"On Muskie Joe Stamper’s 90th birthday, he revealed a deadly fish-catching secret he had kept to himself for more than a half century."
Article by: Soc Clay
On Muskie Joe Stamper’s 90th birthday, he revealed a deadly fish-catching secret he had kept to himself for more than a half century. "I told ‘em all about everything I did to catch bass and muskie over the years, but I never told them about the double plug." Joe said, his eyes lighting up with fond memories about the fishing method he used all those years to earn the title as the best muskie fisherman in the South.
Joe’s long-held secret was his use of a spoon and a bucktail spinner - the double plug as he called it. His rigging called for a 1/4 ounce brass spoon tied directly to the end of his line, with a length of drop line tied to the rear eyelet of the spoon then attached to a much larger bucktail that trailed behind.
Today, veteran anglers know that even inactive game fish - be they bass, stripers, walleye, northerns, muskie-even catfish - will suddenly charge and strike a lure if another fish is following it. It’s called the greed factor and it means that fish are often so competitive for food they can’t stand allowing another predator to gobble up what could be their dinner.
Over the years, the concept of Joe’s double plug has been tried by several lures companies. Remember the Jim Heddon’s Bass & Fly lure? There have been others, but none of them seemed to work. That is not until Bill Gautsche perfected the Toga Leader and Whirlybird bucktail.
Today, there’s a growing swell of support for this deadly lure combo spreading across the country. As best as I can figure it, here’s why: Anglers have long known that big fish- I’m talking big bass (largemouth or smallmouth) walleye, stripers, northern and muskie- love a big lure. Bill, who spent the last 50 years in the fishing tackle industry, knew he needed a different type bucktail than the traditional in-line spinner he invented back in 1948. He wanted a lure so different it would attract a bite from even an inactive fish. The Billy Finn Whirlybird Bucktail, whice Bill invented back in 1951, with off-set arm offered part of the solution. The big lure with the new arm design made the Whirlybird much more weedless than traditional in-line models.
Too, the Whirlybird allowed anglers to use it like a traditional bucktail or a spinnerbait by lifting the rod tip and increasing the speed of the retrieve, it can also be fished like a buzzbait or allowed to drop below the water a few inches, allowing the big blade to bulge up the surface like a school of shad does in the fall. But Bill knew the lure needed something else. He’d never heard of Muskie Joe at the time, but he did know that his wife’s father used something similar to the double plug method back in the late 30’s and early 40’s when fish refused to bite.
To add appeal to the big spoon he trolled for huge muskie decades ago, he tied a short piece of string to his main line about a foot ahead of the spoon. The dangling string which flopped back and forth with the rocking of the spoon, would stir the interest in the most passive muskie or pike. Bill figured if he could develop a strong 9-inch leader with a single blade positioned near the rear eyelet, it would not only serve as a double lure attraction, but with the blade located far enough back, it would strike the eyelet of the bucktail causing a clicking sound. With this innovation, his Whirlybird bucktail suddenly became one of the most effective fish attracting combos on the market.
But wait.... Bill discovered the leader- he calls it a Toga Leader- was not only potent for bucktail fishing, a different model- one with the revolving spinner blade positioned close to the front of the leader- was tremendously effective when attached to the end of lipless crankbaits. Wow! Here was a front running attractor that gave lipless lures the zip they needed to enter the greed factor domain of game fish! On top of that, the two-tone finish on the spinner blade projects the image of more than one fish being chased by a larger fish behind.
Hey, there’s one more thing Bill has discovered and a host of guides and seasoned anglers are proving it nightly. By constructing a Toga Leader with a glow-in-the-dark blade, the Whirlybird bucktail and leader combo, has proven to be a dynamite night fishing machine for bell ringer size bass and walleye.
And don’t forget, Bill notes, about those walleye everyone is trolling for in big lakes and rivers. Talk about making a crankbait more effective for eyes, just tie on a Toga leader in front of the lure and see how much more effective trolling can be. No question about it, Bill’s new Toga leader - Whirlybird bucktail combo has exploded the deadly secret for catching big game fish that Muskie Joe and other great anglers have kept hidden all these many years.