Product Review: Western Fishing Operations

Posted: March 23, 2012 by Hellcat in Fish Reports, Gear Fishing, News, Salmon, Trout & Steelhead, Tips & Advice
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As seen on’s Portland Fishing Examiner on line magazine.

The following is an product review by Christopher Heller of Rusty Bell’s plastic baits company, Western Fishing Operations (WFO from herein).

To say that I am old school would be innaccurate. At least to me. But I suppose with almost forty years of fishing, 33 or so I actually remember (fished as soon as I could grip a rod butt) I might be old school to some. I bring this up because it’s a relevant perspective for any anglers out there using plastic worms or craws under a float to catch steelhead and salmon. Fishing a plastic worm under a float is certainly akin to many of our bass fishing roots.

I was recently and graciously invited to fish with Rusty Bell of WFO Tackle Company. This was both an honor and a tremendous learning experience. It also brought up a school of thought in our discussions on the boat that day about how often an angler who begins with bass, lake or river, ends up the most productive and well versed steehead anglers. Certainly when it comes to fishing plastics. The technical nature and necessity for precision involved in a successful bass angler’s game is a natural transfer to this game of river angling.

I fished my very first season successfully with pink plastic worms under a bobber 9 years ago. Again….not old school by my account because I learned from wiser anglers than I….but a decent amount of time ago none-the-less. Especially for a method that continues to immerge in veteral angler’s repetroire all the time. I’m guessing you have some pretty excellent fishing partners that still lament about how they’ve never done the ‘worm under the bobber’ genre. Which is what is has become. A genre…no longer a single dimension attempt.

Coincidentally, when I was gathering information for this article from Rusty, I mentioned my first steelhead catches on plastics under a float were Seducer Brand, hand poured, pink worms rigged on sliding floats. Turns out Rusty Bell was the production manager for Seducer during that time frame and was largely responsible for their introduction to anadramous river anglers. His history and experience with this method genre would go back amost 20 years. Now THAT is old school. Even to me.

With a family history and roots sprawling deep into the Tillamook, Oregon area and the subsequent spider webs of high quality steelhead streams….Rusty has been able to create, over time, the best combination of steelhead plastics I’ve seen or fished to this day. With over ten color combinations ranging from radical patterns (such as his ‘Stepchild’ and ‘OP Nightmare’ models) and colors (chart/red, black/red/white) to the traditional line up of pinks, oranges and cersises…Rusty has developed what I like to refer to as “Next Generation Plastics”.

WFO’s product line doesn’t end with worms. He has morphed bass craw patterns into the bright and sometimes even neon color variations that are so prevelant in our steelhead river fisheries. Such as pink craws with chartreuse claws, nightmare patterned craws and even wiggly grub tails in eye-catching colors for big river plunking trailers custom ordered by some of his avid fan base.

Understanding how steelhead think, where they travel and how to effectively target them is a skill set unto it self. Transcending this knowledge from traditional drift and float baits to the more extreme offerings I’ve mentioned has truly opened the flood gates of success for even beginning and intermediate anglers many times over.

A good plastics offering allows an angler to tackle all types of water. Especially high or off colored water. Rusty is very clear when he describes his method of attack is never solely his plastics. He also routinely fishes jigs, beads, plastic eggs and sometimes even bait…although he’d rather stay away from bait when he can. It’s simply another tool is his expansive arsenal. Certainly one he is an expert at.

To experience some of Rusty’s baits (which includes complete salt and warm water offerings as well) go to his website today and order yourself a little care package to try out on your favorite river or stream. Methods include but are not limited to rigging his baits on jig heads, threading them onto a leader above a large octopus-style salmon/steelhead hook, as well as some stealthier tactics with smaller baits in lower more clear water conditions.

Rusty Bell is a proud sponsor of and can be found with a bent rod on a river near you. Most likely fishing with a local legend or two from his Alumaweld drifter. Rusty has guided professionally all over the PacNW including Alaska and he regularly visits the Olympic Peninsula where his famous “OP Nightmare” pattern was born.

  1. moe says:

    like chris rusty thank you for what you do you as well are a big part in the fishing community and we little guys couldnt do it without you so i say thank you and keep up the great job

  2. Hellcat says:

    Thanks for the support Moe!

  3. Rusty Bell at WFO has it figured out when it comes to effective plastics, whether it be cold water or warm water fish. Lots of knowledge and experience behind his color and design lineup.

  4. Rusty Bell says:

    Finally had time to sit down and read the article you wrote Christopher. What can I say, I am honored and proud. Thank you so much for the kind words and support. WFO will alway’s continue to offer the best in customer support. Our goal is to improve every day while offering products that are unique, but affective in all aspects of fishing. We truelly love what we do here at WFO. That alone makes what we do easy and fun.

    Let me know when you want to go for another drift, no promises that the launch will be any better.

  5. Hellcat says:

    Rusty! I’m so glad you dug the article. I am really excited to fish with you again my friend. You are an encyclopedia of knowledge and a very kind man to share so much with the rest of us!

  6. Curtis long says:

    Even tho I’m doing this as apart of the first comment contest, I really enjoyed this article. I love fishing the pink worms and will have to give WFO’s a try!

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