Vintage MANN's back patch circa early 1970s. This patch measures 10 inches by 6 inches. Photo Terry Battisti.

There are times in your life you do stupid things for one reason or another. Maybe it’s no fear of death, maybe it’s disregard. On the other hand, it could be due to ignorance or pride. I say pride because that’s what kept me from collecting patches as a youth unless I earned the patch or it was just handed to me.

For example, the only patches I had in my possession, until about 10 years ago, were the ones I’d received for fishing tournaments or were given to me. It’s not like I didn’t have the chance, heck, I worked at a tackle shop through all my youth, young adulthood, and had ample opportunity to collect – I just never did.  Patches were meant to be placed on a shirt or jacket, not collected.

So, back in the ‘70s, when jumpsuits and bass jackets were in vogue, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear one.  I thought they were goofy. Secondly, one of the anglers I looked up to the most said “you don’t wear patches unless someone is paying you.”  That comment stuck with me the longest and to this day a company has to be pretty special to me to fly their colors.

But, looking back, what a moron I was. It never dawned on me I could collect and just hold on to them. Hindsight is……you know the rest.

Now, as a worn out 50-plus-year-old running a website on the history of bass fishing, I kick myself in the keister daily for not collecting more patches in my youth. Daily folks….and I have the bruises to prove it.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get through my first 30 years without any patches.  I just didn’t openly seek them out or buy them.  If they came with a lure promotion, I saved them.  If they were given to me at a tackle show, I saved them.  If the local tackle rep gave me one, I saved it.  I think I got out of my 30s with probably over 100 patches that were never sewn on any article of clothing.

Now, as I approach the age of 60, I’ve become the ultimate patch pirate.  I search them out everywhere I can.  Online, antique stores, flea markets, garage sales, you name it. As a result, my patch collection has swelled.

So, today I figured I’d share a few of bass tackle patches I really like and maybe take a ride down memory lane with respect to the companies that put these patches out.  These are a few of my favorites.

To start off, we have a MANN’s Bait Company back patch.  Until recently I had one of these patches, but it’s sewn on the back of a long-sleeved shirt and the patch isn’t in the best shape.  The patch in the image, though, came from my buddy Jeff Haines, the gentleman who’s been contributing to the site by sharing pictures of his Bassmaster Trail patches.  This is an awesome patch in more ways than one.

First, the patch is in pristine shape.  Second, back patches were a big deal back in the late 1960s and early ‘70s and MANN’s had a couple of different ones.  The third thing is not that many were made, compared to the standard 4-inch patch.  And the last is you’d never get away with having an Indian as your logo in this day and age – even if you were Cherokee, like Tom Mann was.

Bagley's Better Baits Patches circa late 1980s and 1990s. Photo Terry Battisti.
Burke Fishing Lures back patch circa late 1960s to early 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.

The next set of patches come from Bagley.  At the top is a fairly new Bagley’s back patch – circa 1990.  Below that patch and to the right is a Bagley’s Better Baits patch. This patch I would date back to the mid-‘70s.  It’s a simple patch but one that anyone serious about bass fishing for 30 years or more will easily recognize.  The size of the patch is about 3-inches by 5-inches – about the size of most patches we’ve always seen.

The patches to the left look like they are the same, but they aren’t.  The one to the left probably comes from the late 1980s and has a typo.  It’s missing the T in Treasured.  I have looked at this patch under a microscope and the T was never there.  The patch in the right center is most likely mid-1990s as it was not embroidered in the old way and the back is covered in hot glue to set the threads.

The third image is a patch from one of the biggest tackle companies of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s – Burke Fishing Lures.  I can’t say I ever threw one of their baits, but they sponsored one of the biggest names of all time in bass fishing for a few years, none other than Bill Dance. The size of this patch is pretty big at 6-inches by 8-inches and would also be considered a back patch.

Cotton Cordell Lunker Spot Award. Circa 1970s.

The fourth image is a Cordell Lunker Spot Award patch that a friend of mine won for catching a big fish on a Cordell Spot.  I’m sure if Cotton Cordell was still around, he’d have a big smile on his face if he saw this patch.  The size of this patch is about 3-inches by 3-inches and probably dates back to the mid- ‘70s.

Lew Childre Patches circa 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.

The next set of patches in the lineup is from Lew Childre.  The back patch is a USA Research Fisheman patch and is about 8 inches in width and 5 inches tall.  Lew’s at the time of this patch had moved on from Shimano dating the patch to sometime after 1977.  The bottom two patches look the same but are very different.  The patch on the right is the smaller version of the back patch where the patch on the left is pre-1977 when Lew’s was still workin with Shimano to produce the Speed Spool.  Of course all these patches have FUJI on them.

Fenwick Patches circa 1960s and 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.

Let’s move on to a couple of rod patches.  Skyline Graphite was one of the first companies to give Fenwick a run for their money in the graphite rod industry.  This patch dates back to around 1975/76.  Skyline made some great rods but they seemed to fizzle out by the 1980s.

The next company is one you all should recognize as one of the best rod makers ever – Gary Loomis.  But this is Loomis Composites Inc., the company Gary started before starting GLoomis.

Skyline Graphite and Loomis Composites Inc. rod patches circa 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.

Loomis started LCI right after leaving Lamiglass to try his concepts out on blank manufacturing.  His concepts were ground breaking in the rod industry and his technology is still cutting edge.  LCI was around for about 3 years before he rebranded and started GLoomis.

I can’t mention Fenwick without sharing a few of their patches too.  The next image has three patches, all predating 1980.  The patch at the top was from the late 1960s or maybe the early 1970s.  The next two patches, “I’m a Fenwick Man” and “I’m a Fenwick Gal” are vintage 1974 through the late 1970s.  The patch on the lower left I have had since I was 10 years old and it came with the blank that I bought with Christmas money.

Garcia and ABU-Garcia Patches circa 1960s to 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.

The next string of patches are all from Garcia.  The Garcia back patch is about 8 inches long and 3 inches high.  All of these patches date back to the 1960s and 1970s.  The same can be said of the second image on their dates.  The only patch I am sure of the date is the Garcia Ambassadeur Fast Cast patch.  That patch came out in 1977 when Garcia unveiled the first Thumbar reel to the masses, the 5600C.

Garcia and ABU-Garcia Patches circa 1960s to 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.

Finally, the last batch of patches I’ll share is a set that you would have seen on nearly every bass fishing vest or jumpsuit in the ‘70s and ‘80s – the Rebel Lures patch.  Each of these patches came from the late 1960s and early 1970s.  What I like about these is they are all different. 

The upper two patches measures 2-inches by 4 1/2-inches and were made by Plastic Research and Development Company, before they were the PRADCO we know today.  No one back in the day ever referred to the company as PRADCO, though, they just said Rebel.  There were a lot of early tournaments won on Rebel Lures and their original P70 Pop-R is still one of the best topwater lures ever made.

That’s about it for today.  I have a ton more patches to share, and I’ll be getting to those sometime in the future.  In the meantime, if you’ve got any patches you’d like to share with us, hit us up through the comment section below and we’ll get back with you!

Rebel Lures patches circa early 1970s. Photo Terry Battisti.