I almost cried the day I heard that STORM Pee Wee Warts were going to be discontinued. Though small, those little babies packed a mean punch when it came to pulling plugs for steelhead.
Since then, my supply has dwindled to almost nothing — snags, kicker props and some rampaging kings have all done their part to relieve me of my stash of Pee Wees. On eBay, they’re going for more than $20 a pop — when you can even find ’em.
So, when I found out that Brad’s Killer Fishing Gear was producing an almost carbon copy of the Pee Wee, I ordered a bunch. My troubles were over…or were they?
At first glance, Brad’s Lil Wiggler and an original Pee Wee look pretty much identical. In the photo below, you can see that the plugs look like twins separated at birth. The red one is a Brad’s and the other is a Pee Wee.
And same goes for the underside…again, pretty much the same lure:
Brad’s offers most of the classic “Pirate” and “Raider” paint jobs that have been favorites of steelheaders for decades. They also offer some extremely unique and sexy looking color schemes that are sure to get anglers excited.
The Bad & the Ugly
Unfortunately, general appearance is where the similarities end. In the water, the two lures are completely different animals. My first two Lil Wigglers wouldn’t run at all — they’d spin and then immediately pop to the surface. I tried changing hooks, first adding heavier trebles because it seemed like the lures were too light (kinda like a Hot Shot 70) and getting overwhelmed by the current. When that didn’t work, I tried the rigging that was my favorite on Pee Wees — a single #4 Gami siwash:
When that didn’t work, I called the factory and they were surprised I was having trouble. I decided to try the non-rattle model to see if it had better performance. Nope…
In fact, of the 15 Lil Wigglers I purchased, I have only found two that I can kinda get to run — and they both have a “wandering” style of action…they dive and then start to track off to the left and then come back to center and then they’ll pull off the other direction for a while. I’m not against some wandering, but the problem with it is they won’t stay down in anything but the slowest of steelie water. And probably for that reason, I’ve yet to get bit on one.
Now, to be honest, all Pee Wees weren’t perfect, either. Some of them just wouldn’t run no matter what I did to them. But, the ratio was better. Out of 10 lures, I usually could get 7 of them to become starters in my rotation.
So, what’s the problem? A good question. I’m no engineer, and with little lures like these that are so influenced by subtle factors, you almost have to be one to figure out what’s going wrong. I did notice, however, something that could be a clue. When dropped into the water side-by-side, Pee Wees ride much higher than do Lil Wigglers.
In these next couple photos, check out where the waterline is on the lures. The black one (Brad’s), rides with its bill way underwater and the waterline sits at the middle of the eyes; while the Pee Wee’s head and bill floats higher.
Again, I’m not sure if that has anything to do with anything, but there is clearly a difference there…
While I’ve had many good experiences with the larger models of Brad’s Wigglers, I just can’t seem to get the Lil Wiggler to run — and, with my Pee Wee collection about gone, lord knows nobody wants them to work more than me. Maybe there’s a quick fix and Bard’s can get these babies tuned up in the future. Here’s hoping!