These are some of the world's worst fishing lures.
About 20 miles from my home, in Dowagiac, Michigan is a small lake where sometime in the late 1890s, James Heddon sat on the shore whittling away on a stick to pass the time. When he got up to leave, he tossed the stick into the water, and a largemouth bass took a swipe at it.
This incident was the "Eureka!" moment that got the gears turning in Heddon's head and soon led to the foundation of Heddon Lures. Since anglers first came up with the concept of artificial lures, they have been trying to perfect them. The best lures are now part of a multi-million dollar fishing tackle industry.
That industry has led to a plethora of experiments in the quest to catch fish.
While Heddon's original idea was a stroke of absolute angling brilliance, the lures on this list are anything but that. These are some of the worst lures ever designed or sold.
The Big Bud
While I just praised James Heddon, his company made this ridiculous lure many years after his death. So, I don't fault him.
The Big Bud was introduced sometime in the 1970s and it is completely ridiculous. This lure just screams "redneck." Obviously, this was a promotional lure done in conjunction with Anheuser-Busch, hence the Budweiser beer can design.
This lure was probably never meant to be fished with; it's just a display item. But people did go out and fish with these things. They've even caught a few. But let's face it, this lure is totally silly and you'll look like an idiot trying to seriously fish with one.
It looks nothing like a shad or other baitfish. We're not even sure what to call this lure. Is it a crankbait? A topwater? You don't see many hard body lures with a spinner blade on them, which just makes it look even weirder.
The more I look at, the more convinced I am this was designed by a marketing team with no experience in fishing, and not by the fine lure makers at Heddon.
It takes some creativity and innovation to come up with a good fishing lure design. Many people probably thought the spinnerbait and jighead were ridiculous the first time someone made one. To come up with the next big thing that every angler just had to have for their tackle box, it required some outside-the-box thinking, creativity and a little bravery.
I won't fault the makers of the helicopter lure for not being brave. This is a bold design that quickly became known to anglers across the country for the TV ads that showed a bass fishing lure that seemed too good to be true.
That's because it was. While you can catch an occasional fish on the helicopter lure, this thing tends to twist the line badly, resulting in horrific bird's nests. Many anglers felt like they were taken and wished they'd just spent that hard-earned money on Rapalas instead.
The Hover Lure
I didn't learn about this one until just recently, but I can safely say it's a contender for worst lure design ever. It must be seen to be believed. The Hover Lure sought to change the rules of fishing by taking the lure out of the water and suspending it just above the surface. The idea here was to make it look like a dragonfly hovering over the water.
The design they came up with here is beyond horrible. There's a big plastic piece that is meant to resemble a lily pad or leaf. This part of the lure also acts as the stand for the dragonfly lure itself, which sits propped at the end. The line threads through the leaf and moves freely while you're fighting the fish.
But from the commercial above, it seems the bass are striking the leaf and not the dragonfly. It's probably more of a curiosity bite, like what you sometimes get on a topwater popper than anything else.
In any case, I'd be embarrassed to have them in my tackle box. I was totally shocked to discover these things are still for sale online. Who's buying them? Seriously!
The Banjo Minnow
Here's another "As Seen on TV" lure. Notice a pattern? The commercials swore this plastic bait out fished every other lure in existence because it triggered a "genetic response" to strike.
Plus, this one was claimed to be more than just a bass lure. The commercials claimed you could catch crappie, walleye, pike, muskie, bluegill, catfish and more. They even claimed it was a great saltwater bait!
The reality was it was a terrible design. The screw-in weights and hooks often didn't hold, causing your minnows to go flying across the lake sans hook, never to be seen again. On the rare occasion you did get a bite, the hooks were designed so poorly that the bait seemed to pop out of the fish's mouth the second you put any pressure on that big bass.
I still want my money back for the Banjo minnow and it's been 22 years since I owned them! At least they taught some valuable life lessons to many of us. Never again will I buy another lure advertised in an infomercial.
The Dance's Eel
Look, for the record, we love Bill Dance. We really do. He seems like a nice guy and he's one heck of a fisherman. We've learned a lot about fishing from his TV shows over the years. We've also had plenty of belly laughs from his bloopers.
You've got to hand it to the guy for not being afraid to laugh at himself.
With that being said, Dance has a bad habit of endorsing terrible lure designs. Don't believe me? He endorsed the banjo minnow. Enough said.
But he has another terrible lure more closely associated with his name, and that's Dance's Eel (or the "Dancing Eel" as some people refer to it).
Now, you will find a few defenders of this bait online, but by and large, most people agree. This lure stinks.
Mostly it's in the design. This lure resembles a tadpole at a distance, but the tail is closer to what you'd see on a real eel. I can't blame them for trying this lure. I have seen bass eat tadpoles before. But this bait has a bad reputation for a reason. It just flat-out doesn't work in many, if not most areas.
Why? Maybe it's just too radical of a design. Maybe the fish aren't eating tadpoles in most areas. Whatever the reason, this lure comes up again and again for many fishermen and women as the lure they regret buying the most. Sorry, Bill.
The Flying Lure
This lure's gimmick was that it "flew" under heavy cover to where the fish were waiting. Next to the Helicopter and Banjo Minnow, this is one of the "big three" lures people think of when they think "As seen on TV" lures.
It's products like this that make me wonder just how long they were out there at the lake with those camera crews to get the results they show in the commercial. I'm guessing it's a lot longer than what they show.
The wacky thing is, this lure is still being sold to this day. If you go to their website, you'll see a rather dubious claim of "over 500 million sold." Uh-huh, sure.
To be fair, the commercials did sell plenty of lures, but most anglers who bought the things say it was their biggest fishing tackle purchase regret. Save yourself some money. Buy something proven, like some ned rig plastic worms or some swimbaits instead.
The Twitching Lure
This one is still new. This was yet another attempt at a ridiculous gimmick. This time, it's just something inside the lure that causes vibration or a "twitching" action. Some models also have flashing lights.
By now you know the pitch of these things. "All other lures are obsolete!" At one point, it even shows a guy throwing his tackle box in the trash. We can't help but laugh at it.
This one even went so far as to make a bold claim of a "fish on every cast or your money back." Seriously, that's in the commercial!
Of course, the lure doesn't produce anything like that. In fact, if you start digging deep on this one, you'll see people complaining the vibrating action didn't work at all in the lure they purchased.
Or there's the opposite end of the spectrum. In the video above, Jon B tested one of these lures and he couldn't get it to stop vibrating after he was done fishing. I didn't even buy this lure and I want my money back after watching that! Just chalk it up as another person's failed get rich quick scheme.
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