Let’s Look Back – Part Seven

I lived right on the shore of Western Washigton's best bass lake for many years.  The Heddon Basser took more than its share of the thousands of bass I caught during the time I lived there. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I lived right on the shore of Western Washigton’s best bass lake for many years. The Heddon Basser took more than its share of the thousands of bass I caught during the time I lived there. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.

And brother, if you don’t really believe that familiar bit of wisdom you haven’t been watching what’s happened in the field of bass fishing lures over the past half century.  Furthermore, if you’re an old timer like me there are instances where you just can’t understand why some of those unwelcome changes ever took place.

It was one of those lure changes that brought me together with a wonderful guy who was eventually to become one of my best friends.  That man was Homer Circle.  Anybody who knows beans about the bass fishing world knows who Homer was.  Among other things, he nailed down almost every award a writer in the outdoor world can get.

I wound up traveling over a good bit of the world with Homer as a companion.  We fished from a bay in Colombia, South America to the Amazon in Brazil and from, New York State to the Pacific Northwest in our many years of fishing and writing about it.

But Homer and I made our first connection before he eventually got into big time writing.  When our trails first crossed he was working for the Heddon Tackle Company out of Dowagiac, Michigan.  I expect Homer had a variety of jobs he handled in those early days at Heddon, but one of them was as the company’s public relations director.

Homer and I made those connections early on because I was one of the few writers in the Pacific Northwest doing much writing about bass fishing.  Homer kept me posted as to what Heddon was doing with regard to the bass lures his much respected company produced.

As is obvious, this beautiful old Heddon Basser has been through the bass fishing wars.  I caught a heap of largemouth on this lure before it was pulled off the market. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

As is obvious, this beautiful old Heddon Basser has been through the bass fishing wars. I caught a heap of largemouth on this lure before it was pulled off the market. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

But it was one of the things Heddon wasn’t doing, or perhaps I should say quit doing, that sparked some of the most interesting times in our exchange of thoughts.  Heddon, you see, quit making one of what I regarded as its very best bass lures.  I had caught more bass on this specific lure than any other floating/diving lure I had in my tackle box.

That lure was the old Heddon Basser.  Ever heard of it?  Chances are if you’re relatively new to this business of bass fishing you haven’t.  I don’t recall exactly what year Heddon quit making the Basser.  I do know it was while Homer was still with Heddon and well before he took over as the fishing editor of Sports Afield magazine.
It was when I’d tried to purchase a couple of new Bassers way back before the turn of the century that the dealer I tried to buy them from said they were no longer being made.  I couldn’t believe it!  Why in the world would a respected and successful producer of bass lures suddenly quit making, in my opinion, one of its very best products?

Just as soon as I could I sat down at my old Underwood #5 manual typewriter (something else I regarded as the very best at that time) and fired off a letter to Homer.  I don’t have a copy of that letter but I’m certain I made it plain that to my way of thinking Heddon’s dropping the Basser had been about as dim witted as it could get.

I remember Homer’s reply never did really clear things up for me.  He said the primary reason was a lack of sales in that particular lure.  He told me it appeared that bass anglers in my part of the country, at that time the Pacific Northwest, were the only ones who seemed to have really learned how to use it.

That was a tad difficult to swallow because at that time bass fishing wasn’t that big out there in the tall tree country.  Many was the time I was criticized for doing too much writing about bass when there were all those salmon, steelhead and trout to be had.

Here's a side view of the Heddon Basser.  Note the glass eyes that came on the original models of this wonderful old lure. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Here’s a side view of the Heddon Basser. Note the glass eyes that came on the original models of this wonderful old lure. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It still puzzles me today when I look at the current lineup of Heddon Lures and see the old Lucky13 is still there but no sign of that old beauty—the Heddon Basser.  I’ve caught at least 10 bass on the Basser for every one I’ve caught on the Lucky 13.  The close friends I’ve shown how to operate the Basser have done the same thing.  It’s true, of course, that once I learned what the Basser could do on the waters I fished most I admittedly wound up fishing the Basser much more often than the Lucky 13.

There were a number of things that were a major factor in bringing this about.  One I’ve already touched on was the necessity of knowing exactly how to present the lure to get the bass to smack it.

A second factor was matching color-wise the primary forage fish in the lakes where most of my bass were being caught.  Keep an eye out for my next column.  I’ll share more of those details on what those factors were here at Let’s Look Back.