Here’s a great old Bill Norman Lures ad from 1977. It’s obvious they’re touting the N-series crankbaits with three of the series in the ad as well as the word “Little” placed within the “N” of No. 1. But there was also no way they could leave out the Redman spinnerbait – especially after Jimmy Houston had just won the Bassmaster AOY. Looking deeper into the ad we also see a bunch of other cool historical things.
Front and center, of course, is a young Jimmy Houston (wearing a hat!) with a stout limit of fish. One of the interesting things about the ad is Jimmy’s boat. Note the first-generation Bill Norman Lures “wrap.” Looks as if Jimmy took his boat to a kindergarten finger painting class and let the little buggers go at it. But at least whoever painted that on his boat, got the spelling right – unlike the text just above the boat.
The other anglers featured in the ad are Woo Daves (what a head of hair!) who won a boat at the American Bass Fisherman Grand Prix on a Little N. Daves had already fished nine Bassmaster events and had a win on Kerr Reservoir in 1975, which qualified him for the 1975 Bassmaster Classic. It was stated in the ad that Woo Daves was on the Bill Norman Lures Fishing Team.
Next in the list of Norman anglers is Gerry Kennedy. Kennedy had recently won the 1976 BCA Grand National tournament, which was BCA’s equivalent of the Bass Master Classic. The ad states that Kennedy was a Bill Norman Lures Field Tester.
Roger Mhoon made the fourth angler in the ad. Mhoon, had recently won the International Bass Association’s Angler of the Year award and was a Bill Norman Staff Fisherman.
One of the things that got my attention about this ad is Norman was one of the final oldschool independent companies to be bought out by a large conglomerate, in this case PRADCO. PRADCO, which stands for Plastics Research and Development Company, bought Norman Lures in 2015. You can read about the purchase on Bassmaster.com.
Over the years, PRADCO has grown from their humble beginnings as the makers of Rebel Lures to owning such companies as Heddon, Smithwick, Creek Chub and Bomber. The acquisition of Norman Lures was sad for many of us who grew up with them all those years ago.
If you look at Norman Lures, they’ve been around since the early 60s and they (PRADCO) still arguably make some of the best crankbaits ever made. Their Little N series of baits is still a standard in every angler’s tackle box and their “late comer” the DD22 is a bait that no serious cranker leaves home without.
Not only is Norman still making exceptional crankbaits and other lures, the nice thing is you can still buy them for about the same price you paid for them in the 80s. I just wish they’d bring back some of the older colors and baits that were proven fish-catchers – like the Redman spinnerbait and the Triple Wing Buzzbait. Hint hint.