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.
Over the course of his life Mann created baits that not only sold well, they worked. The Jelly Worm, for example works as well today as it did 40 years ago. The Little George to this day still catches fish in any portion of the water column. The Mann’s 1-Minus took crankbaits to an all-new level and still has a following 30 years after its introduction.
Essentially what it boils down to is whatever Tom Mann dreamed up, worked.
But as the title of this story alludes, this piece isn’t about one of his successes – it’s about one of his few failures. The Hardworm.
From the ad, Mann said, “My ultimate lure….looks like a worm….fishes like a hardbait…” Really Mr. Mann, your ultimate lure?
Really it’s kind of funny to think about in a number of ways. One, the bait really does resemble a jerkbait – minus the jointed tail. So, thinking in those terms, it should have sold and worked on that principle alone. But I think the failure of this bait had to do with people not being able to see outside the box. For crying out loud, it was a hard Mann’s Jelly Worm, egg sack and all. Where does the worm hook and bullet weight go?
I have to be honest with you, I bought one and it ended up with my Helicopter lures and Heddon Budweiser Can baits. I never took it out of the package and laughed when I bought it. But now looking at it from a different set of eyes, I wonder if the thing would catch fish? I bet it would.