In the May 1945 issue of Sports Afield, Jason Lucas wrote his third article on bass fishing. In this article he stressed the use of light lines for bass. Lines in the 6-pound class and small lures. Was he the first person to bring finesse fishing to the masses? Read the article and come to your own conclusion. Image May 1945 issue of Sports Afield.

Today in Lucas the Series 3 we continue looking at Jason Lucas’ first writings in Sports Afield, prior to his hiring as Angling Editor.  The series, titled New Angling Techniques, was published in six continuous issues from March through August 1945 and is considered the most important writings on bass fishing since Dr. James A. Henshall wrote his treatise on bass in 1881.

Today’s article, Light Lines and Lunkers, is sure to cause some debate amongst those who argue where and when finesse fishing started and who was responsible for it.  Talk to people in the west and they’ll say it was Don Iovino or Dick Trask.  Anglers in the Midwest give credit to Chuck Woods.  In the south they say it was Billy Westmorland or Charlie Brewer.

What do all these anglers have in common?  They were born around the time that Jason Lucas was writing about using light line and small lures.

But Lucas wasn’t the first expert to espouse the use of light line and tackle.  In Henshall’s Book of the Black Bass, he talked of using lines that wouldn’t test above “one-pound dead weight” before breaking.  And in Harold C. Hollis’ book, Bass Tackle & Tactics, Better Sport Through the Use of Lighter Tackle (published 1945), he talked of consistently using lines that tested out to 4 1/2-pound breaking strength.

Both Lucas and Hollis talked of using 1/4-ounce and smaller lures, with casting rods, for timid bass.  The light lines were not only harder to see but they allowed for longer casts and lures had better action.

So, has your mind changed as to who “invented” finesse fishing?  My vote goes to either of the anglers above.

Let’s get back to the article.

As with the first two articles in the series, Lucas opens with an anecdote about using light line.  This story is about him catching his personal best northern smallmouth bass, a fish that weighed over six pounds.

Lucas was using 8-pound test line, but it was beat up.  Once he’d hooked the fish, he wished he’d stripped some line from the tip and retied his leader.  Obviously, he didn’t do that and had to play the hand he dealt himself.

I won’t go into the story any further.  You can read how it played out.

After the smallmouth story, Lucas goes into the benefits of light line and the barbary of heavy lines.  In Lucas’ words,

“Here’s something I never could understand: why a man will tackle bass joyfully with a fly rod and fine gut leader, but is afraid to use anything much lighter than a whale line on his casting rod.

“…But most bass fishermen use lines of anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds, for fish rarely averaging more than two pounds…

“…The essence of sportsmanship is to give one’s opponent, man or fish, at least some sort of chance – and Lord knows the bass has little enough on a 6-pound line.”

In the article Lucas also wrote a sidebar (page 25 below) with the idea of starting a 6-pound and under club.  To be in the club, you couldn’t fish more than 6-pound test.  He asked readers to write in and state their opinions and give him an idea of how many anglers would be interested in such a club.

The response for Jason Lucas' Light Line Club. August 1945 Sports Afield.

The response was overwhelming according to the Sports Afield editor in the August 1945 issue.  There was one big problem, though.  World War II was still in play and all the line manufacturers were in war production.  Line of any type was in high demand and low supply.  Evidently light lines were the hardest to get.

That’s enough for me.  Below you can read the entire article and make your own decision about who should be credited with the introduction of finesse fishing.  Like I said above, my votes go to Lucas and Hollis.

If you missed Part One and Part Two of this series, please click the links to go back and read them.

Jason Lucas, Light Lines and Lunkers, May 1945 Sports Afield. Page 24.
Jason Lucas, Light Lines and Lunkers, May 1945 Sports Afield. Page 25.
Jason Lucas, Light Lines and Lunkers, May 1945 Sports Afield. Page 57.
Jason Lucas, Light Lines and Lunkers, May 1945 Sports Afield. Page 58.
Jason Lucas, Light Lines and Lunkers, May 1945 Sports Afield. Page 61.