There are two general forms of science or research, ‘basic’ and ‘applied’.
Basic science is what most people typically envision – laboratory discovery stuff, scientific method, pure curiosity with no immediate commercial application in mind. Then there is applied science, which frequently takes the findings from basic science and ‘applies’ them to solve practical problems of the modern world or starts out with that basic operating principle in mind.
The history of bass fishing has numerous examples of applied science used in an effort to create better bass lures, while hopefully generating nice profits for the company that created said product. I’ll be highlighting a few of these over the next several weeks, starting with an old favorite from around 1980 created by Mann’s Bait Co. In this example, create a lure that will allow an angler to trigger and catch more bass based on tank test observations.
The series was a line of crankbaits called the Hackleback. There were 2 sinking vibration baits, a deep diver and a crawdad look alike. The science theory espoused in the ad went like this:
Whenever a baitfish was put into a situation of being fed upon by a predator, it would raise its dorsal fin in a panic mode or escape response. According to Mann’s, when this happened, it almost inevitably led to an attack by a bass on that minnow. Mann’s created a line of crankbaits that had a raised dorsal fin permanently molded into the bait, thereby hopefully signaling to a hungry bass that that minnow was fleeing and thereby would draw a strike.
There were a couple other interesting features of the bait. One was that they had specific rates of fall for their two countdown models of 12 and 14 seconds, almost reminiscent of swimbait nomenclature nowadays, like the Huddleston ROF series of baits. The only problem was, the ad didn’t state just exactly what 12 and 14 seconds represented. Was it the distance to fall 1 foot? 1 yard? 10 feet? The other was Mann’s step into the world of photo-realistic color patterns on hard baits, a trend that had caught fire the previous couple years, and that had most bait companies “jumping on the bandwagon”.
To my knowledge, the only bait in this lineup that survived was the crawdad. It was actually a favorite of mine at the time, and I still have 1 or 2 left in the old tackle box. It was responsible for the first largemouth that I ever caught intentionally using “pro” tactics on a major reservoir where I first learned to bass fish, so it has a fond place in my heart.
Nowadays, you still see all sorts of fins and fin re-creations on today’s swimbaits, but it’s more for realism and less for any perceived weakness on the part of a helpless prey item. This Mann’s line of baits was a perfect example of applied science that unfortunately never played out that well in real life.