Opie eyed the Golly Whomper in his dad’s tackle box with a kind of lust and reverence reserved for no other material thing on earth. Andy understood. He knew that silly-looking lure represented afternoons spent fishing with dad. Fishing creates the opportunity to plug yourself into the real world in a way nothing else can do, and a lure, well—it’s the plug. Right? That’s what we call the wooden and plastic ones with trebles, anyway. Now you know why. The real world produces oxygen. Can’t get that from a spreadsheet. It produces food. Can’t get that from a laboratory or a board room. And it produces fish. Can’t get those from computers or robotics. The best scientists in the world all crowded into one building for the next billion years could never create anything so fine, so complex, so beautiful, so self-sufficient, or so alive as a fish with a command system anywhere near as small as that famous “pea-sized brain.”
But craftsmen huddled in garages and basements can produce plugs. And they’ve been doing just that for hundreds of years. In that time you could say we’ve made a few improvements. But, when you look really close at the dynamics of triggering fish, you could just as easily conclude that most things new are just window dressing. And everything old comes back into style, at some point. This is a list of lures effective not just for one species of fish, but for all or at least many of the predators found in the aquatic world. This is a list of history’s greatest fishing lure types, not because I say so, but because history proves it so. Longevity, in itself, is proof enough for me. After several decades, if a lure is still being sought by anglers and still effectively triggering multiple species of fish, it belongs on this list. Let me know if I missed one. Or two, of the best fishing lures in history.
- Archeological evidence suggests Native Americans polished mollusk shells and attached bone hooks to them to troll for trout from canoes. The idea is older than we know, but how did we come to call it a spoon? A story almost 200 years old has it that JT Buel of East Poultney, Vermont, was eating lunch while fishing on Lake Bomosheen when his boat bumped a rock, causing him to drop a spoon in the water. As he watched it flutter to bottom, the idea for the Buel Spoon was born. This was around 1820. According to the tale, he raced home, fashioned a lure from another piece of silverware, went back to the lake, and caught a large trout that he paraded down main street in nearby Castleton. The rest is history. Today manufacturers fashion thin spoons for trolling on downriggers, thick ones for casting, and spoons of moderate thickness that can do both. I don't know about you, but I never: Go to Canada without a Dardevle Husky Jr.; Fish the surf around tributaries of the Great Lakes without an Acme Little Cleo; Or go trolling for lakers without a few Williams Whitefish on board. The flutter, flash, and thump of a spoon operating at the optimum speed for its design has triggered enough fish over the millenia for us to safely say it will always catch fish and belongs on anybody's list of critical survival gear.