Today we’re taking a look back 46 years in order to get an idea of some of the products that manufacturers were offering anglers back in 1968. Going back like this lets you really see, and maybe even understand, what the angler of the past had to deal with and also gives you an idea exactly how nice we have it today. So here’s a brief look back in time.
Daiwa – Daiwa came out with the first skirted spool reel in the early 70s, and that engineering breakthrough was a game changer in spinning reel technology. Before that, all spinning reels, like the Daiwa reels shown in this ad, had spools that fit inside the spool housing. If you’re too young to remember reels like these, you’re lucky.
Line control on the spool was an absolute must due to the fact any loops and/or loose line on the spool would invariably make its way between the pipe-cleaner on the spool and the spool housing. Once this happened, the line would wrap around the spool shaft and you’d soon find yourself in a mess.
In any event, Daiwa’s ultralight freshwater 7250RL reel shown in the ad was featured with many state-of-the-art functions for the time. A quick release spool allowed the angler to change line fast or move to a different pound test with the push of a button. The reel also allowed the angler to switch from left- to right-hand retrieve with a coin. It also came with an aluminum spool, something that many manufacturers of the day did not offer. This was a major change on reel design as many manufacturers (such as ABU and Mitchell) of the time made their spools of hard plastic, which had a tendency to break if the line was packed too tight or dropped. Even with these features, Daiwa wouldn’t become a major entity in the U.S. market until their came out with the first skirted spool.
Burke – Known for their off-the-wall designs and soft hardbaits, Burke wouldn’t let anglers in 1968 down with at least one more crazy idea. That design was put forth in a worm called the chain worm. Constructed of the standard PVC plastic that all worm manufacturers use, which tears, Burke decided to design an indestructible plastic worm by stringing a chain through the bait, complete with rigged hooks. I’ve seen these worms and have had a chance to play with them and can understand why they didn’t become the next Creme worm.
The chain created a bait that had the action of a 2×4. You needed no weight with this gem as the chain and other metal paraphernalia made sure it got to the bottom fast. Once on lake floor, the entire worm laid there with exposed hooks to snag anything within and length of a hook gap. The worm was better suited as a plug knocker or even a snag to retrieve an overboard rod and reel.
As for the Top Dog flexible topwater, I’d bet a good amount of money that Burke was also manufacturing casting plugs. This design is obviously a painted casting plug with hooks, great for popping that kiddie pool you use to practice in or for snagging cats.
Creek Chub – You have baits that make you scratch your head and then you have baits that are proven fish catchers. Creek Chub was one of those companies that made lures that caught fish. One of the original U.S. plug manufacturers, their ad here from 1968 revealed a good number of their lineup. Of course there was the world record-holding Pikie Minnow in two sizes and the injured minnow prop bait. The other bait I’ve always had an infatuation with was the Ding Bat, probably because I was an All In The Family fan.
Another thing that gets my attention with the ad, though, isn’t the baits but where they were manufactured – Garrett, Indiana. This intrigues me because most of the lure manufacturers of the time – Heddon, Creme, Hildebrandt, etc – were manufactured in the Midwest. I’ve always wondered why the bulk of the manufacturers weren’t based out of the south, where anglers could catch bass year round. Maybe it was because the anglers of the north had cabin fever and in order to do something with respect to fishing, they designed lures? It’s just a guess.
DeLong Lures – Here’s another northern lure manufacturer – DeLong Lures of Cleveland, OH. From my research, DeLong was the second contemporary plastic worm manufacturer, second to Creme. What I like about this ad is they’re touting their new “smaller” 6-inch Junior Witch. It’s amazing to compare this small bait to what we call small these days.
Like the Burke Chain Worm above, the Witches came pre-rigged with two hooks. The DeLong Lures Company at least put weedless hooks on the bait in order to help prevent snags. Also, instead of using anchor chain as the connecting mechanism, they used 30-pound test Dacron line. They also incorporated the standard tire tread design of the day. I can’t make too much fun of DeLong, as I know of many fish caught on the bait and it was also a favorite of “Lunker” Bill Murphy. If they were good enough for him, that hold a lot of weight in my book.
Flip Tail – Of the three worm ads picked from 1968, this one, Flip Tail, is probably still the most recognized of them all – even after being out of production for around 20 years. Produced by Stembridge Products Inc., they are the lone U.S. manufacture in this string of ads that was NOT from the north. Flip Tail’s ads can be seen from the early 60s and by the late 60s and early 70s they weren’t just placing ads in magazines, writers were writing about the exploits of tournament anglers in the same magazines.
In this ad Flip Tail was advertising the fact that they offered both unrigged and rigged worms along with four different sizes from 6-inches up to 9 1/4-inches in length.
Heddon – Here’s one, if not the first, major manufacturer of bass lures, James Heddon’s Sons of Dowagiac, MI. Everyone knows of the Heddons and the impact they had on the bass world but how many know of this bait, the Tiger? I have to admit, I’d never heard of it before but with good cause. The lures were originally made from 1967 through 1971 and then again in 1980. If you’d like to read more about the bait, click here and here for a pretty thorough history of the lure.