"POOR MAN'S NEEDLEFISH"
Hook: Eagle Claw L67 or L1197N
Over thirty years ago, when he was guiding in Sannich Inlet and working as a commercial salmon fisherman, Tom Moss invented the "Tomic" plug. Tomic plugs became an immediate sensation for the commercial salmon troller and, soon thereafter, the plug of choice for many sport fishers. The first all plastic-bodied salmon plug, the Tomic not only caught fish, but was extremely durable.
While some nostalgics may argue that the wooden "Lucky Louis" plug was the best mass-produced salmon plug, it had to be handled very carefully. Its finish could crack and the balsa wood body absorb water. Commercial trollers couldn't take the time to dry and inspect each lure, and a water-logged plug didn't have the right action to catch fish consistently.
Tomic plugs are available in a wide range of sizes, from the two-inch "Wee Tad" for trout, up to seven-inch plugs that are popular with Port Alberni anglers in late summer. In general, Tom and his son Wayne recommend the five-inch size, which my wife Suzanne and I found extremely effective fishing at Knight Inlet, Campbell River, and the west coast of Vancouver Island. Recently, Tom and Wayne also discovered that the Wee Tad, rigged with a 4/0 single hook and trolled quickly, was absolutely dynamite on trophy-sized fall coho, and attracted a number of tyee as well. On a recent trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands, the guides showed all the guests how effectively six-inch Tomic plugs could attract chinook. A well-stocked tackle box should carry an assortment of two- to six-inch plugs, especially in colours #158, #232, #600, #602, #632, and #700. In Barkley Sound, many guides always fish one line with a three-inch Tomic plug in colour #600, and at Knight Inlet, a five-inch Tomic in colours #158 or #602, while in the Queen Charlottes almost any lighter-coloured six-inch plug seems to work.
The six- and seven-inch sizes are most effective when chinook are near or at the mouths of their spawning rivers, and not actively feeding. In late summer, these larger plugs are extremely effective around the head of Rivers Inlet, around Port Alberni, and in the "Tyee Pool" at Campbell River.
The Mosses designed a custom-made plug just for the Tyee Pool, called the "Tubby Tyee." The Tyee Pool is a special area at the mouth of Campbell River that is restricted to rowboat fishing, and the somewhat more tapered design of the shorter and fatter Tubby Tyee allows for greater action at extremely slow rowing speeds. While the "Tubby" version of their plug is very effective at normal trolling speeds as well, the Mosses feel that an angler using motorized trolling needs only a regular Tomic plug, rather than paying the additional cost of this custom lure.
Catching coho often requires fast-trolled lure. The "Broken Back" Tomic is a jointed plug that whips its tail seductively when trolled between two and a half and five knots. Coho find this plug irresistible in a 4.75-inch size, in the colours #632 or #654. Tomic also makes a version of this lure with an eye in the tail for a trailing hook, as well as with an eye in the head for a single hook.
The two treble-hook version of the classic Tomic plug is called the "Multi." The treble hook in the tail of the plug puts more weight at the back, which keeps the tail of the lure away from the line when casting. The classic version of the plug was difficult for freshwater anglers to use as a casting lure because it would rotate, and the hooks in the head would tangle in the line. The Multi plug, and the Broken Back with tail hook, are both great casting (as well as trolling) plugs. Since both float, they are excellent topwater plugs for bass or pike in the spring.
For anglers who choose to use the line eye/tow bar that is fixed in the head of the plug, the Mosses recommend using the "Berkley Trilene" knot to tie leaders to their plugs. The Berkley knot is best, but any knot that can really be tightened so it won't slip will do. The knot should be placed on the top flat side of the eye, so that it is at a right angle to the eye, and tightened so it can't slip. The placement of the knot "tunes" the action of the plug so that it will swim head-down and evenly from side to side. The leader can also be adjusted using an elastic or a bead swivel and elastic on the leader, above the knot, to position the pull on the plug further up the back of the lure, which imparts a more erratic, crippled fish action.
When using lighter lines one can easily remove the tow bar and run the leader freely through the body of the lure where the tow bar passed. Now if a fish breaks off or cuts the line with its teeth, the lure will just float back to the surface. To prevent cut-off, many guides use tandem hookups tied with 50-pound test dacron, then tie the hookups to the main line passed through the plug.
The Mosses' latest invention is the "Terminator" spoon/wobbler. Selected anglers in Europe, the United States, and here in B.C. extensively tested this lure before its introduction, and declared it one of the best multi-purpose lures around. The lure has the leader threaded through its body, which has a number of holes drilled along its length in the head and tail. Placing the line through different holes in either the head or the tail gives the lures different attitudes (head down with tail up, level, etc.). Each attitude imparts more or less action, and can also make the lure swim more or less erratically.
The unique feature of this lure is that the sides curve concave up along the back. From what I saw in the test tank at the Mosses' home, the lure wobbles up and down in a porpoise-like swimming motion, then suddenly sideslips, threatening to turn completely upside down or to start spinning. The concave sides prevent the turnover, and force the lure back into its wobbling action. The threatened flip looks enticingly like a wounded baitfish trying frantically to regain its upright orientation.
The holes also allow the lure to be rigged differently for trolling or casting. Hooks can be attached to the head only, the tail only, or both the head and the tail. Numerous combinations of hooks, hook sizes, and hook placements along with different line placements give the Terminator almost any configuration for the desired casting or trolling action.
The concave back will hold small stick-on weights, or scent pads to give even more versatility. Tom Moss likes to fish his Terminator with a hootchie threaded onto the tail. The ways to fish this lure are limited only by imagination.
The Terminator can also be used as a flasher in front of small anchovy bait or bucktails. When used as a flasher, the leader is threaded through the Terminator so it exits from the top and is tied to a bead swivel to allow the bait or bucktail to rotate freely without spoiling the action of the Terminator. Using a 4.5-inch #237 Terminator as an attractor, 30 inches in front of a small anchovy in an Anchovy Special, I caught two trophy chinook in Howe Sound the very first time I used it.
The two sizes available are 4.5-inches, and 3.5-inches. There are 15 colours. Testers have found the green-blue colours #109, #500, and #738 excellent for coho, and "Army Truck" #168, mother of pearl #602, "Old Yeller" #169, and black sparkle #712, effective for all salmon. The testers liked the "Killer" colour, #315, for trout.
In my own informal tests, I found the 4.5 -inch Terminator in colours #203, #602, and #700 extremely effective for chinook. Coho seemed to like the 3.5-inch Terminators, especially when trolled 36 to 60 inches behind a flasher. Terminators, with a large white or green hoochie threaded on the back and fished very close to the bottom, are deadly for halibut. We also found Terminators, fished without a flasher, have so little resistance, that even a small fish can give a good scrap.
The Tomic Terminator now also come rigged with a spinner blade at its tail. Known as the TNT (short for Tom's New Toy), this newly rigged Terminator provides that extra edge of flashing light that can be very enticing for fish under a variety of fishing conditions. TNT's are available in all standard Terminator colors with the option of gold or silver spinner blades. According to Tom Moss, this lure gives a lifelike action with an extra flash as an added advantage.
The Mosses, Tom's partner Mary (who is also shop foreperson), and their small crew produce all their lures at the Mosses' home in Sooke. Each lure is hand-painted using an airbrush - real works of art! Although they are busy producing a vast array of lures, the Mosses' boat is always ready to "test" some lures at a moment's notice.
For more information on Tomic lures for casting and trolling, contact Wayne Moss, at P.O. Box 550, Sooke, B.C., V0S 1N0. Their Internet address is http://www.tomiclures.com which can also be accessed using the link from this site; phone 250-642-3214, fax 250-642-7789:
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