Ask any smallmouth nut about Winco’s Custom Baits and chances are you’ll get a blank stare. They’re truly under-the-radar, and guys who do know about them, well, they keep it pretty close to their vest.
Designed and hand-poured by Al Winco, many have been painstakingly designed and tested to appeal to the selective palate and response of cold-weather smallmouths—and largemouths, for that matter.
Like the Baby Predator Craw, ideal for small creek and river fishing.
And then there’s the 2.25-inch Willie Wanabee, which resists snags yet allows for the open-mouthed “mushy” bites of cold-water brown bass.
Watch it underwater in this video.
And when situations call for ultra-finesse, the Chillee Willee/Undulator Cold Water Finesse Kit is downright dangerous.
My favorite all-around Winco bait is this hellgrammite/leech hybrid, which combines two bronzeback dinner faves into one irresistible snack.
Finally, along the lines of the Canadian “Black Fly” smallmouth secret, only better, check out Al’s Cold Water Hare’s Delight, which I’ve used successfully in the most difficult smallmouth situations.
Know that these lure examples are only a fraction of the problem-solving baits that Al has created at his workbench. Take a moment and cruise through his web site. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Here’s how to rig some of Winco’s Custom Lures: