Two days ago, we published the 1975 Bomber Bait Catalog and today we’re going to continue with the Bomber theme.  In Bomber Baits 1980/81 catalog, we’re going to step forward five years and see how the product line changed – and boy had it changed over half a decade.  Not only do we have the amazing all-color catalog, we have a loose leaflet for a new bait as well as the Jobber Price List.

Let’s move on to the catalog.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that the old-style cover was no longer in use.  The catalog was still made from multiple sheets of 17-inch by 11-inch glossy paper, folded on the long side to make the catalog 8-1/2-inches by 11-inches.  But the old-school artwork was replaced by a more modern image of all their tackle and the word BOMBER emblazoned at the top of the page.  It’s an eye-catching cover for sure.

The next big difference you’ll see is on the first page.  No longer did Bomber Bait Company reserve this spot for their namesake lure, the original Bomber.  Instead, the company gave the limelight to the Model A crankbait, a bait that had made a big impact in its short life.

The Model A was offered in 8 sizes and five different diving depths – shallow, medium, deep, extra deep, and a countdown model.  The sizes most popular to the bass angler being the deep runners in 5A, 6A, and the 7A.  If that seems like a of baits for one series, wait until you count the number of colors offered.  It was a mind-staggering 45 stock colors.

Next in the lineup was the Long “A” – which I’ll venture to say is one of the best jerkbaits ever designed.  At this point in time, the Long “A” came in three sizes, the 13A, 14A, and 15A – the latter being the most popular amongst bass anglers.

Looking at the color chart, you’ll see 29 different stock colors.  Over the years I’ve found myself relying on Bone (BN), Tennessee Shad (TN), Silver Flash (SI), and Silver Flash Orange Belly (SIO).  What isn’t shown here are the hundreds of custom colors, some of which turned into stock colors over time.

1980-81 Bomber Catalog and Price List Page 1

This bait wasn’t just a bass bait, as walleye anglers found them just as effective and the clownish colors they custom ordered are the ones sought after today by collectors and anglers who still use them.  In fact, during my jerkbait schooling in Michigan, my mentor put me onto at least a half dozen walleye colors that have produced bass and lots of them since the mid-1980s.

Turning the page, we finally get to the original Bomber.  At this point in time, they still offered all six models, but their colors had changed up quite a bit.  They’d either dropped several colors from the lineup or didn’t include them in the catalog.  In place of those colors, they had 15 photo print colors.  If you remember, this was the time when realistic finishes were gaining some ground in the industry, although I have to say I never did that well on them.

The next page featured the Pinfish in three different sizes and 34 different colors.  One thing I noticed about the color charts for this bait and the one prior is the inclusion of the Metachrome colors in the standard color chart.  By this time I’m sure Bomber had figured out which of those colors sold and discontinued the ones that didn’t.  I imagine the process for plating the baits was pricy and why make colors that would have multiple birthdays before being sold.

Pages 9-10 featured the Speed Shad in all it’s glory.  As we’ve talked about before, this bait was most likely made to compete with the Storm Thin Fin and would eventually lead to other flat-sided crankbaits such as the Megabass Flap Slap.  If you find yourself going to Kerr Lake or Gaston lake on the Virginia/North Carolina border, I suggest you target eBay and get some Speed Shads for the trip.  It’s still arguably one of the best cranks on those bodies of water.

Next is another of the old Bomber standbys, the Bomber Waterdog.  Still offered in three sizes, it surprised me to see that since 1975 Bomber had increased the color lineup from 33 to 41 colors.  By this time, the Hellbender and Waterdog days were numbered due to the success of the Alphabet baits and the new deep divers such as the Model A, Bagley’s Divin’ B, and Norman Deep Little N.

1980-81 Bomber Catalog and Price List Page 3

The Bush Whacker Spinnerbait selection in the 1980/81 catalog has increased in size with the edition of the Mini Whacker in 1/8-oz and 1/6-oz.  Since 1975, Bomber had discontinued selling the hackle wrapped skirts, but they still stuck with the stiff vinyl instead of moving to latex rubber like 99% of the industry had gone to.  Also notice that Bomber was still rigging the skirts straight instead of backwards.

Then I turned to page 15 and two things caught my eye.  The Paddle Whacker buzzbait and the Pro-Whacker spinnerbait.  These baits were rigged with rubber skirts that were put on backwards, as was the standard.  The Paddle Whacker came in two sizes, 1/4-oz and 5/8-oz and had good sized hooks to boot.  That was a rarity back in those days.

1980-81 Bomber Catalog and Price List Page 9
1980-81 Bomber Catalog and Price List Page 15

The Pro-Whacker spinnerbait looked to have a different head design than the original Bush Whacker plus it also had the rubber skirt and a trailer hook.

Page 16 featured the Slab Spoon and evidently, they’d realized they had a winner here because they added two more sizes in 1-3/4-oz and 2-1/2-oz.  Not only did they add the two new sizes, they started offering photo finishes too.

The next page had another old standby, the Gumpy Jig, and below that it’s evident they’d decided to get into the tail spin market with the Bomber Spinner Minnow.  The Spinner minnow had a different body than the comparable Little George or Pedigo Spinrite.  Bomber’s bait looks as if it was a fuel tank for a fighter jet.  The bait was made from lead with an ABS plastic covering.  It’s a good looking tail spin.

From the next page, you get the idea that Bomber was as interested in selling baits to the saltwater crowd as they were the bass angler.  The Flare Hair Jig and Flare Hair Spinner were probably made to target the saltwater and striper angler.  A basic hair jig with a plastic worm trailer with the option of a Beetle Spin style spinner arm.  The bait was made in two sizes, 1/4-oz and 1/2-oz.

The following two pages featured the Bomber Popper, and the Spinstick and Stick.  Three baits that had stood the test of time but due to their relegation to the back of the book, may have been on the shortlist to go.

Page 21 also showcased two other old-time Bomber baits, the Jerk and the Jig, which was now named the Salt Water Jig.  This is the first time I’d actually seen a picture of the Jerk rather than an artist’s rendering.

1980-81 Bomber Catalog and Price List Page 17

The last page, or the inside back cover, featured what Bomber was touting as “Striper Alley.”  Essentially it was Bomber’s way of showing the prospective buyer what they suggested for use on stripers.

The back cover of the catalog was reserved for one of the most respected anglers of the day, Floyd Mabry.  Floyds exploits were known all over Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  His image appeared in Bomber ads for years in all the major bass magazines.  I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bill Dance and he said Mabry was one of the best anglers he’d ever seen.  That says a lot about Mabry.

But the back cover isn’t all I have to share with you today.  Within this catalog was a leaflet introducing their new Smilin’ Minnow as well as a 1980-81 Jobber Price List.

The loose leaflet for the Smilin’ Minnow wasn’t much to look at.  Printed in black and white, it featured four baits as well as their respective SKUs.  In the description, Bomber stated that the bait was designed to imitate nature’s small fingerling minnows, much like Bagley and other companies were doing at the time.  We’ll get to see a better representation when we delve into the 1981/82 catalog I’ll be posting soon.

What I feel is the most interesting thing about the catalog was the Jobber’s Price List.  Of course the prices take us back to the good old days but there’s a lot more to it than that.  For example, the Smilin’ Minnow is called the Minno “A”.  Another anomaly is in the Long “A” section where they offer the 16A and the 17A, along with the others in the catalog.  When did the 16A and the 17A come out?

The price list also has the Bomberette, which was absent from the catalog.  Also missing in action in the catalog was the Bomber Sports Lube.  But its in the price list.  If any of you Bomber experts out there have any idea about these questions, please leave a comment below.

1980-81 Bomber Catalog and Price List Back Cover

I hope you enjoyed looking back at this 42-year-old catalog.  Soon I’ll have the 1981/82 catalog posted.

To view the entire catalog, please see the gallery below.  Click on the first image and use the arrows to scroll through the entire gallery.


Gallery – Bomber Baits 1980/81 Catalog