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GULF COAST FISHERMAN
Tackle Time - Winter '96
by Max Hunn

MAKE A RATTLIN' WORM

Sound can be a detriment, or it can be an asset when fishing. If you stomp around with lead feet in your boat, the odds are great you'll spook any nearby fish into the next county.

On the other hand, the right amount of noise will attract fish to your artificial lures, sometimes with surprisingly vicious strikes. There are plugs on the market that capitalize upon such as popper, chugger or propeller types. These noisy lures are standard in the tackle boxes of all serious anglers.

Soft plastic worms have gradually become salt water lures, too. but have you ever thought about or considered how to make plastic worms noisy? It can be done.

Like most anglers, for years I thought a plastic worm was strictly a silent type of lure. I assumed that without seriously considering the question until I met Loren Wilson, a dedicated South Florida angler who was convinced that noise does increase the effectiveness of the plastic worm.

He was so dedicated to the idea that he wouldn't fish a large worm without inserting a small, glass rattler which he had learned to make. When using a 7-inch or larger worm, he always used a noise maker. However with shorter worms, which usually are thinner, a rattler wasn't practical. There isn't room in the worms body to insert a rattler.

He convinced me there was merit to the idea by citing several successful experiences. "Put a rattler in a plastic worm, and you increase the worm's effectiveness. A rattling worm will produce consistently, I know from experience. It's the same idea that has proved so effective with plugs."

There's little doubt that the addition of a glass rattler increases the effectiveness of a plastic worm, particularly if you are fishing murky water where the fish home in on their meals by sound rather than sight. But rattlers are not limited to murky water. They can help in all types of water, and all types of cover. Any where you can fish with a regular worm, you can fish with a rattling one.

Because of his dedication to fishing with glass rattlers, Wilson learned to make his own noise makers, and in the process improved on the commercial version marketed.

By learning to make your own glass rattlers, you can be certain of having an ample supply on hand when needed. You will lose some from time to time when a fish takes your worm around a stick up, reef or other underwater hazard. Or you just lose the tiny items from your tackle box, or the rattler works loose from the worm while fishing. Rattling worm fishing requires a good supply.

More important than instant availability of a large supply is the improvement in rattler design you can make when making your own. The few commercial noise makers available are rounded at both ends because of quantity production methods. But you can custom make noise makers with a sharp point in one end. This make it possible for the rattler to be inserted easily in a plastic worm, not always the case when the noise maker is round at both ends.

To make custom made rattlers you need 4-mm glass tubing, which can be purchased by the pound. The glass comes in four-foot lengths, which you melt into one foot sections for ease of handling. One pound of glass will make approximately 1,800 rattlers.

The rattling sound is make by the no. 9 shot which are inserted into the glass tube. Only three are used. More than that might be too heavy, and impair the action of the worm.

Three make just the proper clicking sound that entices rather than frightens the fish. Some claim the clicking sound mimics the sound of live shrimp. Others say it has an unknown special appeal. Regardless of any theory, the rattling does appeal to fish.

It's a little tricky getting the shot into the tube. But it's a relatively simple procedure once mastered. You take a new glass tube with one end rounded - the result of melting the larger lengths into more convenient sections - and dip open end into a container holding no. 9 shot.

You line up three shot in the tube and then tilt it so the no. 9's slide to the closed end. Of course, if you get too many shot in a tube, you have to start all over. Or you can use a pair of needle nose pliers and pick up the shot one at a time, and drop them into the tube. This too, can be tricky.

Then holding the glass tube at the opposite end with one hand, you hold the little rattler-to-be with a pair of needle nose pliers over the gas (propane) flame. Heating the glass to its melting point, you close the open end with a sharp point, locking in the shot. At the same time you round off what becomes one end of the next rattler.

In order to get the rattler to have a pointed end, you keep the glass rotating carefully while shaping the end being closed. By deftly twirling the long glass tube you can shape the point, and melt the rattler free from the main stock.

If you want to add a new dimension to your salty, plastic worm fishing try adding rattlers to con the fish. It's no great problem to make your own. Glass rattlers do make plastic worm fishing more effective.

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