Lets’ Look Back: A friend Named Bill – Part 2

I hope some of my favorite Bill Norman lures don't eventually get dropped now that the company has been sold.  I'm still using some of Norman's early baits to put bass in the boat.

I hope some of my favorite Bill Norman lures don’t eventually get dropped now that the company has been sold. I’m still using some of Norman’s early baits to put bass in the boat.

The more things change the more they become the same.

Odds are you’d heard that comment before. I agree that it’s sometimes true but by golly don’t expect it to happen the day after tomorrow. Sometimes it takes awhile.

If you read my last column you know I told about my long time friendship with Bill Norman, the founder of Norman Lures.

If you did read that column, you’re aware I told about Norman having started his own lure company back in the 1960s. Not long afterwards he quit doing things on his own and went to work for another Arkansas bait making company named the Plastics Research and Develop Company.

Bill never did get around to telling me exactly what transpired in his brief association with the PRADCO organization. It figures it wasn’t all that great because Bill began working with PRADCO in November of 1964 and was terminated a year later in November of 1965.

As I mentioned in my previous column, all couldn’t have been happy with Norman’s departure from PRADCO. From what I’ve seen in the history of Norman Lures is that there were some legal matters associated with Bill’s departure. One of the court’s directives that resulted was one that evidently prevented Norman from using his own name on the lures he was to produce in his own new company after leaving PRADCO.

I certainly don’t have all the details and as I’ve said Norman didn’t share them with me. I liked certain of the lures he came up with and their not being named bothered me a bit. I’ll always remember what Bill had to say when I asked him why the heck he didn’t put his name on the lures he was selling.

We were sharing a bass boat on Lake Ouachita down in Arkansas when I asked that question. “Bill,” I said, “I’ve always wondered why the heck you don’t put your name on your baits. I find myself asking that same question darn near every time I get to checking on what you might have brought to market that I’ve not seen.”

“Stan,” Bill responded, “I don’t worry much about that. If I come up with baits that will catch bass, fishermen are going to find ‘em. You can’t keep them from it.”

I was never all that sure my friend Bill really meant that. I hadn’t heard anything about his previous legal entanglements with PRADCO at the time. However, it appears Bill knew what he was talking about.

Bill Norman is just one of a whole bunch of lure makers I got to know while they were still independent manufacturers.  The business of lure making has changed so much over the past century.

Bill Norman is just one of a whole bunch of lure makers I got to know while they were still independent manufacturers. The business of lure making has changed so much over the past century.

I say that because some of the lures he came up with, lures like the Little N, the Deep Little N as well as the DD22 and others have put a whole bunch of bass in the boat. There are other Norman-made lures that also worked equally well in the hands of someone who knew how to use them.

Like I said in the beginning, the more things change the more they become the same. Bill Norman passed away some years ago. He never did join back up with PRADCO himself. I mention this again because as you’ve probably heard by now the present owners of Norman Lures recently sold the company to PRADCO.

PRADCO, as you’re probably aware, has over the years taken over a raft of once-independent bass building businesses than had been running their own show. I’m thinking of lure makers like Heddon, Arbogast, Rebel, Cordell, Bandit, Bomber and a number of others.

Norman Lures was one of the few independent bait makers still active in the United States. I’ve got some good friends in the PRADCO organization myself but darned if I don’t miss the association I used to have with many of the individuals who actually started and ran some of those once independent companies I’ve named.

The PRADCO folks have announced that they will continue to offer for sale the most popular lures in the Norman line. Maybe it has already happened but I catch myself wondering if Bill Norman’s name will now finally start showing up on the legendary lures he developed.

However, don’t be all that surprised if some of the fish catchers that have been in the Norman Line for years now disappear as the years go by. That has certainly happened with some of the products of other lure companies that PRADCO has taken over.

Certain of those baits the independent lure makers once marketed but can no longer be found since PRADCO took over were darn good bass baits. I’ve still managed to hang onto a couple of most of them. There are a couple I won’t even throw anymore because I know I’d have one heck of a time getting replacements if I lost ‘em.

I can’t resist telling one more thought Bill Norman shared with me regarding one of his lures. It was the Triple Wing Buzzbait. I caught some dandy bass on that surface bait. What concerned me was missed strikes of some really good fish that just knocked the hell out of it right at daylight.

When I told Bill about it he immediately asked me how I was rigging the lure. I told him I’d been using a 3-inch grub as a trailer. Bill had an immediate suggestion.

“Stan,” he said, “start using a 5-inch grub as a trailer. I think you’ll be surprised at the difference it might make.”

Though I wasn’t at all convinced he was right, I did go ahead and start doing what he had suggested. But he was right! I still sometimes missed fish that smacked Bill’s buzzer but not nearly as often as I had before I made the trailer change.

That’s just one of a creel full of good memories I have of my late friend Bill Norman. There are many more. And I continue to hope that in the future some of the really good bass baits this fine man brought to us are always going to have his name on ‘em.

Pic 1…I hope some of my favorite Bill Norman lures don’t eventually get dropped now that the company has been sold. I’m still using some of Norman’s early
baits to put bass in the boat.

Pic 2…Bill Norman is just one of a whole bunch of lure makers I got to know while they were still independent dealers. The business of lure making has changed so much over the past century.