Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Origins of the Square Back Minnow (I almost didn’t make the 5 inch Club-O)

Quite a few years ago there was a big federation tournament here on the river. Stanley asked me to show one of their pro staffers around the area. In exchange they sent me two large boxes of baits and “stuff” to give away at the Pro/Am tournaments I used to run. I met up with Joey Nania and his fishing team member/partner/buddy and we headed out. It became apparent very quickly he was ON a river wide bite on a watermelon red soft jerk bait. I mean he was on them. That bite actually lasted for several weeks, and Joey wound up finishing 5th out of I think 280 boats.

In between the time I went out with Joey and the time of their big tournament I had a local pro/am tournament to fish, so I headed over to Sportsman’s Hide-A-Way for some watermelon red jerk baits. There weren’t any. Nowhere in town. Joey had come bought every single bag of anything close in every store in town. That might have backfired on him because now everybody knew what bite he was on. I didn’t tell anybody.

When I went through my stuff I found one bag of watermelon red flukes. I told my fishing partner if there were any left at the end of the day he could have them. I used them until I couldn’t piece them pack together on a hook and caught fish all day long. At the end of the day I had one unused watermelon red fluke left over, and true to my word I gave it to my fishing partner so he would have one (1). LOL.

That night I started working on a soft jerk bait mold so that would never happen again. It was kinda styled after a Fluke(tm), but I didn’t want to make it exactly the same. I gave it a wider deeper hook slot hoping that would have the double benefit of making it glide further on a twitch and have a better hook up ratio. Both of those things worked out. Also it has a particular feature mostly due to my design and machining knowledge and skill limitations at the time. It has a flat square back. It was also in the back of my mind that the homosexual movie Broke Back Mountain was still popular around that time. I figured the name Square Back Minnow was both descriptive and provocative. Well nobody got the provocative part, but the name stuck.

The bait worked. It had a long glide on the twitch, and it had a great hooked ratio. I thought it was better than a Fluke. I whacked fish on it for weeks in watermelon red. When that bite started to fade I started shooting various heavy salt laminates similar to those I was using with the 4 inch Club-Os.

4 Inch Club-O - Courtesy CNC Molds N Stuff
4 inch Club-O Courtesy of CNC Molds N Stuff

I often used it like a Club-O. I’d just toss it out and let it sink. Interestingly in the right formula the tail would sway back and forth. I figured I had my 5 inch bait. I didn’t need a 5 inch Club-O.

The problem was other people didn’t see the Square Back Minnow the same way I did. They would ask me, “Can you make a 5 inch Club-O?” but they just seemed to see the Square Back Minnow as a twitch bait only.

Even after I showed people what the Square Back Minnow did they would just stop talking to me if I didn’t say anything but, “Yes sir. Right away sir. I’ll be making that 5 inch Club-O for you on the double sir.” For me it was stupid so I didn’t make the 5 inch Club-O for a while. I didn’t think I needed one. Finally I did make it though and it is a great bait with tremendous casting distance and an almost natural forward swimming free fall action when Texas rigged on a 5/0 heavy hook on braided line. It was better than the 4 inch Club-O and I had won tournaments using the 4 inch. I got into using the 5inch Club-O. I was kind of invested in it. I caught a lot of 4 pound fish on it, and as some of you might remember OneFish (dlopez) caught several fish over 7 pounds on it. One fish almost every time I took him fishing.

Bob with a fish caught on a 5 Inch Club-O
5 Inch Club-O - Courtesy CNC Molds N Stuff
5 inch Club-O Courtesy of CNC Molds N Stuff

I pretty much forgot about the Square Back Minnow. I never worked up the mold for general sale. To most folks they just look at it and think its a Fluke knockoff. Its not, but I admit it has that look. I haven’t had any in my boat in years and have not fished with one in longer than that.

One Sunday morning when Captain Tony Jackson (Fin Chasers Guide Service) and I were sucking at fishing on Mittry Lake I happened to mention I had often managed to eak out a few keepers dragging soft jerk baits over the grass in the past. (fishing tip alert) He started looking through my boxes. When I realize what he was looking for I let him know I didn’t have any in the boat. When we stopped by the shop later in the day I went through my cabinets and found a couple jerk bait boxes. One had a couple small handfuls of the Square Back Minnows in Club-O-esque heavy salt laminate colors. When we got out on the river he threw that bait more than any other and he whacked fish on them. I threw the 5 inch Club-O most of the afternoon. I think he might have caught more fish on the Square Back Minnow. To be fair to the 5 inch Club-O I also threw 4 inchers and Curly Buzz Frog Minis and caught fish on those as well as poppers and a hard jerkbait.

I still do not make the Square Back Minnow Mold for General sale, but it did inspire me to eventually make the Flu-Ko. A mold I have modeled in several sizes. AND I have caught plenty of fish with them. Profiled like a jerkbait and lightly textured like a stick bait. Heavy salt or no salt. Floating or sinking.

Currently I have a 4-1/2 inch mold and a 6-1/2 inch mold listed on the CNC Molds N Stuff website, but I have modeled it in several sizes as you can see in the image below.

Meet the Flu-Kos - A whole family of sizes to meet your need and match the hatch.
2-1/2 in thru 6-1/2 in Flu-Ko Courtesy of CNC Molds N Stuff