Musky America Magazine

Bigger Is Not Always Better For years, my good friend John Dettloff, has been reminding me of the fact that small hooks used to be the ‘order of the day’ back in the early days of Muskie fishing. The lures of the past (Toppers and Surf- Orenos) all used small hooks, mainly because the large hooks that we use today would adversely effect the lure performance. I have been hearing this, but the information was doing a ‘Fly-by’ on me until this year. In April, I was in Hayward getting things ready for the season when John took me to a local antique store looking for vintage lures (one of John’s passions). Among the mass of stuff, was an old red and white Surf-Oreno. It was a bit beat up but still looked functional…John told me that if I bought it I would probably catch fish on it. I plopped my money on the counter ($15.00 as I remember) and I was the owner of my first Surf-Oreno. The lure needed a bit of maintenance (new hooks and screw eyes) but once that was accomplished the lure was ready to go. It was ready to go but I still did not have confidence in the lure since it was small in size and used small hooks. Like most modern Muskie anglers, I embrace the belief that bigger lures mean bigger fish and bigger lures use big hooks. After beating the water for a week without fish in the boat, it was time for a change in tactics. I rummaged through my tackle box and the red and white Surf-Oreno seemed to scream to be used. Randy Thompson, a friend and fishing partner, and I hit the water for some afternoon fishing. This year there are a lot of areas where the weeds are very thick (slop) due to the fact that the water had not been dropped very much during the winter and we decided to see if the slop was holding fish. Picking your way through the open areas of slop can be frustrating but it has the potential for rewards. Randy used a "weedless" bucktail and I decided to see what the Surf-Oreno would do. The first thing I noticed was that the smaller hooks made it easier to get the lure through the slop without getting loaded up with weeds. It was also easier to cast to specific locations in the slop without overly disturbing the serenity of the water. As I repeatedly pitched the Surf-Oreno, I began to understand the versatility of the lure.