Here’s an interesting look back at one of the all-time great hardbait manufacturers, the Jim Bagley Bait Company. The ads shown here are from 1973, ’76, ’77 and ‘80 and show a pretty good number of the baits they sold during that decade. Missing, of course, is the Bang O Lure and a couple other baits but the important ones are there.
Bagley’s first big claim-to-fame came with their original Balsa B, or Big B as seen in the ad from 1973. The bait was 4-inches long, sported a square bill and excelled in areas where anglers would normally throw a spinnerbait.
Unfortunately, the Big B went out of production when the deep-diving baits of the late 70s and early 80s took hold and the Divin’ B series came out.
The Divin’ B series, though, was a magical series of baits with the DB2 and DB3 models outshining the smaller DB1 – that is until Bagleys sold in the mid-80s and the new owners decided to go “unleaded” towards the end of the decade. For those of you that remember, the original series had a small lead weight in the lip that the line tie was molded in to. There was something about that little bit of weight that added to the action of the bait, made it easy to tune and might have added a little more depth. The new series didn’t have the lead in the lip and the line tie was made of stainless steel rather than brass, which made it rather difficult to tune. Not only that, their fish-catching ability took a nose dive.
Another stellar bait that Bagley’s produced during the time was the Honey B – in both deep and shallow running models. This little 1-1/2-inch jewel was a fish magnet, bar none. Thrown on 8-pound line and in tough conditions, the fish seemed like they couldn’t resist it. I know for me it saved many a day on the water. But, like the Big B and original Divin’ Bs before it, the Honey B was phased out in the 90s – at least I couldn’t find anyone who sold them.
Then we go to the Small Fry series, which we’ve touched on here at the Bass Fishing Archives in the past. Although the concept was good, the baits didn’t find much success. At the shop I worked in as a kid, they initially flew off the shelves and after a year or so, the only one that needed restocking was the crawdad bait. Other than that, the rest of the series had many birthdays hanging on their pegs.
A few years ago it seemed as if the Bagley’s name was going to go the way of the Dodo bird. Then in 2007 the company was purchased (again) and brought back to life. Unfortunately, the change of ownership didn’t help and the company again saw tough times.
Then in the 2010-11 time frame, Bill Cullerton and Jarmo Rapala, of Rapala Lure fame, bought the company and began to resurrect it. Their promise: To bring the company back to what it once was and remake the lures the way they were designed by Jim Bagley.
I haven’t yet had a chance to use any of the new Bagley baits, I’m still throwing the originals, but you can bet I’ll be trying some in the near future. I just hope they fish the same as the originals. It’d be nice to have this nostalgic bait back in the ring after so many years on the sidelines.
Here’s a link to a video the new owners have produced to introduce themselves.