“This is my new favorite topwater lure,” Tim Mann said, showing off a Chrome/Black Boy Howdy before casting is just past a stick-up beside a seawall in a canal.
Mann, who is long-time tournament bass angler from Jacksonville and a serious threat to win any tournament on the St. Johns River, acknowledged that a Boy Howdy is far from new and that he has known about it for decades. He just hadn’t given one a chance until a little more than a year ago. That was when he discovered that the Boy Howdy makes a different sound than other prop baits, with highly dependable action, and that the fish find it irresistible. The newly discovered Boy Howdy immediately became a staple in Mann’s box and a lure he keeps tied on virtually all the time.
“It’s a great shad imitator and makes and ideal sound for calling up bass,” he said. “I’ve also found it to be very durable.”
While a Boy Howdy has applications 12 months a year in Florida, it’s especially important to Mann during the first few months of the year for pre-spawn bass and spawners. Last year, it produced several “money fish” for Mann and his tournament partner during the pre-spawn and the spawn.
When the fish start cruising shallow prior to the spawn, which often begins in December in Florida, Mann might fish exclusively with a Boy Howdy, working methodically through canals and across spawning flats to find pre-spawn fish.
When bass are bedding, he’ll use a Boy Howdy to find fish, and either or his partner will fan-cast one off the back of the boat while the other targets a specific bedding fish. It isn’t only for blind casting, though. Sometimes a bedding bass that won’t quite commit to a soft-plastic lure worked through its bed will come up and hit a Boy Howdy.
Excepting when he is trying to tease a specific bedding bass into biting, in which case the presentation can become painfully slow, Mann fishes a Boy Howdy the same way all the time. He works it with repeated, light downward snaps of his rod tip. He uses a steady cadence at a moderate speed all the time. Strikes are normally decisive but sometimes deceptive in the sense that unremarkable-seeming strikes sometimes turn out to be very large fish.
“They’ll fool you,” Mann said. “You’ll think you have a small one until it’s hooked!”
Mann’s casting approach varies according to the type of area he is fishing. If it’s a vast flat, he’ll make long casts and fan the area as he gradually moves across the flat. That said, he remains ever on the lookout for little grass clumps, stick-ups, weed edges or other features bass tend to utilize when they spawn. In canals and the backs of coves, his casts are shorter much more target oriented.
The Boy Howdy comes in five colors, but Mann sticks with Chrome/Black because it suggests a shad and simply because it works so well that he has no reason to use anything different.