In the aesthetically rarefied world of fishing lures, there are
different schools of thought.
Some prefer the minimalist works--the dainty flies with hand-crafted
precision that almost elude comprehension.
For the big-fish hunters who need immediate impact rather than subtle
nuance, there's nothing quite so satisfying as maximalism.
In a strange, lure-oriented grotto at Bongos Sportfishing shop in
Newport Beach, maximalism reigns supreme.
The truly massive pieces are suspended from the ceiling, where the
only illumination comes from a creepy blue light overhead and the air is
filled with the sound of twinkling chimes.
They are squid or, at any rate, squid-like in form.
Bulbous and rubbery, with clammy, florescent tentacles, the lures hang
like so many perverse salami in some twisted version of an Italian deli.
One of the squid is imprisoned in a plastic bag. Its rubber flesh is
flecked with gold and purple glitter flakes. The label on the bag reads
"B2 Squid. High-Tech Hootchie."
What can be the possible justification for these creatures?
"They're used primarily for shark fishing," said Bill Gorham, captain
of the boat Tailchaser, which is one of the vessels that takes Bongos
charter customers out for fishing trips. "They're also used for bluefin
It turns out, Gorham went on to say, that there is an extensive body
of theorizing behind the gross matter of the lures themselves. Men have
been wracking their brains for years to determine how, exactly, a bunch
of rubber and dye can be made to simulate vigorously flipping marine
"There's two basic theories," Gorham said. "One theory is you try to
match the ambient light conditions. The other theory is you try to
Gorham is in the camp of the contrasters. He likes to use bright
lures, like the fluorescent squid, on dark days and black lures when the
But perhaps more difficult to fathom is the psychology of that strange
creature, the lure-buying customer. The best lure in the world won't
catch any fish if it does not first attract the angler's gleaming Visa
Gorham stated it most clearly: "The guy has to look at the lure and
say, 'If I were a fish, I'd eat that.' "