Part II: Working the "Corky"

In this segment, I will be discussing my foundational method of working Paul Brown lures and certain ideas you can use on the water to bring your Paul Brown lure to life. Particularly, the Floating and regular Original and Fat Boys as well as the Devil will be touched on. I personally do not throw the Soft-Dog, Soft-Dine, or Soft-Dine XL and I would be remiss to comment on their effectiveness. Also, for the record, I am by no means an expert and there is never any one way to present a lure. The content herein has been derived from my own personal experiences and numerous interviews with some of Texas’ finest anglers.

Regular Fat Boy/Original

My foundational basic approach to a Fat Boy or Original is rather simple. It involves rhythm, cadence, flexion of the wrist, and that’s about it. Everything else can be augmented which we will get to. As a general rule of thumb, you want to stay in contact with any lure you are using and that proves especially important with a Paul Brown lure. In other words, try to refrain from having too much slack in your line.

Slack limits the necessary movement of the lure and can hinder the feeling of a bite. Also, always be mindful of how your lure is presented underwater. This can prove useful when you know the structure you are fishing and at what portion of the water column the fish are generally holding. To start, think of working an Original or Fat Boy the same as you would a topwater. While there are vast similarities in techniques, there are also some slight variances. For example, I don’t necessarily need flexion in my wrist to achieve the desired side-to- side movement in a topwater and I’ll usually have my rod tip at a more elevated angle. Nevertheless, a Corky is just a topwater under water. It will move side to side in a similar fashion to a topwater creating sound from the bead and vibration from the action. Simply rhythmically flex your wrist while twitching the rod in conjunction with reeling. The reeling action is not fluid, but rather, a quarter turn of the reel handle immediately after or during a twitch. From a third person side-angled POV of someone performing this technique, the rod should move almost in a figure eight type motion with the rod tip moving down and up and the handle traveling in a reciprocal fashion. I’ve seen some folks work a Fat Boy similar to a soft plastic rigged on a jig head with hard twitches and no reeling. While I’ve seen trout caught using this presentation, this approach won’t provide that side-to-side movement and might not produce the results you are looking for. The rod tip will typically be angled at a 45 to 75 degree position if you want to the lure to move and up in the water column.

If you want the Corky to remain in the lower half of the water column work the rodtip below your chest or to the side at a slower rate. Note: If you want the Original or Fat Boy to sink faster you can also bend the tail and nose slightly downward. Like any twitch bait, change things up in cadence, twitches, and speed of presentation to achieve the desired effect. Once you’ve established what the fish are seeking, repeat that exact same presentation over and over until the bite stops or slows drastically.

As previously discussed in “Part I: Choosing the Right Corky”, if the bite dies down considerably, switch to a different type of lure. I’ve found that a soft plastic rigged on an appropriate weighted jig head can be a great asset in your wading box. I know many anglers who start the day with a soft plastic as opposed to a Corky to ‘locate’ the fish.

Floating Fat Boy/Original

The Floating Fat Boy and Original will work very similar to the non-floaters. I have found that with my tendencies I work the floaters too fast and all too often I see the lure skip over the top of the water. So, to correct this, I wait a few seconds after the lure hits the water, put my rod tip down, and slow down my presentation to keep the lure in contact with the perceived strike zone. While we are on the subject of speed, let’s dive further into the strategy and presentations you can use on the water.

When wading, I generally like to make three to four casts in different areas within a 180-degreeish radius before moving forward.

Next, I generally like to take a few steps forward before stopping and making another 3-4 casts. I do this maybe two or three times before changing up my presentation. Some people believe a lure change is the right thing to do when in actuality a slight change in presentation could all be that is necessary. The number one question I ask myself after a tough day on the water is, “Did I switch lures more times than presentations?” If the answer is yes, than that’s what I hone in on for the next trip. I might put one or two different types of lures in my wade box to force myself to change the presentation rather than the lure. This also will help you stumble across new presentations that you can put in your toolbox for future trips. So, whether working the floating or regular Original or Fat Boy, decelerate or accelerate the retrieve, vary the number and aggressiveness of twitches, change the angle of the rod, or slow down or speed up the pauses. Changing up just one of these four tactics or combination thereof could mean the difference between a big fish or no fish.

Devil

The Devil is a hybrid adaptation or transition of a soft plastic and an Original/Fat Boy. This lure comes with one treble hook and will sink at a faster rate than its sister baits. There are literally hundreds of ways to work this lure. You can work it like a Fat Boy or Original, or you can present it similar to that of a soft plastic. The options are limitless. I know people who simply bring the rod tip up and down and then reel. Find what the fish want, and stick with that presentation. Tip: Keep the rod tip down when working the Devil to keep this lure in contact with the bottom.

Rigging & Rods

I prefer using a fast lock swivel; however, I know of guides who tie directly onto the lure and some that favor a loop knot. The rigging is up to you; however, I do favor using braid with a mono or fluorocarbon leader.

The reason I like braid with Paul Brown lures is because it does not stretch which means I am able to stay in contact with my lure easier. Too stretchy of a line coupled with too flimsy of a rod can place unnecessary limitations on the action of the Corky.

I prefer using a stiff backed rod with a somewhat sensitive tip. There are tons of Texas and out of state rod companies that are high quality that get the job done. Blood knots to combine lines are useful, but you can also purchase various swivels that can accomplish the same objective. Also, remember to check the body of the Corky after each fish caught to ensure that the body of the lure is straight. The presentation can be funky if the lure off kilter.

Myths & The Struggle

We’ve all heard them. “Corkys don’t work year-round.” “If you think you areworking a Corky slow, work it slower.” So what’s the ‘Speckled Truth’? For starters, I’ve personally caught fish year-round on a Corky and I’ve used fast presentations in throughout various times of the year. Do fish want it slow, moderate, or fast? Ask the fish is my response. They are your true critics after all. What about this one? “I never catch fish on a Corky so I stopped using them. What a waste of money!” Oh how I love that one. First off, you can work a Paul Brown lure like the pros. It just takes a little practice like with anything else. Secondly, it wasn’t a waste of money.

All you have to do is scour social media or the Internet and you will find that this wonderfully crafted artificial bait has been proven time and time again.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are no two ways to skin a cat. If you feel like you need more information or instruction, hire a local reputable guide and explain your objectives and goals. Ask questions. As I grow older and mature as a fisherman, I realize that there are so many methods and tidbits of information that I don’t know. Experts like Captains Bruce Baugh, Steve Hillman, Mike McBride, Kevin Cochran, Chad Peterek, and David Rowsey to name a few, can fill those gaps. And remember to practice.

Logging countless hours on the water is priceless and can facilitate your growth and confidence as a fisherman.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for all the comments and views we received in Part I of this blog. I sincerely appreciate all the nice words and am thankful for the opportunity to share some of my knowledge with the fishing community. Please stay safe out there, help your fellow fisherman when in need, and remember to have fun!

See ya’ll (Texas pronounced) on the water!

Andrew Leal