More Bombers

1977 Bomber Speed Shad and Model A being sold in American Bass Fisherman magazine.

1977 Bomber Speed Shad and Model A being sold in American Bass Fisherman magazine.

A couple of weeks ago we did the first part of the 1978 Bassmaster season and in that article, we mentioned Hurley Board’s Lake Gaston win. Board attributed his win not just to sticking to his game plan but also to the use of a Bomber Speed Shad.

After that event, the Speed Shad became the predominant bait on both Gaston and Bugg’s (Kerr depending upon what side of the boarder you’re on) reservoirs. In fact, original Speed Shads are still in high demand for the North Carolina/Virginia boarder waters.

That article sent me on a mission to try and find an old Speed Shad ad to share with you – and I found one from 1977. Not only that, but I found three other Bomber ads dating from the same year, two of which feature crankbait legend, Floyd Mabry. [Read more…]

Twenty Five Years of Baits Named “RC”

Rick Clunn won his fourth Bassmaster Classic on the first baits that sported his initials - The RC1 and RC3 crankbaits by Poe's.

Rick Clunn won his fourth Bassmaster Classic on the first baits that sported his initials – The RC1 and RC3 crankbaits by Poe’s.

Poe’s Lures was founded by Californian Milton Poe in the 1950s. Rick Clunn was born in 1946. It took approximately 40 years for their two legacies to join up on the most public stage in bass fishing, the 1990 Bassmaster Classic on the James River.

Twenty five years after Clunn’s fourth Classic victory, most fishing fans associate his initials with the RC 1.5, a square bill crankbait from Lucky Craft, initially marketed by Bass Pro Shops, which has more recently been renamed. In many respects it spawned the rebirth of square bills in the public’s eye as the first widely-distributed and popularized plastic bait that acted like the traditional balsa lures. For other anglers with slightly longer memories, Clunn’s initials call to mind the Rico topwater popper, one of the first high-end Japanese lures to gain favor on American soil. Before either of them, though, there were the RC 1 and RC 3 crankbaits from Poe’s. [Read more…]

Rebel Deep Maxi-R: The Rise of Deep Cranking

The Deep Maxi-R once dominated deep cranking tournaments.

The Deep Maxi-R once dominated deep cranking tournaments.

Once upon a time there was no such thing as a Norman DD-22, a Poes 400 or a Mann’s 20+. There were Bombers (the old metal square bills), Mudbugs and Hellbenders. That was pretty much it in the world of deep cranking, and even those were almost as synonymous with trolling as with casting. Much of that changed though with some of the early deep diving “alphabet” plugs made by Rebel, and the “big daddy” of them all, the Rebel Maxi-R.

The original Maxi-R was actually a large square bill crankbait. At 3″ and nearly 7/8oz., it was a mouthful for the time. Rebel would later go on and put a large diving bill on many of their models, and the Deep Maxi-R was born. An even later version was the Double Deep Maxi-R, which featured a large ball bearing molded into the lip of the bait to help achieve a steeper diving angle and some extra weighting, this all at a time long before neutrally buoyant baits. These deep diving Maxi’s became the work horses of early deep crankbaiters and “structure” fishermen, and many bass tournaments were won fishing “deep” ledges, points and creek channels with these baits. [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…]

Categorizing Crankbait Depths

Bagley crankbaits, photo credit R. Yoder Graphics

Bagley crankbaits, photo credit R. Yoder Graphics

The bassin’ world has seen its share of crankbait crazes, usually tied to an approximate depth range that a “hot” bait will run. For example, we seem to have recently come out of a shallow phase with the popularity of squarebills, and are now re-entering a deepwater phase with baits like the 6XD and 10XD, especially with “ledge events” being held during the summer. From a historical perspective, everybody surely remembers the ‘kneel and reel’ period made famous by Paul Elias, as well as the David Fritts deep crankbait era. Somewhere in there was the popularity of shallow runners such as the Mann’s 1-, or the Rat-L-Trap. Some lasted longer than others, but in each case, a series of events would make one style of bait the most popular way of cranking at the time. [Read more…]

Applied Science: Bagley Clones Little Gamefish

Early Bagley 'Small Fry' ad. In'Fisherman, April-May, 1979.

Early Bagley ‘Small Fry’ ad. In’Fisherman, April-May, 1979.

While there is some debate about which company actually started the natural finish craze that hit the crankbait market in the very late 70s and early 80s, there is little doubt which company made the most lifelike creations at the time. Thanks to advances in technology, manufacturers were able to take quality photographic images and apply them to the surfaces of their baits. Now, instead of painting on an image of a fish in a spray room, instead you would end up with a picture of a baitfish or a crawdad applied to your lure. [Read more…]

It’s the Little Things That Matter

Can you guess what is special about this bait?

Can you guess what is special about this bait?

There are some things in the fishing industry that we probably take for granted simply because that’s the way it’s been for as long as many can remember. Kind of like the articles I read every so often about things in my generation that today’s kids have never heard of because they became nearly obsolete with the advances in technology (8-track, typewriters, etc.). While this one might not fall exactly into that category, take a look at the picture on the left and see if you can figure out the significance of it.

Give up? [Read more…]

Tackle 1949

Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler ad circa 1949.

Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler ad circa 1949.

By 1949 the sport of bass fishing was starting to morph into its own. World War II was over and the Korean conflict was still someone elses problem. Veterans of the war had come home, started careers and many of these people looked to the outdoors as a way to relax. Although the outdoors had always been there, in the late 40s fishing started to become more about the sport than that of putting dinner on the table. [Read more…]

The Bass Aren’t the Only Ones That Eat Them

RebelThere are a couple of reasons we all buy bass lures. First because we want to catch fish and second, we have an addiction to buying them. I don’t know how many baits I’ve bought over the course of my life but I’m sure I don’t want to know that answer and I’m doubly sure that my insurance agent doesn’t either.

One thing that’s happened over my life is I’ve seen a lot of lure companies go by the wayside. Some of them just went out of business for whatever reason be it bad designs, not enough revenue to make the industry worth while or, as we’re going to talk about here, a bigger fish buys them out. [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…]