Editor’s Note: I’d like to thank Stan Fagerstrom for allowing me to photograph some of his old tackle used in this article.
For those of you out there who are certified worm freaks, here’s a blast from the past with respect to some worm-fishing history. Although Nick and Cosma Creme are rightfully credited with being the first people to develop what is known as the contemporary plastic worm (made out of PVC plastic), DeLong Lures actually started before (1946) the Cremes went into business in 1949.
Even though DeLong’s first worms were made of much harder rubber, it didn’t take DeLong much time to realize that Creme’s plastic formulation was better. By the 50s, the plastic worm industry was essentially a two-horse race but anglers far and wide discounted the petroleum-based wigglers as a novelty item.
Early plastics were generally rigged at the factory with multiple hooks poured into the plastic or rubber during the manufacturing process – and left exposed. By the early-60s, though, manufacturers started pouring plastics without hooks – leaving the rigging to the angler. This is when the industry and the use of plastic worms really took off.
In the early 60s, one savvy angler in Texas named Dave Hawk took the new unrigged worms and threaded a sproat hook into the worm in a way that made it weedless and also placed a sliding sinker on the line to add weight. Hawk called it the “Slip Sinker Worm” later to be named the Texas Rig for where it originated.
Two-time World Series of Freshwater Fishing Champion Glen Andrews used the “Slip Sinker Worm” to win the ’65 World Series and began promoting the rig and technique. It was also Andrews who taught Bill Dance how to use the “Slip Sinker Worm” right before the first All-American Invitational in 1967 on Beaver Lake. Dance placed second in what would become the inaugural Bassmaster event – all on the new worm rig.
These early events sparked a tremendous growth in the plastic worm industry. Companies like Lindy, Mann’s, Flip Tail, and the Andrews Lure Company started popping up all over selling their version of the plastic worm. By the late 60s and early 70s, companies like Bagley, Cordell and others noted for their hard baits added soft plastics to their lines.
In the early days companies were essentially national entities who sold baits made of single colors and only a few sizes. Now it seems you can’t swing a 6-inch Trick worm anywhere without hitting a new soft plastic company. Around each major body of water numerous small worm companies exist that sell a myriad of sizes, styles and colors – many of which are “custom made” for a certain body of water.
Anyway, we hope you enjoyed this trip back in time when plastic worms were much simpler.