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Yes, Virginia, there is a book . . .

At first I thought it was a joke.

The letter, titled "The Deadly Plastic Worm," was from the author of book called How to Rig Plastic Worms _ "The only booklet of its kind with 52 pages showing 70 different ways to rig plastic worms and grubs."

Astonishing, I thought.

But I was hooked. Not so much by a keen desire to learn how to rig a plastic worm, but how anyone could fill 52 pages describing how to do so.

So I called the author, Vlad Evanoff, at his South Florida home. It turns out Evanoff is a renowned author of several fishing books and that, in fact, this new edition of How to Rig Plastic Worms is a revised and updated version of the original 1988 publishing.

So Vlad, what about those 52 pages?

"A lot of people ask that," said Evanoff, who also wrote One Thousand and One Fishing Tips and Tricks and the Fisherman's Freshwater Bible, which he said has sold more than 400,000 copies.

"Most people only know a few ways to rig plastic worms and don't realize there are so many different ways. It's taken me many years of trial and error to learn how to rig. There are many different ways to rig as fishing conditions change, and this book explains how."

And, as Evanoff's letter points out, the small booklet was designed to fit in a tackle box. Evanoff's letter also included this P.S.: "Plastic worms are used by most Florida anglers."

So I set off for Nicks Park in Port Richey on Friday to find out. And sure enough, two of three anglers I spoke to use plastic worms. Sometimes.

"I usually use (live bait) shiners because they catch big fish," said Matthew Welebob of Port Richey. Welebob showed me four big trout in his cooler as evidence.

"More fish will hit rubber worms but they are not quality. Anything, including the little bitty fish, will hit them, and I don't want little fish."

Mack McCrea of Allentown, Pa., occasionally uses plastic worms but live shrimp was his choice as he prepared for a day on the Gulf Friday. He had not heard of Evanoff's book.

"I'm sure it's helpful," McCrea.

But would he buy it?


Well, this is what McCrea would be missing. (Yes, I did read the entire 52 pages, complete with illustrations, with the aid of a couple of large coffees.)

Plastic worms can be rigged Texas style or Carolina style. Appropriately, Texas-style rigs involve a bullet-head weight. Carolina-style involves an egg sinker. Please don't ask me to explain.

A bearing barrel swivel can make a plastic worm twirl or revolve in an "attractive manner."

To give your plastic worm a vibrating sound (I swear I'm not making this up), add a Rattlelure.

You can "dress" a worm with bucktail, feathers or rubber skirt.

You can carry plastic worms in different colors and find out what the fish want.

And, there are many kinds of plastic lizards and plastic frogs, foot-long snake-worms and worms that come in different flavors or scents.

Said Evanoff: "This book is especially valuable to beginners who don't really know how to rig their lines. And for the veteran angler, they might even learn some new tricks."

Welebob, whose four trout demonstrate he's a veteran, said he had never heard of Evanoff's book.

"Really, a book on how to use plastic worms?" a bemused Welebob said.

My sentiments exactly.

How to Rig Plastic Worms can be ordered post paid for $5 from: CATCHMORE, Box 770036, Coral Springs, Fla., 33077.