Lets’ Look Back: A friend Named Bill – Part 2

I hope some of my favorite Bill Norman lures don't eventually get dropped now that the company has been sold.  I'm still using some of Norman's early baits to put bass in the boat.

I hope some of my favorite Bill Norman lures don’t eventually get dropped now that the company has been sold. I’m still using some of Norman’s early baits to put bass in the boat.

The more things change the more they become the same.

Odds are you’d heard that comment before. I agree that it’s sometimes true but by golly don’t expect it to happen the day after tomorrow. Sometimes it takes awhile.

If you read my last column you know I told about my long time friendship with Bill Norman, the founder of Norman Lures.

If you did read that column, you’re aware I told about Norman having started his own lure company back in the 1960s. Not long afterwards he quit doing things on his own and went to work for another Arkansas bait making company named the Plastics Research and Develop Company. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: A Friend Named Bill – Part 1

Having Bill Norman for a friend meant a great deal to me.  If this picture doesn't show a couple of guys having fun, I don't know what would. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Having Bill Norman for a friend meant a great deal to me. If this picture doesn’t show a couple of guys having fun, I don’t know what would. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s Note: The recent sale of Norman Lures to the PRADCO organization hadn’t yet been announced when Stan wrote the following column. The sale was announced in late November. Stan will bring things that the late Bill Norman started up to date in his Let’s Look Back column for January, 2016.]

Whenever we take time to look back over the high spots along the trail we’ve followed, we’re certain to remember especially well some of the special events that have transpired.

If certain of those events happened to involve special friends, they’re even more certain to be up close to the top of your tackle box of memories. One of mine took place eight years ago in Birmingham, Alabama.

The annual Bassmasters Classic back in 2007 was headquartered in Birmingham. There will be those reading this who undoubtedly were there. I was there too, but it was another event held in concert with the Classic that brought me. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Tackle Industry Friends Part 2

When I found lures that would catch fish for me it was great to be able to share a boat with the guy who was bringing those baits to the tackle shelves.  The late Bill Norman was a friend of mine.  I learned a good bit about his baits on the fishing trips I made with him. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

When I found lures that would catch fish for me it was great to be able to share a boat with the guy who was bringing those baits to the tackle shelves. The late Bill Norman was a friend of mine. I learned a good bit about his baits on the fishing trips I made with him. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I miss those days. If you’ve been around as long as I have, I expect you do too.

What days am I talking about? I miss those days when if you had a question about a specific item of fishing tackle you could usually go right to the guy who had his name on it to get the answers. Even if he didn’t actually have his name on it, it wasn’t hard to find out who he was.

I didn’t, of course, have a chance to meet all of them back there 69 years ago when I first started writing but by golly I did get to meet quite a few. I’m talking about guys like Bill Norman, Cotton Cordell, Dick Kotis, Jim Bagley, Gary Loomis, Tex Reeder, Phil Jensen and a number of others.

One of the lure manufacturers I’ve always wished I’d had opportunity to meet was Fred Arbogast. That didn’t happen because Fred was already producing the first of his famous to be line of bass lures about the time I came into the world away back in 1923. [Read more…]

The Chowhound

An old Chowhound patch, circa late 1980s.

An old Chowhound patch, circa late 1980s.

This post gets to cover a whole lot of ground. We have an old patch, some applied science, a lure you may or may not recall, and a pretty famous and interesting person to boot. The lure was the “Chowhound,” or as sometimes referred to by it’s full name, the “Chowhound Crankspin.” [Read more…]

Thank You Cotton

Left to right: Odis Young, Cotton Cordell and Fred Young compare Big-Os. Photo Todd Long, fishingforhistory.com

Left to right: Odis Young, Cotton Cordell and Fred Young compare Big-Os. Photo Todd Long, fishingforhistory.com

There are lure designers, seems every garage has at least one, and then there are lure designers. In our time there have only been a few true icons in the industry – Jim Bagley, James Heddon, Bill Norman and Lauri Rapala are a few of them that come to mind. All of these designers left an impression on the industry and sport that will live forever, not only in the books but on the local tackle shelves. They all created baits that were just successful back in the day, they’re still successful today.

The list of lure designers above, all have one thing in common – they’ve all passed on to that big pond in the heavens. [Read more…]

1973 Bill Norman Baits

Fishing Facts, June 1973 Northwoods tackle advertisement

Fishing Facts, June 1973 Northwoods tackle advertisement

Bill Norman Lures is one of the most recognized names in the fishing industry. We’ve touched upon the company and some of their baits in previous posts about their Redman Spinnerbait , as well as a 1977 ad featuring some of their classic diving crankbaits from the Little N series. In today’s post, we’re going to go back a few more years to 1973, and look at a few of their other baits, as well as a sister company that produced some popular baits at the time.

This Northwoods ad, featured in a 1973 issue of Fishing Facts magazine, covered several popular Norman lures. [Read more…]

Success is Coupled with Many Failures

Tom Mann's Hardworm, circa 1984.

Tom Mann’s Hardworm, circa 1984.

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That quote means a lot coming from a man who many consider one of the fathers of the industrial revolution.

In the course of fishing tackle history, there have been hundreds if not thousands of bait makers who have burned out like meteors. There are also a few names that survive as legends of the sport. James Heddon, Bill Norman, Bill Lewis, Charles Spence to name a few. In that list of legendary bait makers is an Alabama man named Tom Mann. [Read more…]

The Bomber Model A

Bomber Model A ad from 1979.

Bomber Model A ad from 1979.

The 1970s were packed with what was known as the “alphabet” lure craze. It all started with Fred Young’s Big-O and went from there. Norman had the Little N and Bagley had the Balsa B. With all the lure manufacturers introducing their versions, it seemed like the industry was bound to run out of letters to use.

Another one of these alphabet baits was the Bomber Model A – a short, squat plastic crankbait that would eventually come in four different sizes along with shallow and deep divers. The lip of the bait was molded into the body creating a solid lure and also had an internal rattling system. [Read more…]

One of the Remaining Few

Norman Lures ad circa 1977.

Here’s a great old ad from 1977 featuring Norman Lures. Front and center is a young Jimmy Houston (wearing a hat!) after winning his first Angler of the Year Award in 1976. One of the funny things about the ad is Jimmy’s boat. Note the first generation Norman Lures “wrap.” Looks as if Jimmy took his boat to a kindergarten finger painting class and let the little buggers go at it.

The other anglers featured in the ad are Woo Daves (what a head of hair!), Gerry Kennedy and Roger Mhoon. Other than Daves, I’ve only heard of Mhoon as he used to fish the Bassmaster Trail. [Read more…]

What Were They Thinking?

1976 Norman Redman Spinnerbait ad.

I posted something a few years back about my preference for a spinnerbait and still to this day, it hasn’t changed. Of course over the course of the last 30 years spinnerbait technologies have increased and now we have titanium wires and weight-distributed bodies. All this new stuff is great and serves a purpose but give me an old 1/4- to 1/2-ounce Norman Redman spinnerbait (red head of course) and I’m happy about 90% of the time.

[Read more…]