Bass Lures – Reviving the classics!

Classic Bass Lures – Reviving the classics!

Standby for a lot of rusty hooks on show here! Apologies for that,but some of these lures have been hidden in the depths of my old lure boxes for some time…

It really is that time of year when the doldrums set in… Thoughts and even dreams of those balmy summer evenings and crisp autumn mornings are in ascendancy – you’re even looking forward to the 0300 alarm in order to make it onto the rocks at dawn!

I imagine a lot of bass/lure anglers out there are busy preparing themselves for the new season and I suspect that for many, this will involve adding to your lure collection? But here’s a thought – is it worth resurrecting or reviving a few of the old classics? The lure that rarely let you down? Or the lure that you caught your first bass on perhaps?

Before ball bearings, weight transfer systems and lip-less minnows were commonplace, bass/lure fisherman had to ‘make do’ with a relatively limited (certainly by today’s standards) assortment; yet many were achieving some fantastic catches. So will these lures still catch bass now? There’s only one way to find out and that is to replace the split-rings and hooks and get out there and use them; which is exactly what I intend to do this coming season (alongside my current favourites of course!)


The single most common reaction to many of these ‘vintage’ lures is ‘they don’t cast very well’  My response is that I can ‘hand on heart’ say that 80 – 90% of my bass catches (on lures) have been made within 10 yards of my stance. Admittedly, compared to the IMA Salt Skimmer, a Storm Chug-bug doesn’t cast a huge distance, but that is immaterial if you know ‘how and where’ to successfully target bass.

Below is a selection of my own lures, all of which have accounted for bass at some stage in my education – indeed, some of them are still regulars in my own lure box or the ones I take out for my guided sessions. But, I wonder how many of the ones I haven’t used for a while will ‘clean up’ and look ‘the business’ again with a couple of new trebles on them?  Will they still attract bass?

Yes, I think they will

Rapala J13

One of the ‘all time classics’ and arguably the most recognisable lure in the World? The vibration you feel through the rod/rod tip is something else on the modern lure rods! I love using these where deeper gullies are present and lots of white water is crashing into them (think disoriented small fish) – a lethal lure that I still use regularly.


Daiwa TD Pencil

The ‘open gill’ system that set these lures apart (subtle bubbles are created) still looks fresh today. I once lost a huge bass (it grounded me on an exposed rock and thrashed about until the braid parted!! grrrrrr) that nailed the TD Pencil in a really remote cove, where bait fish were getting obliterated. A good lure to utilise when a modicum of subtlety is required, say in low light conditions when the sea is calm or with a slight chop.



I appreciate that many lure anglers will still use these ‘absolute’ total fish catchers however, I imagine there will be just as many (possibly new to lure fishing for bass) that may not have given the ‘Redgill’ a try. White is, without doubt, my favourite colour but black and red have all been highly successful over the years. These were the lures that my Uncle’s used from the boats (trolling close to the headlands) in order to catch large numbers of bass, but they are just as effective from the shore.


Rapala J11

Why is it separate from the J13? Well, it ‘runs’ far shallower than the J13, isn’t as brash and therefore, is great to use in calmer conditions. Once I’d worked out ‘where’ to catch bass along my local coastline, the Rapala J11 became my most consistent lure – I would estimate that 50% of my early catches were made using this lure – it is that good. Again, it doesn’t cast particularly well (unless you’ve got the wind behind you) but find the right mark such as a promontory of rock, 2 – 10 ft of water with a bit of current whizzing past and it will hammer bass – what better small pollack or gobie imitation is there?


Duel Aile Magnet Slider

What a fantastic lure! Boy did these things become popular 10 – 15 years or so ago. One of first lures (that I used) with a ball bearing or weight transfer system incorporated, these lures really did account for some of great catches of bass. The smaller version is again, more subtle and the larger model is a complete beast! I love them… happy memories (right where are those new trebles!!)


Rebel Jointed Minnow J20/J30

Another lure that brings back memories of reading ‘Hooked on Bass’ by Mike Ladle and Alan Vaughan. I would literally dream about buying one of these lures, casting it over some rocky, weedy reef and latching into a stunning bass – something I did get to realise many times over. The J20 (smaller pattern seen below) is a thing of beauty in my eyes! It’s definitely time clip one on again I think…


Maria Chase BW

A lure that I do use very often as they are brilliant. Probably one of my most consistent ‘minnow’ type lures; certainly in the last 10 years. Very sandeel like when retrieved, they cast pretty well and remain stable in fairly rough sea conditions. If there is one lurking in the bottom of your lure box, then maybe the coming season offers the ideal opportunity to ‘let it swim’ again… The one below still catches bass and is about 7 years old.



Another type of lure that I always have with me when lure fishing is the humble spinner. They might appear somewhat agricultural by modern lure standards and they don’t necessarily offer ‘finesse fishing’… But if your main objective is to catch a bass, then a spinner will often put that fish on the rocks when every other lure in the box hasn’t managed to produce – especially in rough sea conditions. Make sure you carefully retrieve these right up to the rod tip too, as a bass will very often attack them at the very last second.


Storm Rattling Chugbug (11cm 26g)

You didn’t think I was going to leave this one out did you!! Anyone that follows my blog, has been guided by me or fished with me will know that I have a real affinity with the good old Chugbug. It remains the lure that I have caught more bass over 5 lbs on than any other. Look for tables of surf breaking over a shallow reef on an incoming or tide – they are deadly if you ‘chug’ them (quick wind of the reel or twitch the rod tip) to ‘spit the water’ forward and them let them drift in the waves or current, then repeat – don’t continually ‘plough’ them through the water.


Countless classics

I imagine there are countless lures out there that are classics in their own right, by virtue of being consistent bass catchers for you – it would be great to hear about them!

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling









  1. Would love to be able to get the rebel j20/30 lures but they don’t make them anymore just like the bass bullets from cox & rawl. Shame cause they work just as good as the 20 to 25 pound lure. Great work on your blog love reading it & best of luck at Veals ?christopher


  2. A great blog Marc.
    As a sometime user of classic tackle, an ABU spinning rod,Cardinal reel and a J11 / J13 plug = pure retro heaven.
    You’r right, they don’t cast far but who cares.


  3. Well done on becoming a consultant for VMO. When I first started lure fishing for bass I rang Veals and described the ground I would be fishing ( shallow sandy inlet from a kayak) and they recommended the Maria chase bw and the Yozuri crystal minnow. Both lures arrived the next day and I caught on the Yozuri on my first trip. That crystal minnow went on to account for the majority of my fish and would be at the top of my classic list. Thank you VMO.
    I still use Rapala jointed lures and red gills when I get chance to troll from the kayak.


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