Getting a wary seatrout or redfish to attack an artificial lure isn’t always a problem. However, if they’re big and trophy-sized, they’ll often spit the lure out just as they get to the rod tip. Years ago, in a faraway place called Texas, Mr. Paul Brown, a retired postmaster, handmade soft lures called “Corkys” and sold them by mail order to anglers all over the gulf coast. These $5 plugs were deadly on trout and reds, as they were soft-bodied and fish had a tendency to hold on long enough to be hooked by their treble hooks. The only problem was that Mr. Brown would often run out of plugs and a “knock-off” market grew. Lures with names like “Dorky” appeared on shelves, manufactured by Kalin and Tsunami. The only problem with those lures was that those mass-producers didn’t understand the weight and balance of the original lures. I remember finding an entire table of the knock-offs on a remainder table in Jacksonville for .75 each! I bought a bunch, was disappointed and lost most to a thief who robbed our fishing camp at Steinhatchee. I hope they enjoyed not catching fish with them!
When Mr. Brown retired (again), he sold the lure design to the folks at MirrOlure, but only after he was sure they could successfully produce his lures. The full line is now available from MirrOlure or from almost any tackle shop in Florida. Several varieties are now made, including the smaller Soft-Dine and the Devil.
Another option to a big, chewy soft plug is the Airhead, from D.O.A. Lures. These need to be rigged by the angler with a single, offset wide-gap hook, but that allows many options in terms of weight and fishing depth. Most anglers like them to sink slowly or suspend in the water column and simply rig them with a 4/0 or 5/0 hook and no weight.
A final entry into the soft plug world of saltwater (and maybe even freshwater?) fishing is Capt. Joey’s Slick plugs. These are a cross between an Airhead and a Paul Brown Devil, offering the angler great fish-attracting action as well as the ability to slowly suspend at different rates, depending on which single hook the angler uses. Joey’s lures are available at Gary’s Tackle Box in Gainesville, or directly from Joey at 352-226-3226
Aside from all these plugs having a great advantage regarding how well they attract fish, is that they all sink slowly, allowing the angler to use them in very shallow water. The Paul Browns (Originals, Fat Boys and Devils) all have treble hooks and are fairly snaggy. However the Airhead and the Slick can both be rigged weedless and less prone to grab onto rocks or sea grass. Weedless lures offer a big advantage in the late spring and summer, when grass beds shed and huge rafts of floating debris appear close to shore.
No matter which of these lures you choose, expect them to increase not only the number of bites you get, but also the number of fish you actually put in your cooler or release well.