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In the past couple of years, there's been a boom in the demand for handmade, wooden striper plugs""so much so that basement-based plug shops in the Northeast are sprouting like Starbucks. And since this craze in custom lures started, a few makers have begun to stand out as the masters of their craft, creating wooden works of art that dupe big bass. We tracked down six of the best plug makers from Massachusetts to New Jersey for the inside scoop on how to work their most popular lures.
The Old Pro
Maker: John "Habs" Haberek
Shop: Hab's Custom Plugs; Smithfield, Rhode Island
Plug: Hab's Needlefish
As the owner of Hab's Custom Plugs (www.habscustomplugs.com), Haberek may be one of the best-known builders in the country, but he still turns most of his plugs himself in the shop behind his house. No Hab's plug is more in demand than the needlefish, which comes in four styles. The founder's favorite is the one-ounce stubby in white""even for night fishing. "Baitfish don't change color after dark," says Haberek. "White mimics a variety of bait, so I'll use it over black." For the best action, Haberek reels tight to the lure right after splashdown and retrieves with the rod tip at 11 o'clock. What's the best speed? "If you're not completely bored, you're reeling too fast."
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