Grip Lip – Yep a Gimmick

Cordell Grip Lip from 1977. Being that it wasn't around past 1980 shows it not only failed to grip the fish, it failed to grip the angler.

Cordell Grip Lip from 1977. Being that it wasn’t around past 1980 shows it not only failed to grip the fish, it failed to grip the angler.

While scanning through a set of 1977 Bassmaster Magazines doing research for the series, Season at a Glance: 1977 Bassmaster Trail, I came across an article on a new gadget at the time, the Cordell Grip Lip. I’m not sure how many of you out there remember this nifty little invention but I sure do. In fact, I was so impressed with the article in the July/August issue of Bassmaster I bought a couple packs of the Velcro fish magnets when they finally showed up at the local tackle store one pack for worms the other a pack for hardbaits.

I was so sure that this would be the cure-all to my missed worm fish and maybe even put a few more topwater fish in the well for me. Oh to be a gullible 13 year old.

I wasn’t the only one gullible, though. Shortly after I obtained my supply of Grip Lips I went over to my best friend’s house to hang out, make lures and talk fishing and girls – maybe not in that order. I noticed on his work bench he must have had 20 packs of the stuff laid out and probably the same amount of crankbaits, worms, spinnerbaits…..heck, he had his entire tacklebox emptied on the bench. There were crankbaits that looked like they had mohawks, spinnerbait blades that you couldn’t tell if they were copper, chrome or hammered – name a bait, it had Grip Lip on it.

That weekend I found myself fishing, as usual, on one of the local SoCal lakes – excited that’d I’d be catching more fish than usual. I don’t remember how that day went but I can tell you that over the course of about six months my catch rate didn’t change. In fact, if anything, it went down.

After the first few trips with no noticeable positive effect, I started noticing that the Grip Lip used on worms would hold little twigs and would also get hung a lot easier than a worm without the collar. It also tore up more worms – and when my only income for fishing tackle was the $1.25/day my mom gave me for lunch, worm conservation was a big deal.

I also noticed that when it was placed on hardbaits it covered the finish. Why buy a lifelike Bagley’s Small Fry, put Velcro on it and ruin the lifelike finish? I started losing confidence in the material and quickly eliminated it from my box.

It was a great concept and one put out by one of the biggest tackle manufacturers of the time. Bassmaster not only carried ads for the material, they dedicated an entire piece in their column New Gear & Gadgets for Bass Boaters/Anglers for it. It’s not their fault that the material didn’t work, I’d blame that mostly on the manufacturer for not testing it thoroughly before making claims it would increase your catches.

It was obvious the material didn’t work as advertised since it lasted for only a couple years. But reading the article you got the feeling it was the end-all to a lot of missed fish. As usual, the fish weighed in and the Grip Lip got dropped.

  • Pete Robbins

    From the files of “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”:

    A decade or so later Culprit came out with a similar “revolutionary” development, strips of hook & loop material added to their worms. You don’t even need to set the hook, just lead ’em to the boat.

  • RichZ

    I never fell for the grip-lip, because i’d had lousy experiences with wet velcro. But what did bring back a fond memory was the spinnerbait in that ad photo. Sans the grip lip (Who took the time to put it on the stands of rubber in a spinnerbait skirt for that photo?) the Cordell Buck Spin was my go-to spinnnerbait for a few years. And why not? It wasn’t named the Buck Spin because it was for catching buck bass, but because it sold for a buck! Caught my first 5# smallie on one!

    • Rich, I was thinking the same thing but I think what they did there was make the actual skirt out of the material. I also liked that spinnerbait. Inexpensive but caught the heck out of fish – especially at Lakewood Country Club. 🙂 Between that and the Tarantula those were my go-to blades.

      Pete, that there is some good stuff. 🙂