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Plastic fishing worm still going strong

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
Nick Crme is credited with creating the first plastic worm in the basement of his Akron, Ohio home in 1949. The evolution of his creation continues today as new designs appear annually.
Crme's first worm was a far cry from the soft, "action worms" of today. The early version had about as much action as a stick. This was partially due to the fact it was attached to a harness with two or three hooks imbedded in the worm. The hook shanks prohibited the worm from having the natural squirmy action of a real worm. Several beads and a propeller or two completed the package. Many anglers believed fish were more attracted to the flash from the beads and propellers than from the lifeless worm.
Why this lifeless imitation caught fish was beyond explanation, but catch fish it did. Demand for worms increased. As a youngster, I can remember local people assembling the worm rigs at home for a large fishing tackle wholesaler in my hometown.
Many new impoundments had been completed about this same time. Big, new lakes and a new super lure had fisherman demanding more and better plastic worms. Bait manufacturers hurried to develop more lifelike worms.
Several years later Tom Mann, an Alabama game warden and avid angler, started cooking up worms in his kitchen. His experimenting with different formulas led to the development of Mann's Jelly Worm. This was a gummy soft worm that was sold by flavors instead or colors. He offered blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, watermelon and other tasty choices. This worm was an instant success and helped propel Mann into the spotlight as one of America's most innovative bait manufacturers.
Other companies sprang up and fishermen developed new ways to fish the new, more lifelike plastic worms. A group of fishermen in Texas wanted a way to get the new worms down deep in the brush and not get hug up. Their efforts resulted in what is now called the Texas rigged worm. Line is threaded through a bullet shaped weight and then tied to a hook that is threaded through the front part of the worm and the point imbedded into the worm. They had a design that would drop into brush, follow the bottom contour, and seldom hung up. The Texas rig is still one of the most popular methods of fishing worms across the U.S.
In the early 70s a Louisiana company, Mr. Twister, began marketing a short plastic worm or grub with a flat curly tail. This bait had fantastic action when threaded on to a lead jig. The jig-grub craze was born.
The family tree of the plastic worm has many forks, with tubes, lizards, slugs and other creepy crawler designs continuing to appear on the market. You can't go wrong with the basic worm or one of its' new cousins. After all, the worm has caught fish for longer than most of us have been fishing.