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…]

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…]

More Cuba – The 1978 ABF Bass Tournament

Anglers flew to Mexico in order to get to Cuba. Read the original caption from the Mar/Apr 1978 issue of American Bass Fisherman to see who was signing up. Photo American Bass Fisherman magazine.

Anglers flew to Mexico in order to get to Cuba. Read the original caption from the Mar/Apr 1978 issue of American Bass Fisherman to see who was signing up. Photo American Bass Fisherman magazine.

Last week when Pete posted the piece on the relaxing of political ties between the U.S. and Cuba – and the renewed possibilities of U.S. anglers being able to fish the mythical lakes on the island – it jogged my memory of the first (maybe the only) bass tournament ever held on the island. That event was sponsored by the now-defunct American Bass Fishing organization who used Dan Snow as the conduit for getting a number of American anglers from the U.S. to Cuba via a tortuous path through Mexico. [Read more…]

Bagley’s Bait Company – 1977

1977 Bagley's Ad taken from American Angler Magazine.

1977 Bagley’s Ad taken from American Angler Magazine.

We’ve written a couple pieces on the Jim Bagley Bait Company over the course of the last couple years (you can see two of them here and here), but I personally never get tired of looking at their ads from days past. Recently I was scouring all my 1977 magazines for another piece and noticed after a while, how many ads Bagley had placed in the various magazines of the time and decided to scan them all.

The year 1977 was a banner year for the company due to the fact that Rick Clunn had just won back-to-back Bassmaster Classic and caught some of his fish in each event on Bagley’s baits. This seems to have done a couple of things – namely provide a bunch of sales for the company which, in turn, allowed them to step up their ad campaign in order to sell more. [Read more…]

Bagley’s Better Baits 1975

Bagley's Better Baits ad from January 1975.

Bagley’s Better Baits ad from January 1975.

I’ve been a fan of Jim Bagley’s creations (and Lee Sisson’s too) pushing 40 years now. I bought my first Bagley’s bait somewhere in the 1976 timeframe, a baby bass colored Honey B, and it was the bait I caught my first crankbait fish on – a 1 1/2-pound largemouth at Lake Irvine’s Santiago Flats. Since that time I’ve had a sort of fetish with the company, although it’s obvious that I didn’t know all they made.

I recently received a 1975 American Bass Fisherman magazine from a close friend and while thumbing through the pages came across this ad from that era. The ad touts that that six of the top 10 from the American Bass Fisherman World Championship caught their fish on the baits shown. What grabbed me was I’d only seen one of these baits in the flesh, seen another in an old ad during the time and had never seen the other two baits until I got this magazine. [Read more…]

Know Your Alphabet – The Bagley’s Balsa B

1973 Ad from Jim Bagley's Bait Company.

1973 Ad from Jim Bagley’s Bait Company.

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. [Read more…]

Got Worms?

Creme plastic worms circa mid-1960s still in their packs. Note the two weedless hooks pre-rigged in the bait. Photo Terry Battisti.

Editor’s Note: I’d like to thank Stan Fagerstrom for allowing me to photograph some of his old tackle used in this article.

For those of you out there who are certified worm freaks, here’s a blast from the past with respect to some worm-fishing history. Although Nick and Cosma Creme are rightfully credited with being the first people to develop what is known as the contemporary plastic worm (made out of PVC plastic), DeLong Lures actually started before (1946) the Cremes went into business in 1949. [Read more…]