While the bass fishing world fell in love with the Rapala minnow lure, courtesy Laurie Rapala, another Finnish bait designer was making his mark at around the same time. Walter Lindquist Sr. emigrated from Helsinki, Finland to Canada and began developing a bait to match the pride he felt for his new country. What he came up with was the Canadian Wiggler, since 1945 a lure that has stood the test of time and has brought an impossible number of largemouth and smallmouth bass – and a heckuva lot of other species – to the landing net.
My interest in the Canadian Wiggler was rekindled after my father passed away and I was rummaging through his old tackle boxes. They contained a few Canadian Wigglers, and I recalled how my Dad would use them when fishing for Lake Michigan salmon and trout and then again for smallmouth bass on northern Wisconsin lakes and rivers. So, I did a quick online search and discovered that the company, Lindquist Bros. Bait Company, was still in business!
It seemed odd to me that this curved, diving plug wasn’t more widely known or discussed in bass fishing circles outside of the Midwest and Canada. After all, it had an enviable track record and was highly effective at catching just about everything from bass to pike to walleye to salmon.
The Canadian Wiggler is a lure that can be found in the tackle boxes of just about every traditional bass and walleye angler (read “old timer”) in the north country. Somewhat reminiscent of a cross between a bulbous Lazy Ike and a curved Bass-Oreno, the Wiggler is also unique in that it’s not made from carved wood or plastic. Lindquist Sr. worked at the Ford Motor Company in Windsor, Ontario, and he put his mechanical skills to good use by developing a lure made entirely from hollowed brass.
Obsessed with crafting a one-of-a-kind fish-catching bait, Lindquist spent countless hours in his basement workshop perfecting his lure. Once he had developed an effective bait and saw that it caught fish, he went into business in the mid-1940s with his younger brother Arnold, and his sons, which included Walter Lindquist Jr.
I emailed the company and ordered a number of Canadian Wigglers and struck up a dialogue with the current President, Walter W. Lindquist, the grandson of Walter Lindquist Sr. Walter told me that it was a little confusing and comical when he worked at the company as a young man and someone would call asking to “speak with Walter” and his grandfather and father, Walter Lindquist Jr., were still alive and working at the company.
Now under the ownership of Walter and his sister Julie, Lindquist Bros. Bait Company has been a part of Canadian and American Heritage for around 73 years, producing Legacy Brand products. The Canadian Wiggler is the world’s only hollow brass fishing lure. It’s also a heckuva bass catching bait.
Since I received my order, I’ve taken them out on the water with me several times and have had good success hooking a number of largemouth. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try them on smallmouth, as I remember my Dad fishing with them, but doubtless they’re just as effective for smallies as they’ve always been. Given that smallmouth bass are more prevalent in Canada and the Midwest of the United States it makes sense that the Canadian Wiggler would become more widely known as an effective lure for smallies. The company offers a lot of different color combinations, but I’ve had especially good luck throwing the Wiggler in the traditional red head/white body pattern.
Walter told me that during production, the hollow brass lure goes through three primary steps: a blank & form process, followed by trimming, and finally a curling process. Then the eyelets are welded in place and seams welded shut. I noticed that the lures I received had weight attached to the center of their front treble hook. I asked Walter about it. “The newer versions go through an injection mold process,” he replied, “and that weighted treble hook on the belly is there to enhance the lure’s swimming action.” Each lure is hand painted and tank tested to ensure that its action is consistent and that it runs true and tracks straight. That’s a lot of production steps and quality control, something you’d expect from a long-standing company with a rich history.
Company ads and literature declare that the Canadian Wiggler catches just about every species of fish that swims, and I have no doubt that’s true. But in the history of their advertising, they gave special notice to bass fishing, with graphics that highlighted our favorite bucket-mouth fish. Catalog covers from the late 1960s and early 1970s show renderings of leaping bass with Canadian Wigglers firmly hooked in their jaws or bass about to hit a passing Wiggler. This was probably just good marketing as it coincided with the rising popularity of bass fishing tournaments in America.
Walter concluded, “I guess over the years, our lures have truly withstood the test of time. It’s all about producing a quality fish-catching lure, with proven success, from the early days to today and beyond.”
Canadian Wigglers are sold in a variety of sizes and weights, and the company has worldwide sales. Like I alluded to earlier, it’s curious to me that the Canadian Wiggler, a lure that’s been on the market for more than 70 years, may be one of bass fishing’s best kept secrets.
Outstanding article again David! Enjoyed the read and history of the lure I remember in my dads tackle box.
And I thought “Canadian Wigglers” were large, juicy nightcrawlers! Great, informative post, David …..
Me too Mike!