The Bass Fishing Darwin Awards

A week or so ago we posted a couple of stories about crazy handle designs (here, here and here) that had good intention but totally failed in functionality. That got me thinking about other screwy products that people have come up with over the years to help anglers catch fish – or more so, make them money.

One of the craziest ideas ever to come out was the Roland Martin-backed Helicopter Lure. Another would be the Ron Popeil Pocket Fisherman. Both are obvious entries for a Darwin-esque fishing award.

The fishing industry has and always will be fraught with snake-oil salesmen selling a gimmick to anyone who has a dollar in their pocket and/or knows little about fishing. Take a dive back into the old magazines of the 1920s through the 90s and you’re bound to see examples of baits they claim would become illegal once the DNR finds out how many fish it will catch.

Gimmick lures and tackle are so fun to look at we’re doing a series on them. And, if you have a favorite gimmick lure we don’t cover here today, let us know in the comments section and we’ll get it posted.  Below are some good ones readers have sent in for us to cover already.


The Hover Lure – Submitted by RichZ

The Hover Lure, entrant 1 for the Bass Fishing Darwin Awards.

Here’s a dandy – the Hover Lure. Everyone knows bass eat dragon flies, so why not develop a lure to mimic one of them? Well, the folks at Hover Lure decided to tap that market. Not only did they make a bait that quite remarkably resembles a dragon fly, they even included a lily pad mounting system – making it really lifelike, assuming the only place you fish is around lily pads.

Other than the goofy design, there are two design flaws associated with the lure. One is the hook. If you look at the hook, it appears that the lure was made with a fine-wire hook that no one in their right mind would fish in pad-filled cover – or any cover for that matter.

The second design flaw is the line tie. Look at the photo. You’ll notice that the line is fed through a “guide” at the front of the pad and then tied onto the hook above it. Looking at the “guide” it appears that it’s just made from plastic. I wonder how long that’ll take to wear a groove in.

After spending a bit of time on the website to get an idea of how this thing works and if the design flaws had been addressed, I was interested in seeing how the lure behaved after a fish was hooked. Did it stay intact or come apart, which might address the line problem.

What I found are a bunch of videos of the lure in action. Unfortunately, they only show big fish eating the bait – no fighting the fish or even boating one of them. This makes me wonder, do they ever get these fish in? Did the hook straighten out or the line break due to the angle from the “guide” to the hook eye?

I also found it strange that the videos all seemed to have been shot in the same little area. Also, they’re not wide-angle shots that show the lake shore or give the viewer an idea of what kind of water body the angler is fishing. In fact, the way the videos are shot, I wouldn’t be surprised that they were shot in a small backyard pond where the fish haven’t been fed in months.

It’s no wonder you don’t see the Hover Lure on the tour circuit. Good idea but badly engineered will always get you on the Darwin Award list!


Fisherman Joe’s Swim-n-Lure – Submitted by Jeff Hahn

Fisherman Joe's Swin-n-Lure., entrant 2 for the Bass Fishing Darwin Awards.

Here’s a beauty, Fisherman Joe’s Swim-n-Lure. Most of us probably remember the old submarines that you put baking soda in and its reaction with water would cause the sub to sink and float. Well, in the 1950s and 60s toy maker Robert Strickland of Canoga Park, CA decided to capitalize on that technology and make a fishing lure propelled by the same chemical concoction. Hence, the Swim-n-Lure.

The lure had holes in its top and bottom to allow gas to escape and make it act “erratically” in the water. Did it float or sink? I have no clue. One problem with it I can see right off is that baking soda and water don’t react fast at all. In fact, you need a slightly acidic solution for baking soda to give off gas – most fish don’t like acidic water.

Back to the submarine toy, I remember waiting and waiting for that crazy thing to dive and surface. Imagine throwing this bait out and waiting and waiting for something to happen. I imagine there’d be more action imparted on the lure from boat wakes and wind.

The other thing I thought about was this “bait” has nothing in it that would make it have any sort of action in the water – for crying out loud, it looks like a casting weight, or small grenade.


The Lock Lizard – Submitted by Jay Davis

The Lock Lizard, entrant 3 for the Bass Fishing Darwin Awards.

Lure gimmicks aren’t just a thing of the past and the Lock Lizard proves that. Until Jay sent in his submission I’d never heard of the bait, and now I’m a bit bummed that 20 minutes of my life was wasted looking it up and listening to the sales pitch and watching a couple videos.

The Lock Lizard is a topwater bait that is supposed to mimic a lizard swimming on the water. It’s a two-piece bait, jointed between the front and rear legs, and features a single #4 treble hook on the back end of the bait.

Watching the blurry videos on YouTube, you see the angler imparting a walk-the-lizard action to the bait and big bass coming from the abyss to eat it up. There are a couple of goofy things with the videos, though. One, you never actually see a bass eat the bait –it’s either too far out to decipher whether it’s a Lock Lizard being used, or you just see the angler set the hook. It also appears that the videos were filmed on a farm pond – another canned presentation using fish that might rarely see a lure. One thing for sure is every fish they bring over the gunwale has the Lock Lizard impaled in its craw.

Will it work? I’m sure it will – people catch fish on cigarette butts and hot dogs for crying out loud. Is it the new Chatterbait or Spook? I highly doubt it. Again, how many pros have you seen throwing this thing? And I don’t mean Roland Martin or Bill Dance.

So, here are three crazy baits in contention for the Darwin Award of bass fishing. If you have something to add, please comment below and we’ll continue adding to the list of crazy ideas!