It was a discussion that most bay fishermen may have considered worth the price of admission, but it was free of charge if you were within earshot at the time. I was at the Holder Show in Houston last Wednesday, did not have to work a booth for the first time in years, and was enjoying a busman’s holiday visiting with three veteran lower coast guides.

With nearly a hundred years of guiding experience between the four of us, there was no end to the slightly exaggerated experiences that we chose to cuss and discuss. Having sufficiently poor mouthed everything from gas prices to the lack of cooperation on Mother Nature’s part; one of the group posed a very interesting question.

“If you could use only one lure with your clients for the rest of your guiding career…what would it be?” We had all been in the business long enough to know that there is no single lure that can cover every situation, but it was an interesting exercise nonetheless. We were liberal with color choices only because some colors are so much better on one body of water than another.

Not surprisingly, all of us had different answers, which bodes well for the lure industry. I think that had two of the members of this aged group thought about it longer, they would have agreed with the third on using GULP. They felt like they had been duped after one of them had already declared allegiance to a Corky and the other sold out to a gold weedless spoon.

You have to remember that we were not asking one another what we had the most confidence in or what we like to fish the most, but what lure would best serve clients throughout the course of the year. Outside of the GULP option, we probably would have all listed some form of live bait if our life depended on catching fish on even the worst of days.

They were willing to cut me some slack on my choice, but judging by the look on their faces I may as well have chosen frozen shrimp. I think that they allowed me some latitude, as they are still not convinced that Sabine Lake is really a saltwater Bay. We get a lot of visitors on our pond, but not a lot of credit!

I do have particular tails that I have a great deal of confidence in, but my choice was a technique rather than a lure. I am convinced that a tail fished on two feet of fluorocarbon under a popping cork is the closest thing you will find to a guarantee on Sabine Lake.

To be even more specific and that was important in this discussion, depending on the time of the year, I would fish with either a 4-inch Assassin Sea Shad or the longer Texas Shad. The longer plastic seems to work better when the fish are on a mullet diet.

Once again, you have to remember that I had to choose a single lure or technique that gives the client the best possible shot at catching a trout, red, or flounder year round. There are many occasions when a plastic tail would catch more fish bounced off the bottom or retrieved much faster, but in either case, I believe the same tail fished under the cork would still catch at least a few fish.

My first choice in corks for this technique for better than twenty years was the original Mansfield Mauler. The Mauler was the prototype torpedo shaped cork with the wire running through it and rattling beads on both ends. It will still work, but I am now sold on an even more effective cork for this type presentation.

I have not found anything better than Old Bayside’s Paradise Popper X-treme and Bass Assassin’s Oval Kwik Cork. Several other companies produce virtually the exact same style corks, but there is one very important difference. I know of no other companies that use a titanium-composite wire with their cork.

The flexibility of the titanium wire assures you that it will never kink and all of the components will slide up and down the wire for the life of the cork. The first time the metal wire in the other corks takes a hit and bends even a little, you have lost a little of the magic with this set up.I use both the cupped (pp101) and either the oval (pp001) or Kwik Cork depending on how much surface disturbance I am trying to create with the cork. The Kwik Cork is available only in the 2 1/2-inch oval model. Employing a cork that moves more or less water is no less important from the top water angler trying to decide on a noisy surface walker versus the more subtle twitch bait. Aside from the ability to suspend your lure in the strike zone, the right sound is the major benefit of this rig!

The ability to keep a lure suspended in the strike zone coupled with a fish attracting noise is the best of both worlds as far as I am concerned. Until another company discovers something better than titanium wire, I will continue to buy the Paradise Poppers and Kwik Cork when I can find them.

Not one of the four of us would ever consider trying to make do with a single lure. I enjoy fishing everything in my box and I will continue to do so. Any lure that fails to attract fishermen will not be around long, but each of them is a tool designed to make it easier to exploit different depths of water.

While the popping cork-plastic tail combination will produce at least a few fish most days, I do not intend to fish two feet deep when the trout are suspended twenty feet deep in the river. When magnum specks are blowing up on She Dogs or crushing Catch V’s and Corkies on a dank wintry day, my popping cork is doomed to riding the bench.So, there you are. Outside of a lame joke about a blind fiddler crab, a question that generated four different answers was the highlight of our conversation and you got the answer free without having to fight Houston traffic!