Iaconelli Has Warts

Based on bringing back-to-back 16-pound stringers to the scales, Mike Iaconelli has earned a solid seat inside the top of the standings at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Bull Shoals.

“I’d estimate that 60-percent of the keepers I weighed-in so far came on Warts,” said Iaconelli, the 2006 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

No, Iaconelli isn’t referring to virally induced bumps of the epidermis, but instead the vintage, erratic tracking, original Wiggle Wart lures launched to the market in the early 1970s by Storm Lure Company, then based in Norman, Oklahoma.

Iaconelli likes his Wiggle Warts like he likes his rap – old skool. The Wiggle Warts he’s using this week were made in the 1980s. They’re a thing of legend in Ozark area lakes like Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Beaver and Grand Lake. And they’re harder to find than last year’s Easter eggs, largely because they’ve been bought up at dusty tackle stores, garage sales, and on website auctions by hard cores like Ike.

Jim Morton, who competed in B.A.S.S. events for 16 years, and represented Storm Lure Company for a decade, explains the avid affinity of anglers toward the no longer made exactly like they used to be versions. “Most anglers don’t believe that the newer versions of the Wiggle Wart track as erratically, sound the same, or have the same exact legendary crawdad colored hues as the Warts that we built in the 1970s through the early 1990s.”

“I’ve got about 14 of the original Warts,” said Iaconelli. “I bought a dozen from Ish Monroe that he found in an estate sale, and I have a couple left from when I was a kid just getting into bass fishing.”

Iaconelli says that cloudy, rainy conditions with water temps in the 50s and 60s on rocky, clear water reservoirs make for the perfect conditions to catch ‘em on old Warts. And that’s exactly what Bassmaster Elite Series anglers faced on Day Two at Bull Shoals.

In a fun sort of way, vintage Wart anglers are an obsessive bunch. Iaconelli’s wife Becky confirms it. “Mike has walked around all week here at Bull Shoals repeating those two words -- ‘Wiggle Wart’ -- he’s fixated on them, he’s an odd man,” said the woman who dearly loves bass fishing’s most electric personality.

“I’d pay 50-bucks for one of the old skool ones if I knew it ran right, and was one of the crawdad colors,” said Iaconelli.

Iaconelli’s not alone. Jim Morton knows of several original individual Wiggle Wart lures that have brought hundreds of dollars on Internet auctions.

So you can bet if Iaconelli runs down leader Brandon Palaniuk at Bull Shoals, and wins the $100,000 first place prize, he’ll be willing to spend a good portion of his cash pot on any remaining old Warts.

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