Let’s Look Back: “You Gotta Make ‘Em Talk” – Part 2

The late Blackie Lightfoot travelled all over the United States showing bass anglers how to use lures the people he represented were selling. Out of all the different hard baits he fished, the one he holds here was his favorite. It is a Cordell Red Fin. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The late Blackie Lightfoot travelled all over the United States showing bass anglers how to use lures the people he represented were selling. Out of all the different hard baits he fished, the one he holds here was his favorite. It is a Cordell Red Fin. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I wish the words I want to share in this column were easy for me to write, but they aren’t.  They will deal with the bass lure I told about in my previous Let’s Look Back column.

The lure, of course, is the Cordell Red Fin.  I detailed how my Texas friend Blackie Lightfoot once traveled the whole country showing writers and guides in different areas how the lures being marketed by the PRADCO people were best used.

As it turned out, after fishing all kinds of baits all over the place, Blackie’s favorite hard bait of the whole bunch was the Cordell Red Fin.  What he personally showed me on fishing trips we made together from Washington State to California wound up revealing why he felt as he did. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: “You Gotta Make ‘Em Talk” – Part 1

My friend Blackie Lightfoot pulled the bass boat you see here all over the United States. He'd get together with writers and guides along the way and show them the different lures available from the PRADCO people he was working for. Here I boat a nice bass that Blackie had hooked on one of his favorite lures. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

My friend Blackie Lightfoot pulled the bass boat you see here all over the United States. He’d get together with writers and guides along the way and show them the different lures available from the PRADCO people he was working for. Here I boat a nice bass that Blackie had hooked on one of his favorite lures. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

[Editor’s note:  This submission was to be posted April 1, 2016.  I light of my travel schedule and the fact I had very intermittent internet access the last month, I was unable to post it.  Stan’s May submission – Part 2 of this series – will post tomorrow.] 

This column has a dual purpose.

One is that I want to tell you about a guy whom I always felt was one of the best bass anglers I ever met.  The second is to tell you about his favorite lure and exactly what he had to do with it to get the results he was after.

Probably the easiest way for me to do that is to share an experience I had once while fishing with my good friend Steve Fleming, of Fossil, Oregon.  Steve operates the much respected Mah-Hah outfitters operation out Fossil.  For years he has been a top guide on Oregon’s John Day River. [Read more…]

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…]

Happy Birthday to a Twenty Year Old Dieting Deep Diver

Twenty years ago one of the best crankbaits that has ever been developed was born - the Bomber Fat Free Shad.

Twenty years ago one of the best crankbaits that has ever been developed was born – the Bomber Fat Free Shad.

Looking through the old “New Tackle for…” issues of Bassmaster, it quickly becomes clear that few new lures survive the open market for even a couple of years, let alone two decades. Of those that do live to fish another day or another year, many take a long time to gather a meaningful following. In that respect, the Bomber Fat Free Shad is something of an anomaly, a lure that was popular almost from the start, due in no small part to good design, a solid pro-staff and more than a bit of on-the-water advertising. While many of us can still remember its introduction, this year it celebrates its 20th birthday.

In 1994, PRADCO introduced the Pro Autograph Series of hard lures – proven baits that each bore a particular pro’s name and his suggested modifications or special paint schemes. They included the following lures: [Read more…]

Tackle Box Evolution

Rebel Fish'N Box ad circa 1976.

Rebel Fish’N Box ad circa 1976.

Ask any pro on tour where they rate tackle organization in their daily fishing success and I guarantee each and every one of them will say it’s paramount to their success. Well organized tackle allows the angler to quickly find needed gear, it permits the angler know when they need to restock baits and it also makes it easy on the angler to sort seasonal gear and place it either in the boat or store for future use.

Look in any top pro or weekend angler’s boat or garage and you’ll find large numbers of single sided boxes filled with genres of baits. In fact, the single sided boxes we’ve been using since the early 80s actually act as filing systems much like any warehouse or hardware store uses bins for storage. It’s a system that’s hard to improve upon and probably why it hasn’t changed much over that period of time. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back – Part 29

It won't "always" happen, but my own experience shows it's often my larger baits that wind up catching my biggest bass.  You won't see an abundance of bass this size caught in the waters of the Pacific Northwest where this one came from. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It won’t “always” happen, but my own experience shows it’s often my larger baits that wind up catching my biggest bass. You won’t see an abundance of bass this size caught in the waters of the Pacific Northwest where this one came from. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Those blasted bass are forever endeavoring to get me to increase my already considerable inventory of various forms of profanity.

Why do I make that comment? Because just when I think I’ve got things halfway figured out those big-mouthed buggers often proceed to knock my latest theories way to hell and gone out of the piscatorial ballpark.

I’ve had opportunity to fish for bass in a whole lot of different places for more years than many less fortunate plug pitchers even get to keep on breathing. Be that as it may, I often catch myself thinking I don’t have as many for-sure answers as I think I should. [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…]

Get Yer Patches Here!

EBSCO Lettering Service Ad from 1976.

EBSCO Lettering Service Ad from 1976.

Again, technology has replaced that old bygone era of accumulating every tackle and marine manufacturers’ patches and having your wife (or mom) sew them to every square inch of exposed cloth on your fishing clothes. Today’s die-sublimated “jerseys” take all the fun and character out of pimping the tackle you wish you were paid to use – you surely didn’t get paid for it back then unless your named ended in Martin, Dance or Mann.

Still, there were other types of patches that the bass angler wanted or coveted. For example, my first bass club used to give patches away for 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-place tournament finishes and also for the AOY award that we all so willingly had our wives (mom) sew on our club jackets. It gave us all a feeling of accomplishment and when you went to a club-on-club event, it let them know who the big swinging…..best anglers were. It was fun and brought us all together in a patchy sort of way. [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…]

Is There Really Anything New in Bass Fishing?

Whopper Stopper Ad circa 1976.

As usual, I was cruising an old magazine the other day and this ad caught my eye. Every old-time basser at least remembers the old Whopper Stopper company (now owned by Pradco) and probably had their arm worn out from throwing the Hellbender – what a great bait that was. What originally made me stop, though, was the Bayou Boogie, a bait we’d today call a vibration bait, or Trap.

Upon further review of the ad something else caught my eye – the Dirtybird. Look at the Dirtybird close, though. Does it ring a bell in your head? Do patent suits come to mind? Does the name Chatterbait leap into your head? It should. [Read more…]