Vibration baits have been around since the 50s with baits like the Whopper Stopper Bayou Boogie, the Cordel Spot and even the Heddon Sonar and Super Sonics. All these lures had a good following but it wasn’t until Bill Lewis came on the scene in the late 60s and early 70s that vibration baits really came to the forefront of the angling world. His invention? Well he took a standard vibration bait, put a bunch of BBs in it and named it after his truck – the Rattle Trap.
What Lewis did was take a good bait style and improved on it tenfold. But it didn’t take hold immediately. The first recollection of his success didn’t even come from his own boat. Rumor has it that Bill Lewis and a friend were fishing Toledo Bend reservoir one day in the late 60s and came upon a group of anglers watching another pair of anglers wax the fish. It was a tough day where Bill and his buddy hadn’t caught a fish when they happened upon the excitement.
Lewis recognized the anglers whacking the fish, called out to them asking what they were using and their reply was, “That silly lookin’ rattling bait.” Lewis had only used it for a “few minutes” that day without any success.
Since then, though, the Rat-L-Trap has not only become a household name the entire genre of vibration baits has been renamed “Traps.” Even if one is throwing a high-dollar Japanese vibration bait, most anglers would say they were throwing a Trap. He’s even credited with other manufacturers putting rattles in their standard crankbaits.
Every manufacturer of hardbaits today offers a noisy lipless crankbait in their arsenal and we have Bill Lewis to thank for that. In fact, within the last 15 years many manufacturers have been experimenting with different rattle materials such as tungsten, lead, copper, glass and mixes of all in the baits we buy today. Each one giving off a different sound. The different materials also allow for small baits to be heavier or large baits to be lighter.
The advertisement shown in this piece is from 1977 and by the looks of the wording, there were still a number of anglers out there who had never seen or heard of the Rat-L-Trap. It wasn’t long after this, though, that the bait became a must-have in every angler’s tacklebox if they wanted to be competitive on the tournament trails.
Thanks Bill Lewis for changing the world of vibration baits.