Pass the Cigars
Class: Topwater Swimmer
Action: V-Wake with a pop
Weight: 1 - 3 oz
Length: 5 - 8 inches
Conditions used: Calm- moderately rough
Target Species: Striped Bass, Bluefish and Giant Trevally
Here on the west coast you would be hard pressed to run into a fellow angler throwing a wooden swimmer. Most are accustomed to throwing either bucktails or plastic swimmers like the SP Minnow. The wooden swimmer is more commonly thrown by surf fishing purists. They know the history of the sport and are familiar with all the different wooden plugs such as pikies, surfsters, lefties and of course the cigar.
I tend to view myself as a hybrid angler. I respect and acknowledge the legends of my sport while remaining pliable to new and better techniques that have evolved over time. One of the first wooden swimmers that I was introduced to is known as a Cigar. It’s basically a metal lip topwater plug designed to create a distinct v-wake across the surface. The disturbance created by the cigar v-wake is much more pronounced than the Red Fin. It was invented by a local west coast angler who goes by the moniker of “Winch”.
I think the year was 2008 when I purchased my first Cigar--- and not even knowing exactly how to work it. When I asked the inventor what exactly was the best method to work the plug his response was, “you gotta pop, pop, pop, swooosh, pop, pop, swooosh then hold on!” Being the rookie that I was at the time, I’m sure I had this look of utter confusion as I handed over my cash.
I will never forget the first chance I had to throw the cigar. It was an early weekday morning. I knew fish we around because people hooked up the night before. When I got to my favorite spot, I recall starting out with my usual plugs such as the schoolbus bomber and li’l neck popper. After several fishless casts I pull out my yellow cigar. “What the heck, let’s give it a shot,” I said. Conditions were moderate with the waves about 3-4 feet and breaking 14 seconds apart. I snapped the plug onto my line and casted over the crest of an oncoming wave. At that point I visualized the pop and swoosh demonstrated by the inventor when he described the action. After three cranks and a swooosh of my own, the plug immediately disappeared from sight after getting submerged by a hungry striped bass. I was in awe of what had just transpired given that I had never, ever hooked a striper on wood until that very moment. The action continued for the next hour or so. What made it even more memorable was the fact that I was the only guy catching fish! Everyone else was throwing a plain popper or pencil, but I was the only angler with a cigar. People would come up and ask what I was throwing but when I told them the name they would have this dumbfounded look on their faces. Some anglers didn’t bother to ask and just assumed it was a pikie.
Needless to say, the cigar has since been a very productive lure. It stays on top when reeled slowly or with hesitations, but it will actually dive a few inches if you reel faster. It comes in weights from 1 – 3 ounces and ranges in length from 5 – 8 inches. One of the best things about this plug is that the builder is willing to do just about any color pattern you desire. Here are some cigars in various designs--- including scaled.
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