March 16, 2017
By Ned Kehde
In the various histories that we have penned about Midwest finesse fishing, we have occasionally noted that crayfish played an important role in how and where we fished — especially in the Ozark region of Missouri. And during those early years of Midwest finesse fishing, we used live crayfish.
Our usage of live crayfish changed when Dion Hibdon of Versailles, Missouri, created the first soft-plastic crayfish for his school science project in 1977. Then for years on end, the Hibdon clan made and wielded various manifestations of Dion's creation. They called it The Guido Bug in honor of Dion's father, Guido Hibdon, who used it to catch untold numbers of black bass at various waterways across the nation.
Nowadays, there is a multitude of soft-plastic crayfish for power and finesse anglers to wield, and Tightlines UV Lure Company of Maryville, Missouri, has created a three-inch one that has caught the attention of a goodly number of Midwest finesse devotees.
It is called the Whisker T-Crawfish. And according to Brett Ware, who is the proprietor of Tightlines, it will be introduced to the angling world sometime this spring as part of their line of new products.
The Tightlines' creation is anatomically detailed. The dorsal view of its thorax, carapace, cervical groove, and rostrum are quite realistic.
Beneath each side of the rostrum is an eye. Extending from the rostrum are two long antennae, but there is no antennule.
A pair of chelipeds or claws radiates from the side and belly of its thorax.
Its mouth is behind and under the antennae and in front of the two legs that support the chelipeds or claws. Its mouth leads into a hollow cavity in the center of its torso. This cavity is about an inch long, and an angler can insert a container of rattles into it.
Instead of possessing four jointed walking legs, which also include gills, that radiate from the belly of a crayfish's thorax, Tightlines' T-Crawfish has 23 thin strands of silicone that radiate from each side of the thorax and behind the legs that support the claws. These strands are similar to the ones on the skirts that jig makers affix to the collar of a jig. The folks at Tightlines call these strands of silicone whiskers.
The three-inch T-Crawfish's abdomen has five tergums. The anatomy of the last five-eighths of an inch of the T-Crawfish abdomen does not replicate the anatomy of a crayfish. Instead, it is encircled with eight pronounced ribs. The tip or end of its abdomen is dome shaped.
The belly of its thorax and abdomen is flat. The shape of its dorsal side or back exhibits a hemispherical shape.
A small appendage extends from each side of the thorax, and it is situated from the fourth tergum and second rib.
The T-Crawfish is manufactured in the following colors: Blue/Black with Blue Black Tip, Blue/Black with Chartreuse Tip, Blue/Black with Purple Tip, Blue/Black with Okeechobee Craw, Craw with Craw Tip, Craw with Craw Purple, Green Pumpkin with PBJ, Green Pumpkin with Light Blue Green, Green Pumpkin with Marti Gra, Green Pumpkin with Tonic, Texas Red with Black Red Tip, Junebug with Purple Tip, Junebug with Chartreuse Tip, NANO Blue with Blue Black Tip, NANO Blue with Tonic, NANO Blue with Okeechobee Craw, Watermelon Red with Black Red Tip, and Watermelon Red with Purple Tip. Ultraviolet colors are infused into the T-Crawfish torso and whiskers.
The soft-plastic torso is impregnated with a crayfish scent.
A package of five cost $6.99.
(1) Midwest finesse anglers will employ the T-Crawfish on a mushroom-style jig, such as Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig. When a Midwest finesse angler inserts a No. 4-size hook of either 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig into the dome-shaped tip of the abdomen, it emerges at the fourth tergum. These anglers will employ it with an exposed hook. For more information about Gopher's jig, please see the Midwest finesse column at this link: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/a-short-and-informal-history-and-tour-of-gopher-tackle/.
(2) Midwest finesse anglers will utilize the T-Crawfish affixed to a Gopher jig with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves or slight variations of those retrieves. Here is a link to a column that describes how and where we employ these retrieves: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.
(3) Here is the link to Tightlines UV Lure Company's website: http://www.uv-tackle.com/.
(4) Tightlines has a product that is called The Fish Bomb. It is an ultraviolet enhancer with a crawfish scent. A 5.75-ounce aerosol can be purchased for $9.99. Read more about it at this link: https://fishbomb.com/products/view/hi-viz_crawfish.
(5) In regard to the history of the soft-plastic crayfish phenomenon, it is important to note that the Hibdons, back in the 1980s, used a needle to fasten two strands from a jig shirt onto their Guido Bugs to create antennae and antennule.