Early Days of the Empire

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

1982 Bass Pro Shops ad and offer

We’ve spent a bit of time looking back at some of the first ads from Bass Pro Shops, with the majority of those items being dated from the mid- to late-1970s. Today, we have another old Bass Pro ad to share with you, this one from 1982, just a few years later than those earliest ones. This was a 2-page ad that appeared in Field & Stream magazine, but one I find rather interesting from several different perspectives – not the least of which is the headline to start the ad off, “We’re out to get your fishing tackle business.” Oh, how telling, but that’s just the beginning. [Read more…]

It Gitzit – The Genesis of the Tube

Garland Fat Gitzit ad from January 1982.

Garland Fat Gitzit ad from January 1982.

For those of you bass anglers that were west of Las Vegas, NV during the ‘70s, the name Bobby Garland will definitely bring back some memories. Garland’s Bass’N Man Lure Company was probably best known at the time as the company that developed the Spider Jig – the forerunner of what other companies would call Hula Jigs. But Garland didn’t only make the Spider Jig.

Garland, and his brother Gary, started out as crappie anglers and made the first dipped crappie jigs that I know of in the 1960s. They then bridged into making Mini Jigs, just bigger crappie jigs, and the Skinny Squid for bass. In fact, the Skinny Squid, a 5-inch long hollow worm, predated the Knight Tube Worm by at least five years.

Then came the Spider Jig. The skirt was a 3-inch piece of hollow plastic cut with razor blades to form the tentacles. This was then slipped on the Garland Spider Head along with a double tail trailer that Garland bought OEM from Mister Twister. The jig was developed as a swimming jig and was made primarily in shad-based hues in order to mimic baitfish – although he did offer the skirts and trailers in other colors. [Read more…]

More Old Boat Wraps?

Mister Twister BoatA couple of weeks ago Brian posted a piece in here about old boat wraps – or maybe more correctly, what there was before the actual wrap. That piece spawned a lot of interest from readers and one of the responses was from Ontario reader Doug Cain.

Doug was kind enough to write and subsequenty sent in a picture of another pre-wrap boat, this one flashing the Mister Twister logo.

Here’s what Doug’s message said about the “wrap.” [Read more…]

If it’s Good Enough for Billy – JW Lures Sweet Willie

1977 JW Lure Inc Sweet Willie.

1977 JW Lure Inc Sweet Willie.

They may not have been as big as Mister Twister, Creme or Mann’s Jelly Worms but the J.W. Lures Company was definitely on the map back in the early to late ‘70s. In 1973 their 13-inch Hawg Hunter worm set a record for the largest bass ever weighed in at a B.A.S.S. tournament, a 12-13 monster caught by Bob Tyndall out of Rodman Pool. A couple years later their 4-inch Ding-A-Ling was one of the first worms Don Iovino used to develop his Doodling technique prior to having Jim Smith of Smitty worms make one that would eventually display the Doodle King name.

One that you may have forgotten, though, was the Sweet Willie, backed by smallmouth bass expert Billy Westmorland. The worm was supposedly designed because of the increasing use of light line and rods – or what they still hadn’t defined as finesse fishing. [Read more…]

In-Fisherman’s First “Ads”

What's special about this particular issue of IF?

What’s special about this particular issue of IF?

I wanted to follow-up more on the earliest In-Fisherman magazines, as I’ve become a bit obsessed lately with this period in bass fishing history. In Tuesday’s piece about the first In-Fisherman magazine ever published, I mentioned their initial trumpeting of being a magazine not beholden to advertisers, as there were none in those early issues. That initial concept lasted less than a year though. In the May 1976 edition, they included the first “ads” to be published in the magazine. However, Al didn’t refer to them as such in his opening editorial. [Read more…]

The Beginning of the Toad Invasion?

Long before the Horny Toad…

These days, there’s probably not a basser worth his salt that doesn’t carry a box or two full of “toads”. Those incredibly versatile little rubber creatures, along with their froggin’ counterparts, have proven to be an incredibly potent weapon in the arsenal of bass anglers faced with shallow water filled in by vegetation of all sorts.

If asked, a majority of anglers would likely peg the introduction of the Zoom Horny Toad back in 2005 as beginning the toad trend. However, a look back in the archives reveals a much older history to the storied piece of soft plastic. [Read more…]

Mister Twister – More of the Same

1980 Mister Twister Ad.

Here’s more proof that a large number of baits/tackle are retreads from the past. Take for example the 1980 vintage Mister Twister ad here. In it you’ll see two products that are prevalent today except that the Mister Twister products didn’t gain much popularity and were soon relegated to the bargain bins. Today’s “copies,” though, are in the arsenal of nearly every basser.

For example, by 1980 the Twister Sassy Shad, one of the first boot-tails on the market, was enjoying phenomenal sales. It was selling so well that Mister Twister decided to put a boot tail on nearly every bait they made. Unfortunately, the Sassy Worm didn’t cut the mustard and faded into obscurity shortly thereafter. The boot-tail worm was dead. [Read more…]

The Spinner Company That Couldn’t

Mepps spinnerbait ad 1989.

This is something that’s always perplexed the heck out of me. Here you have a company that’s been making spinners for trout for a ga-gillion years and there’s a multi-million dollar bass market that they can’t break into.

To me it doesn’t seem all that difficult to design a good spinnerbait – especially if you have experts at your disposal who know how to bend wire and mount clevises. Still the Mepps lure company has never been able to break into the bass market.

Looking at this ad, though, it seems they may have finally been on the right track – that is until you, “look under their skirt.” [Read more…]