Early “Slow Rolling” – Earlier Than You Thought?

A 1-oz. Go-Devil spinnerbait

A 1-oz. Go-Devil spinnerbait

Spinnerbaits have been one of the most popular lures among bass anglers ever since they first came out. Many noted anglers could claim to have made their professional reputations by using the lures, guys such as Jimmy Houston, Ricky Green, and Hank Parker. Many others have thrown them to win events throughout the history of tournament angling.

Beyond your typical average spinnerbait, one of the first big “revolutions” occurred in the 1980s with the sudden rise in popularity of the willow leaf blade. Previous to that, most spinnerbaits sold were equipped either with Colorado blades, or less commonly Indiana blades. Willow blades were touted for their effectiveness around grass, and it wasn’t too long before some companies figured out you could make a very heavy spinnerbait combined with the decreased lift of the willow-style blade, and the technique of “slow rolling” was soon winning tournaments across the country. However, all this happened more than 20 years after another small company had created and sold a line of spinnerbaits specifically for covering the depths.

Chances are you’ve probably never heard of Saunders Tackle Company of Arlington Heights, Illinois, nor have you likely heard of the “Go-Devil.” However, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the creator of the Go-Devil, Vic Saunders, was promoting an entire spinnerbait line-up specifically geared toward plumbing the depths of any lake. Vic was one of the original Chicago Spoonpluggers, trained by Buck Perry and other early adoptees from the area. Early Fishing News magazines commonly referred to him as “The Go-Devil Man.” Instead of having a lineup of various sized Spoonplugs or crankbaits to cover every depth, Vic made a series of spinnerbaits designed for the same basic purpose. The bait in the picture from my tackle room is a 1-oz. version of the Go-Devil created long before baits such as the Ledgebuster and other like spinnerbaits would hit the market.

The Go-Devil could be cast or trolled, and due to the variety of weights in the baits lineup, no depth of water was considered unfishable. Baits like the 1-oz version could easily be cast and slow rolled (or just as frequently slow trolled) across the bottom in 20-30 feet of water or more. Shallower water simply required a lighter version of the same bait – an entire “system” for methodically slow rolling the bottom of lakes for lunkers. Their snagless nature let them be used beyond the weedlines, dragging across submerged timber and large rockpiles, back in the day when structure fishing was first getting its feet. Early stories told of countless bass, walleye and pike that succumbed to the bait and tactic. While primitive by today’s standards, it just goes to exemplify that today’s “hot” technique is, in nearly all cases, something already thought of, created and long forgotten, just with the latest material, marketing and technology advantages.