At its widest spot, the torso is three-quarters of an inch wide. The hollow portion of the torso allows an angler to insert rattles and gel-like scents. (Biffle uses Larew's Biffle Bug Juice, which is a crayfish-and-garlic gel scent.)
Four appendages branch out from each side of its torso. Three of them are somewhat similar to the swimmeret appendages situated along the belly portion of the abdomen region of a crayfish. The longest swimmeret is a half of an inch long; the shortest is three-eighths of an inch long. The fourth one is curled with a small boot adorning its tip, and when it is curled it extends about seven-eighths of an inch from the side of the torso, and if it becomes fully extended, it is about 1 3/4 inches long. The folks at Larew call it a kicking leg,
Its flat tail is uniquely cupped, and it has a patent registration. It is about 1 3/4 inches long and a half of an inch wide.
As we begin experimenting with the 3 1/2-inch Biffle Bug, we will affix it to a 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig with an exposed hook. We will employ it on a spinning rod and reel. The reel will be spooled with eight- to 10-pound-test line, and we will experiment with braided, fluorocarbon, and monofilament lines. And we will attempt to emulate the bottom-bugging retrieve that Biffle, Toalson, and Upshaw employed with their baitcasting outfits and power tactics on Oct. 20. If we cannot get this combo to work properly, we will have an 1/8-ounce and a 3/16-ounce Gopher jig at the ready.
It is available in 49 colors. Those colors can be seen at Larew's website; for the link, see endnote No. 2.
A package of eight can be purchase for $4.99.
As the months unfold, we hope to report about our endeavors on the Finesse News Network, and perhaps we will publish a Midwest Finesse update about what has transpired with our bottom-bugging deeds. And it might also become a tool to employ with our standard swim-glide-and-shake Midwest finesse retrieve.
(1) Here is the link to the Midwest Finesse column about fishing with the folks at Gene Larew Lures on Oct. 19, 20, and 21: https://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/three-days-of-fishing-with-the-folks-at-gene-larew-lures
(2) Here is a link to Larew's website: http://www.genelarew.com.