Lure manufacturers have a simple goal when they put their products on the market — catch fishermen first.
“Revolutionary new bait.”
“So effective that it may soon be banned by fish and game agencies.”
“Appeals to all of the senses of gamefish.”
Those slogans — and many more — have long been used as bait to hook fishermen.
But the crowning marketing strategy? To come up with a name that fishermen simply can’t forget.
Here are some of my favorites:
• The S.O.B.: No, not what you’re thinking. This S.O.B. is short for self-orbiting bait. It is equipped with a battery, a propeller and a rudder to take the lure to where the fish live. Uh, not a big seller.
• The S.O.S.: Again, not what you’re expecting. The acronym stands for swims on side. The topwater lure lays on its side like an injured minnow.
• The Big Bud: Fishermen like beer, right? So why not come up with a fishing lure that looks like a beer can? That was the reasoning when the lure was designed in the 1970s and later sold by Heddon and later Pradco. It sold well but probably as more of a novelty than an effective lure. It was discontinued in 2002.
• Wiggle Wart: When Bill and Gary Storm designed this unique crankbait, they were looking for a unique name. They found it when their mother kept calling her grandkids “wiggle warts” because the youngsters were always on the move.
• Little Cleo: When Charlie Clark, a songwriter and producer, introduced this lure in 1953, he named it after an exotic dancer he had watched perform. He thought the spoon had the same mesmerizing moves as the dancer. A likeness of a scantily clad dancer was even printed on the back of the original spoons. It was removed years later after Clark’s company was sold to Acme and the latter business received complaints from a female employee of a major retailer.
• Heddon Lucky 13: Thirteen is supposed to bring bad luck. But many fishermen who bought this bait swore just the opposite. A topwater bait that was first marketed in 1920, it has fooled many fish in its time.
• Scooter Pooper: This antique lure had a crazy name and an even crazier design. It featured a rod with a pill box and hooks attached. Definitely not a bestseller.
• Dardevle: When Lou Eppinger introduced his red and white spoon years ago, he came up with the name as a way to honor a U.S. Marine brigade that was nicknamed Devil Dogs by the Germans they fought in World War I. Eppinger changed the spelling of devil to “avoid insulting church-going people,” he said. But in one of his ads promoting the lures, he said, “Cast out the Devle, catch more fish.”
• Helicopter Lure: With three rotating blades, it’s easy to see where this lure got its name. It was one of those “as seen on TV” lures, featured on lengthy infomercials where bass fishing great Roland Martin gushed about their effectiveness.
• Jitterbug: Fred Arbogast introduced this lure in 1938 as an imitation of a large bug muddling on the surface. The name caught on, and it’s still a popular bait today.
• Hula Popper: Another popular topwater lure made by Arbogast, it features a hard body and a flowing, hula-type skirt.
• Fropwater Spinnercrank: This lure tried to take the guesswork out of which bass lure to use. It combined the design of a topwater lure, a crankbait and a spinnerbait. Thus the name.
• Jelly Worms: When Tom Mann set out to create a line of plastic worms in the late 1960s, he looked for something that would appeal to a fish’s sense of smell. So he added fruit flavors to the plastics. Purple worms smelled like grapes, red smelled like strawberries, etc. It must have worked. The Mann’s baits are still popular today.
• Big O crankbait: This famous Cotton Cordell crankbait has quite a history. It was designed by Tennessee fisherman Fred Young, who carved a wooden version of the lure while he was recovering from surgery. He gave some of the baits to his brother, Otis, who was nicknamed Big O. Thus the name of the lure. Otis began dominating bass tournaments with the lures and word got around. Young struck a business deal with well-known lure manufacturer Cotton Cordell, who wanted to mass produce a plastic version of the bait. It went on to become one of the most successful hard baits of all time.
• Swedish Pimple: The name comes from the Swedish world “pimpla,” which means “to jig.”
• Gitzit: What a great name for a lure. This plastic tube bait, designed by Bobby and Gary Garland in the 1960s, is one of the most famous finesse baits of all-time. It is termed a drop bait, meaning the it gets most of its action when jigged and allowed to drop.
• Senko: Invented by Gary Yamomoto, this lure gets its name from the Japanese word translating to “flash of light.”
Brent Frazee is an outdoors columnist writing twice monthly in the Globe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.