Enough with all the talk about lures that work. Most of them do. How about the Worst Lure?
I get weekly emails from “Fishing Tackle Retailer”. Even though it’s been a decade since I was a retailer, I still like to keep track of trends and what not. One feature they had recently sparked a memory, it asked the question “What is the worst lure of all time?” Before I even got to their answer, one thing came to mind for me right away, and it turns out the author of the article had the same lure in mind.
Before I continue, let me just say that I’ve done my share of tackle designing. Some of it is actually pretty good. I used to make “Hans-Tail” muskie lures that worked well, I used to sell a few hundred a year. And as a fly tyer I have come up with some pretty good designs, one of which has allowed me to be in the prestigious “Royalty Tier” program with Umpqua Feather Merchants—my “Stay Hungry” streamer has been in their catalog for ten years. I have my own style of handle for muskie rods, which while it is not for everyone has been well received by some. Some other ideas that I think have merit but have never gotten past the drawing board include an awesome weedless bass jig and an ingenious ice fishing transducer holder.
Many a night was spent in my crappy one bedroom apartment I used to live, in conjuring up the next big thing. If The Gunnar and I were going fishing the next day, there would invariably be an evening session fueled by beer and whatnot of tying something, building something, creating something, rigging something that would fill the boat the next day. We came up with some good stuff, some not so much. I remember we came up with some crazy live bait rig concept that was going to be revolutionary. We caught one catfish on it the next day and realized it was only a tiny bit different from a hundred other things already out there. And then there was the “Penguin”—this was a weighted metal thingy with wings that would be used by an ice angler. Clip it to your line and it would “fly” like penguin, bringing your bait to far off underwater destinations. We speculated it could get your bait 100 feet or more from your fish house allowing you to cover more water without moving. WTF ? On its maiden voyage, my prototype Penguin did “fly”, and it could get your bait away from your ice hole, but not in a way that could be controlled, and definitely not farther than about 10 feet or so. There’s probably a drone made today that will do this for you and record the action in 1080p.
Part of my current fly tying and lure building area
So, what was the worst lure of all time? Before you are too quick to answer, even gimmicky “As Seen on TV” baits like the Banjo Minnow, Helicopter Lure, or the infamous “Flying Lure” will actually work, and work pretty well in some circumstances. I watched one of my friends in high school catch a northern on an old-style metal bottle opener with a treble hook split ringed on one end, proving that predatory fish can be caught on anything that vaguely resembles food, especially if it is moving fast and has a decent hook on it. Fly fishermen agonize over fly patterns, fretting that the body on their nymph may not be the proper golden olive-brown hue, but I have caught countless trout on a fly that is just black fur on a hook. I watched a show once where Tim Rajeff caught a big rainbow on a fly he tied on the river bank by lashing a white feather he found on shore to a hook, using tippet material for tying thread.
As I sit here I know I could make a fish catching lure by using raw materials here at my computer desk. Here I present the Pen Lure. Its revolutionary. Not only can you catch fish on it, you can take down notes of what you need to pick up at the store on your way home. Before a tournament, I often say how I am going to kick ass and take down names. Now with the Pen Lure I can do both. And then use it to sign autographs for all my adoring fans. Joking aside, as dumb as the pen lure is, it would still work a thousand times better than what I am about to show you.
So what is the worst lure of all time: I share the opinion of others before me: it is the “Hover Lure”.
I was working at a tackle shop at the time the Hover Lure was released. I became aware of it when I saw an ad for the thing in a trade magazine. [probably “Fishing Tackle Retailer!”] The concept, while novel, could not possibly work I thought.
There is romanticized image that regularly appears in outdoor paintings: we’ve all seen paintings depicting a bass jumping out of the water after a dragon fly. Guess what—this scenario does actually happen– once in a while. One time really stands out–I recall this one weekend a million years ago: I was at Lake Rebecca when the dragonflies were very abundant for some reason, and bass were jumping out of the water after them constantly throughout the day. I was in a float tube armed with a fly rod and caught dozens of bass on a deer hair bug. I went home and tied some realistic dragonfly imitations and returned the next day—the realistic patterns worked, but no better than the generic deer hair poppers.
Hundreds of days on the water, I saw this kind of behavior on a grand scale once, and a few other times to a lesser degree. So it is hardly the kind of thing that you can depend on it, or should try to plan for.
The company behind the Hover Lure was putting a fair amount into their marketing, and were eager to send me a dealer kit. A week or two later I had the package in hand. What would I find? Maybe it would be better than expected. Maybe it would open my eyes to a whole new style of fishing. Or maybe it would be so ridiculous that we would laugh about it for weeks. Heck it’s been 15 years and I still chuckle when I look at this thing.
The premise is this—the lure represents a dragonfly HOVERING over the water. There are two main elements to the thing—first is the lily pad part. It is about 3” long and is heavy enough to cast. On one end of the lily pad is a little loop to thread your line through, on the other end is a thin stem. This is where the HOVERING takes place. You thread you line though the one end of the lily pad, and then tie it to the dragonfly resting daintily on the stem. What a perfect setup. The bass will see the dragonfly and delicately snap it off its little perch.
The angler will then set the hook which will break free of the little stem, and the lily pad will slide freely up the line while the battle is on. This is a fun concept and to someone with limited fishing knowledge it seems like a surefire way to catch even the wariest of fish… Except for the part where the hook is so light that even if a bass did decide to daintily pluck the bug out of the air, and the angler would somehow manage to hook the fish, the gold wire would straighten out on all but the smallest bass- there is no way it would ever hold up. The other problem is that I can’t imagine how a bass’s big mouth would ever manage to clamp down on just the bug. There is still a promo video on YouTube that is quite funny. There are several great strikes shown, but in all cases the fish just ate the whole thing, lily pad and all. And at no time did they show the fish actually being hooked or landed. It says at the end of the video that it makes a great Father’s Day gift. I am lucky to have the Father’s Day tradition of my girls buying me a bag of plastic worms or craws, maybe a spinnerbait, maybe a crankbait if I’ve been really good. Even my girls would know better than to buy this thing for any reason other than pure novelty. Here is a link to the Hover-Lure Video
Did the inventor actually make any money on this? Between marketing, designing, tooling for the plastic parts, website, etc. the guy must have had a million dollars into this. Despite all this, I suspect a fish has never been caught. I bet that if you took someone who was a really good angler and also made a few tweaks to the design [especially a heavier hook] and sent him out with the sole purpose of capturing a bass on this thing it could be done. I also suspect it would take many trips. Many, many, trips. To catch “a” bass. Trouble is that the only people who would buy this thing are people with limited fishing knowledge who couldn’t catch a fish even on proven baits. Proud sponsor of the FLW Tour is says right on the package. I wonder how many touring pros have ever had one rigged during a tournament? I wonder how I could find someone to back me on an idea that might actually catch fish?
In the following photos of my dealer kit, be sure to note the background chosen for the folder is a mountain lake–prime largemouth habitat. Also notice on the pricing sheet that discounts for quantities up to over 5,000 units receive an additional 20 % discount
So, what is the best lure of all time? They’ve got these things called plastic worms, turns out that no matter how you rig them or under what conditions you use them in it is always a safe bet. But that’s another story.
Here is the link to the article from “Fishing Tackle Retailer”