Eric Fare ad from the March 1958 issue of The Fisherman magazine.

Few ads in the 1950s are as ubiquitous as this one from the March 1958 issue of The Fisherman magazine.  It appeared again and again in the many outdoor magazines that I was privy to in the 1950s and early 1960s.  As this ad has been discussed on several forums, it has become obvious that a lot of young teenage boys (including myself) were mesmerized by Mr. Eric Fare’s polished sales job and assurances that we would be hauling in the big ones from any available water as soon as we learned his “secret method.”  We were assured in the ad that “there is no charge for this information.”  I guess we skipped over the part about the “money back guarantee.”

In any case, I (and apparently a lot of others) sent off for this “free” information only to find out that the cost was $15.  Apparently, someone took umbrage at this sleight-of-hand as Eric Fare, aka Eric McNair, got into trouble with the U. S. Post Office and agreed to stop making certain claims in his ad.

I agonized for weeks and finally decided that by using my only method of raising capital (mowing lawns at one dollar a piece) it would take me a long time to come up with $15.  After a while I received a second letter from Eric explaining that some folks had returned his “information and lure” and that these slightly used packages could be had for $7.50.  Still too much for my budget.

Complete mailing tube the Eric Fare lure and instructions were mailed in. Photo Bill Sonnett.
The arrowhead spinner that came with the Eric Fare bass fishing kit. Photo Bill Sonnett.

Not too long ago on the Internet, someone found and put up for sale a complete Eric Fare kit in its original mailing tube.  Curiosity got the best of me, and I bought it.  Now, only 65 years later, I was going to find out the “secrets” that had eluded me as a 14-year-old.  I must admit that the 24-page typewritten document was interesting, but it simply described (in almost tedious detail) the old-time method of “skittering” for bass with a 15 ft cane pole rigged with 12 inches of line and using the “arrowhead” type spinner that was included in the kit.

My immediate thought upon reading all of this was, “how much fun can it be landing a lunker bass with a 15-foot cane pole with 12 inches of line between the end of the pole and the lure?” My friend Clyde Drury in his lifetime work, Books of the Black Bass, has some interesting comments on Eric Fare and his “secret” method, but the one I like best is, “A good friend of mine once said that this method is as effective as a stick of dynamite, but it is also just as sporting.”

To read more of “Wild” Bill Sonnett’s works, please click on this link.