Remember these silly gimmick lures?
Since the beginning of time, man has been trying to find an easier and better way to catch fish. As such, people are constantly trying to reinvent the better fishing lure. Some of these reinventions have worked and some haven’t.
For a time, there were several kinds of gimmick lures that were heavily marketed on cheesy TV infomercials as being “miracle lures.”
These ridiculously gimmicky lures came about mostly in the mid and late 1990s. They often claimed you could throw away all your other tackle, as you wouldn’t need anything else once you bought one of these six “As Seen on TV” lures. Too bad they weren’t nearly as good as they claimed.
This one undoubtedly lured in more anglers than fish. Part of the reason for that was bass fishing legend Roland Martin giving the lure his endorsement in the commercials. The helicopter lure was advertised as the world’s most versatile bait. The commercials claimed the lure could work as a topwater buzzbait, a jig or simply as a plastic worm. It was also supposed to catch fish in freshwater or saltwater.
The truth is the lure was terrible. It looks like nothing natural in any waters in the world. In some cases, it frightened more fish than it caught. There are videos online that prove it can catch fish, but most anglers caught nothing and regretted throwing away their hard-earned money. The helicopter lure’s spinning action also had a tendency to badly twist your line, creating headache-inducing tangles, some of which anglers still haven’t cleared up!
Truly curious anglers can still find the original helicopter lure sets on eBay for quite cheap. But you’re probably better off just buying some Rat-L-traps or new Rapalas.
The Flying Lure
This one claimed to be the best-selling fishing lure of all time (we highly doubt the commercial’s claims of 500 million sold). Although, we were amazed to discover it’s STILL sold to this day! Who would’ve thought?
We’re not even sure how to describe this one. Is it a jig? A soft jerkbait? A hybrid of the two? We can’t really say for sure. The commercials claimed this lure’s design allowed it to “fly under cover,” and other areas regular lures couldn’t reach. On paper, that sounds great and it makes perfect sense to any fisherman who’s dealt with the frustration of fish hiding out in hard-to-reach cover.
And, the flying lure does have a small, dedicated base of fans on the internet who insist it catches fish. But for the most part, you’ll find most anglers caught nothing and believe they were scammed.
The Banjo Minnow
The banjo minnow easily had the cheesiest commercials out of any of the lures on this list, mostly thanks to the incessant banjo music that played through the whole thing. But they had footage of bass in a tank just inhaling these things left and right. And the awesome action of the baits underwater was supposed to provoke fish bites via a “genetic response” from fish no matter if they were hungry or not. It sounded too good to be true.
That’s because it was. I owned a set personally and beyond the soft plastic body of the bait itself, the rest of the banjo minnow was a terrible design. The wire corkscrew thing you used to attach the soft plastic baits to the hooks was a total joke. My first cast sent the first bait flying off the hook completely and into the depths of the pond I was fishing, never to be seen again.
Then there were the “weed guards” that were more like the rubber bands I had on my braces as a kid. They were supposed to make the banjo minnow weedless. But I spent more time clearing the weeds from these guards than I did fishing. That is, if the guards didn’t pop off almost immediately. Finally, there were the terribly designed hooks that never allowed a proper hook set on the rare occasion when a fish did actually bite.
They’ve since released new, updated versions of the minnow, but I passed after my first horrible experience with the original. It’s hard to believe a fishing legend like Bill Dance actually allowed his name to be associated with this awful lure. Ever notice how the pros who endorse these things never use them in their shows later?
Mighty Bite Fishing Lure System
This one is a bit more recent, but much like the banjo minnow, it also claimed to tap into a fish’s five primal senses to bring about a kill-and-eat response. They look like a simple jig and soft plastic minnow body, but the mighty bite claimed to be better because it utilized rattles and a scent stick that leaves a trail for the fish to find.
The commercials (one of which literally shows an angler throwing his tackle box in the trash) claimed fish hit this lure harder because it “includes a blast of flavor” when the fish bites down. As if that wasn’t enough, they also included glow-in-the-dark components for deep water and low-light conditions.
While it does seem this fishing lure does work at times, most reviews you’ll find are pretty lukewarm. It certainly doesn’t seem to live up to the claim of “being better than live bait.”
If you explore further online, you’ll also find many complaints from people who ordered this lure via the manufacturer’s website or the hotline from the TV commercials. Many claim to have had extra items they didn’t want added to their order. Others claim they were charged twice for the same order. Worse yet, some claim they didn’t get their lures at all.
The Walking Worm
Another more recent addition to the “As Seen on TV” family of gimmick fishing lures. The commercials for the walking worm claimed it out-fished live bait by a 3-to-1 ratio and that it was possibly going to be banned from tournaments. The secret of this lure was the “energy recoil action” that allowed it to curl and twist like a real worm in the water, or so the commercials would have you believe.
That isn’t really walking, though. Shouldn’t they have called it the twisting worm or the wriggling worm? In any case, while the action of the bass lure in the commercials looks decent enough, once again you’ll find reviews of the lure to be rather “meh” in nature. And of course, there’s been no word of any major tournament banning the walking worm, which is probably because most pros wouldn’t be caught dead with one of these in their boat.
It came to $19.95 for a set of 30 worms. And, you could buy the same number of regular plastic worms for a fraction of the cost and still have some money left over to pick up an extra crankbait or spinnerbait.
The Laser Lure
Imagine your typical crankbait, topwater popper or jerkbait, only with lasers! That’s literally the whole sales pitch for the laser lure. You’d think this was a late 90s gimmick, but this lure was actually marketed around 2009 and 2010. The laserlure added red laser lights to traditional lures. That’s it. That’s the whole gimmick. Yet they claimed these lures out-fished traditional ones.
By most accounts, these lures were actually very well made. But adding laser lights to crankbaits seemed to make them much more expensive. We found one lowly laserlure still on sale on Amazon for the unbelievable price of $19.99. That’s for just one lure! It’s little wonder few anglers were biting on this gimmick and the laser lure never took off, even with endorsements from bass pro Mike Iaconelli.
In fact, it’s rumored the company itself quietly went out of business, although no one really seems to know for sure. In any case, just chalk it up as another gimmick fishing lure that failed horribly.