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Article from Field & Stream, written by Cliff Gardiner & John Keller

Every serious angler I know has at least one retired lure or fly stuck on a pegboard in the basement, on a shelf in the man cave, or dangling from the garage rafters. Whenever I see one, I have to know its story. Unlike with a bowling trophy, the reason for putting a lure on display isn’t obvious. It’s personal to the angler. Of all my “shelfers,” these three are my favorites.

Wall Worthy: The ­battered Phantom Softail glide bait that hooked the author’s first muskie.

For two days in Dec. 2010, my friend Mark Modoski and I had been pounding the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania for muskies with guide Red Childress.

It snowed the whole time and was the kind of bitter cold that forced us to suck down Advil like hard candy because our hands were so cramped. On our third and last day, I was the only one who hadn’t connected. Late in the afternoon, Childress gave me a red Phantom Softail glide bait to throw, and we motored back to a known honey hole. With only minutes of light left, a muskie pummeled that lure right next to the boat.

It was just 35 inches, but it was my first muskie ever, and it happened to be my birthday. A few weeks later, I got a package from Modoski with that Phantom Softail inside.

He had called Childress asking to buy it, but Childress gladly sent it along gratis. In the package was a note: “Every­one has to keep the lure that caught their first muskie.”

Pre-Retirement Tip: Work just the tip of the rod in short strokes when you’re retrieving a glide bait. Moving the whole rod will wear out your upper body faster.


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