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By Rich Johnson

No one’s ever accused me of being a literary critic or a reader of great literature and some say if it doesn’t have fishing, the New York Yankees or NY Jets in it you may not find it on my desk. To go as far as quoting Shakespeare in a fishing article may also be slightly askew. However, as the man himself once said "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Well in fishing the same could be true of the most versatile artificial lure and that’s the bucktail. The bucktail is such a versatile lure on most species; the Military services deploy bucktails as the lure of choice in survival kits…because they catch fish.

The bucktail is a lead head lure that comes in a variety of styles and colors. It is a fixed hook lure, which is put in place within the mold before the lead is poured. However, there are bucktails that have a free-swinging hook as part of the lure. This hook is attached after the pouring process, to a preset eye that is molded into the bucktail head. The bucktail gets it’s name from the hair or "dressing" it receives to give color, body, texture and profile. It’s real deer hair from the tail of a deer; hence the name "buck" tail. These days, bucktails are dressed with all kinds of natural and synthetic fibers from natural materials Marabou and saddle hackle feathers to synthetics like flashabou, bozo hair and tinsel type materials. A tip for our readers: Use white on clear sunny days and yellow on cloudy days with pink or chartreuse in stained water. Use either squid strip or tip with spearing, but not both at the same time. There are many types, but I’ll take you through just a few of them. 

SMILIN’ BILL. This bucktail is the standard and most common item found in anglers’ tackle boxes. It’s called a Smilin’ Bill because the front of the bucktail head looks like an open or "smiling" mouth, usually painted red. You depart most of the action to this one by lifting and dropping your rod tip on the retrieve. In hard running currents, it will swim itself.

LIMA BEAN. Has a thin and narrow head in the shape of a lima bean and is my choice in a slow moving current because the shape of the head will slice through water and tide giving the lure extra side to side action. Very good when fishing very small bucktails.

CANNON BALL. This is self-explanatory as well. The lead head is round like a cannon ball. However this type has a free-swinging hook and is better for bottom fishing on a hard tide because of the density and shape of the head. In the last couple of years, these cannon balls have undergone a major new look, exploding to become the hottest thing on the market today by adding one major change…manufacturers have chromed the cannon ball. The ball is now solid chrome and very shiny, almost to a mirror finish and comes under a variety of names that includes, but are not limited to, West End Tackle manufacturer’s Fluke Bullets and a variety of other Chrome Bullets type cannon ball bucktails.

These are a must have in your tackle box and in the Amityville to Lindenhurst area, the only place to find these Chrome Bullets is Bob’s B&T (842-7573) in Amity Harbor. You can go further west to Hudson Point (867-9608) in Freeport or Bay Park Fishing Station (766-3110) in Oceanside. The Fluke Bullets can be found in Causeway B&T (785-3223) of Wantagh and West End B&T (889-4393) of Long Beach or Jack’s B&T (718-885-2042) in City Island and Bernie’s B&T (718-646-7600) in Sheepshead Bay.



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