Wigglers and Dancers – Fred Arbogast

A 1946 Arbogast ad featuring the new Hula Dancer.

A 1946 Arbogast ad featuring the new Hula Dancer.

It isn’t well known, unless you’re a vintage tackle collector, that it was Fred Arbogast who invented the flat rubber skirt. If you read Part One of the book review, Black Bass Fishing by Robert Page Lincoln, Lincoln reports in Chapter Seven that he tied up a bass fly with rubber band legs that, when on a trip with the Arbogasts, Fred grew especially keen with the rubber leg idea. The year of this trip isn’t mentioned but Lincoln wrote that that winter Fred Arbogast took the idea back to Ohio and fashioned what we know today as the flat rubber skirt. [Read more…]

Early Days of the Empire

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

We’ve spent a bit of time looking back at some of the first ads from Bass Pro Shops, with the majority of those items being dated from the mid- to late-1970s. Today, we have another old Bass Pro ad to share with you, this one from 1982, just a few years later than those earliest ones. This was a 2-page ad that appeared in Field & Stream magazine, but one I find rather interesting from several different perspectives – not the least of which is the headline to start the ad off, “We’re out to get your fishing tackle business.” Oh, how telling, but that’s just the beginning. [Read more…]

Christmas Gifts 1976/7 – Tackle Boxes

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas Ad.

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas Ad.

In keeping with the Holiday spirit, here are a couple of ads from 1976 and 1977 regarding tackle boxes. The first ad, again from a 1976 Western Bass Magazine, is from a Bass Pro spread in the winter issue. The ad features two BPS tackle boxes and a Plano 777.

I don’t know if you remember the old BPS boxes but they weren’t the best quality made. The boxes like the Lunker Lunch Box – made of yellow ABS plastic – tended to warp in the hot sun and would fail to stay closed after a while.

The Bass’n Buddy Crank/Spinnerbait box was a copy of the old Flambeau 2275 Crank/Spinnerbait box that was a mainstay of the day. It was a great design for both blades and cranks but seems to have been thrown aside for the 3700-style boxes we see today. [Read more…]

Christmas Gifts 1976 – Fenwick Lunkerstiks

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas ad for Fenwick Lunkerstiks.

1976 Bass Pro Shops Christmas ad for Fenwick Lunkerstiks.

Last year we ran a segment over the Christmas break that a lot of people seemed to enjoy. It was comprised of old Christmas ads from some of the magazines we have, namely from the 2-year-old Bass Pro Shops. Well, we still have a few of those BPS ads along with a couple others that we’ll share over the next few days.

Today we look at one of the items Johnny Morris had for sale during the 1976 Christmas holiday – Fenwick Lunkerstik 1400s. Graphite rods were well on their way to becoming the staple for all fishing and it seems that Morris may have bought all the glass Lunkerstiks that Fenwick had in stock. If you read the ad, you’ll see that he’s selling these glass rods, the best glass bass rods at the time, for under $19. [Read more…]

Getting Right to the Point

A better mousetrap?

A better mousetrap?

It’s one of the most common tips given to bass anglers – always sharpen your hooks – or at least it used to be. Now days, we have things like needle point, chemically sharpened, specially tempered, cutting edge, etc., etc., type hooks. Maybe it’s not so critical now, but chances are, most every bass boat you enter has a small file sitting around somewhere to put that razor sharp edge back on your bait. But in the name of technology, there is always a better way to do things; or at least the manufacturers want you to think so. Let’s look at one such “better mousetrap” from the angling accessories file today. [Read more…]

Bagley’s Bait Company – 1977

1977 Bagley's Ad taken from American Angler Magazine.

1977 Bagley’s Ad taken from American Angler Magazine.

We’ve written a couple pieces on the Jim Bagley Bait Company over the course of the last couple years (you can see two of them here and here), but I personally never get tired of looking at their ads from days past. Recently I was scouring all my 1977 magazines for another piece and noticed after a while, how many ads Bagley had placed in the various magazines of the time and decided to scan them all.

The year 1977 was a banner year for the company due to the fact that Rick Clunn had just won back-to-back Bassmaster Classic and caught some of his fish in each event on Bagley’s baits. This seems to have done a couple of things – namely provide a bunch of sales for the company which, in turn, allowed them to step up their ad campaign in order to sell more. [Read more…]

The Earliest B.A.S.S. Ads

BASS early membership print ad. Fishing Facts, Sept. & Oct., 1969.

BASS early membership print ad. Fishing Facts, Sept. & Oct., 1969.

This post falls in line with the recent early B.A.S.S. stories and interviews that have been posted to the site. As you know, the idea for B.A.S.S. was hatched in 1967, and the organization was officially formed and incorporated in 1968. But like every other group starting out, B.A.S.S. had to initially advertise to try and generate interest and membership, frequently in the more popular sporting magazines already out on the market. The ad pictured in this post is likely one of the earliest in print, dating back to September and October of 1969. It appeared in the pages of Fishing Facts magazine, which at the time had been around for nearly 5 years and was seeing rapid growth in the Midwest markets.

There are several things of note with this early ad for the organization. [Read more…]

Hey, Hey, Hey! The Fat Alberts of Bass Fishing

Bill Cosby's 1972 character, Fat Albert

Bill Cosby’s 1972 character, Fat Albert

Most everyone growing up in the 70s and early 80s knew who Fat Albert was. Chances are, like me, you probably even watched the Saturday morning cartoon show featuring Fat Albert and his friends, which debuted in 1972. The character was created by Bill Cosby and was originally part of his standup routine going back to 1967. But there have also been a few lures that carried the name. [Read more…]

Mar-Lynn Lures

Mar-Lynn Lure Company ad from 1976.

Mar-Lynn Lure Company ad from 1976.

We’ve talked about a lot of old tackle companies here at the Bass Fishing Archives but one we’ve neglected to mention so far is the Mar-Lynn Lure Company of Blue Springs, MO. Mar-Lynn made everything from spinnerbaits to jigs, plastic worms to jig heads and more. But what they are probably best known for is the Reaper – a soft plastic lure that had a large tail fin that resembled an eel.

From my understanding, the bait was made specifically for use on a jig head for lake trout. But it didn’t take bass anglers long to figure out it wasn’t just trout bait.

Rigged with the tail vertical, the bait would sink fairly fast and resembled a baitfish quite nicely. On the other hand, if the bait was rigged so the tail was horizontal, the bait would glide and could be mistaken for an eel. [Read more…]

1973 Bill Norman Baits

Fishing Facts, June 1973 Northwoods tackle advertisement

Fishing Facts, June 1973 Northwoods tackle advertisement

Bill Norman Lures is one of the most recognized names in the fishing industry. We’ve touched upon the company and some of their baits in previous posts about their Redman Spinnerbait , as well as a 1977 ad featuring some of their classic diving crankbaits from the Little N series. In today’s post, we’re going to go back a few more years to 1973, and look at a few of their other baits, as well as a sister company that produced some popular baits at the time.

This Northwoods ad, featured in a 1973 issue of Fishing Facts magazine, covered several popular Norman lures. [Read more…]

For Mann’s, Plenty of Hits But a Few (More) Misses, Too

Mann's Bait Company ad circa 1983.

Mann’s Bait Company ad circa 1983.

A major league baseball player who gets a hit in three out of every ten at bats has a reasonable chance of going to the Hall of Fame. In that regard, maybe we’re too hard on lure designers. Here on Bass Fishing Archives, we might be a little too tough on those who’ve produced short-lived products. In just a few years of existence we’ve cataloged a litany of products that didn’t catch on, generally because they were ill-conceived or didn’t meet a specific need. Frankly, it’s a sport that never grows old, and for which we’ll likely never run out of material. [Read more…]

Success is Coupled with Many Failures

Tom Mann's Hardworm, circa 1984.

Tom Mann’s Hardworm, circa 1984.

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That quote means a lot coming from a man who many consider one of the fathers of the industrial revolution.

In the course of fishing tackle history, there have been hundreds if not thousands of bait makers who have burned out like meteors. There are also a few names that survive as legends of the sport. James Heddon, Bill Norman, Bill Lewis, Charles Spence to name a few. In that list of legendary bait makers is an Alabama man named Tom Mann. [Read more…]