A couple months ago we posted a piece on the 1970 Cotton Cordell catalog. Today in Cotton Cordell Pre-1973, we’re looking at another catalog, this time with an unknown date. First off I’d like to thank Bass Fishing Archives supporter, Robert Farrar, for loaning this catalog to us to scan. He loaned us several Cordell catalogs to share, and this is just another example of his generosity.
Let’s get on to this catalog.
The date of the catalog is somewhere after 1970, to be certain. It’s possible that it’s a 1971 or 1972 catalog because in the 1970 catalog previously mentioned, the Floating Hot Spot is referred to as being new for that year. In this catalog, it’s not mentioned as being new.
We also know that the catalog can’t be much after 1973 because there is no Big-O referenced. Cordell licensed the Big-O in 1973, so it’s difficult to say whether the bait got into the 1973 catalog, since most catalogs are printed in the fall of the year prior.
It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to date catalogs from the tackle industry. Such a simple concept seems to have been ignored not just by Cordell, but by all the tackle companies. But I guess that’s just one other things that makes this hobby so interesting.
The cover of this catalog definitely places it in the early 1970s with that “hippie” vibe of the day. The “flower-child” artwork on the font used for Cordell screams Volkswagon Mini Bus The manner in which the fish are painted has a folksy feel to it, Cotton was definitely influenced by the time.
Turning the page, you’re greeted with Th’ Spot, probably the most famous of Cordell’s baits. At this point in time, Cordell offered five different sizes of the bait from 1/4- to 1-ounce in 23 standard colors. Th’ Spot was also being made at this time with the single rattle or, one-knocker, which was a mistake from earlier runs that stuck.
Rumor was that anglers noticed some Spots make a rattling sound because the glue used to secure the ballast weight had not worked as designed. These “mistakes” gave a sound and anglers privy to this would scour tackle store shelves looking for the ones that made noise. Word got back to Cordell and they started making the baits without the glue.
Page three of the catalog featured the Floating Spot, introduced in 1970. This bait floated on the surface when cast but would dive to 2-3 feet when reeled. Another apparent attribute of the bait was it suspended when stopped. At least that’s how I read the description. The bait came in two sizes, 1/3- and 3/4-ounce, and was offered in 19 different color combinations.
The next bait in the line-up was the Red Fin, another iconic lure produced by Cordell. It may not have been as pretty as a Rapala Minnow or the Rebel Amazing Minnow but this bait sure did catch fish. So much so that PRADCO still lists it in its inventory. In this catalog, Cordell lists that bait in three sizes, 1/4-, 3/8-, and 5/8-ounce, and 35 colors.
This bait would gain a cult following in the 1980s and 1990s when the cat was let out of the bag on how good this bait was as a wake bait, after a modification. I believe it was written in an early 1980s Bassmaster where one pro showed how to heat the bill at the junction with the body and bend it down almost to where it was perpendicular to the body. This modification wouldn’t allow the bait to dive but on a slow retrieve would create a wake on the surface.
For the crankbait enthusiast, page five had a bait Cordell called the Huncho. This bait, without a doubt, was meant to compete with Rebel’s Humpy and Norman’s Little Scooper. It came in two sizes, 1/4- and 3/8-ounce, and 37 colors. I’ve never thrown this bait but have some originals still in the box. Looking at the baits I have, the seams are very rough and it doesn’t look like much in terms of quality. But then I think of how bad the original Wiggle Wart looked and remind myself not to judge a bait on looks alone.
If topwater is your deal, the next page will get your blood moving. This page was reserved for the Boy Howdy and its two styles and two sizes. The 4000 and 4200 series baits were tail weighted and stood on end when at rest. A couple quick jerks with the rod tip and the bait would walk like a spook.
The 4100 and 4300 series came with fore and aft props and were worked like any prop bait. Both styles came in two sizes, 3/8- and 5/8-ounce and were offered in 34 colors. As a kid I threw both of these versions and caught a lot of fish on them. Then, as time went on and new baits were introduced, I moved away from the Boy Howdy. I’m sure it still works as PRADCO still has them in their line-up.
The Super Shad and Super Shad ST are featured on the following page. It’s a bit confusing at first when you compare the Rigid Super Shad of 1970 with the Super Shad ST. At first they look the same but reading both descriptions, you realize the Rigid Super Shad is molded of rigid plastic and the Super Shad ST appears to be made of lead. If this is the case, the ST version is just another tail spinner like the Mann’s Little George or Pedigo Spin Rite. Since the Rigid Super Shad isn’t in this catalog, I assume it didn’t make the cut after only one year on the market.
Next up was the Cordell Crazy Shad, another bait that PRADCO still carries. Like the Boy Howdy, this bait same in two styles, a tail-weighted model and a dual prop version. The difference was in the length and body diameters, the Crazy Shad being a lot fatter in girth. The lure was offered in two sizes, 3/8- and 1/2-ounce and 34 colors.
Moving on to page 10 we get into a bait I’ve always wondered about. Not because it doesn’t look like it would catch fish, but because of the name it was given. Think about it, Cotton’s Crab? Maybe my mind is a mess, but I’d have named it something else. Maybe Cotton’s Crawdad?
This bait was a reaction to the original Bomber, the first true deep diving lure manufactured. Cotton’s Crab came in one size, 1/2-ounce, and 12 colors.
In the line of vibration baits, Cordell didn’t stop with Th’ Spot. He also sold a blade bait called the Gay Blade and another by the name of the Swimming Shad. It’s said that the Gay Blade, and the Red Fin, was designed by J. C. Boucher of Tyler, Texas and that Cordell bought the rights to each lure.
The Swimming Shad, on the other hand, was pretty much a direct copy, outwardly speaking, of the A.D. Manufacturing Bayou Boogie, later bought out by Whopper Stopper.
The next four pages and the back cover feature jig heads, spinnerbaits, crappie jigs and even a pistol grip and power handle. But there is one jighead that I want to discuss here. Specifically a jighead on page 13 called the Crazy Head.
Looking at this head reminds me of one thing. Charlie Brewer’s Slider Head. The Cordell Crazy Head has a gold Aberdeen hook and the hook eye extends quite far from the head itself, just like Charlie Brewer’s. Even the picture of how to rig a plastic worm on the head is akin to Brewer’s method. The piece de resistance is the name of the head, which is the actual name of Brewer’s company, The Crazy Head Lure Company.
Now I don’t know exactly when Brewer’s company started but I’m certain that it was around this exact time. So, the question goes to who stole from who? Or, did they not even know about each other? I find it a bit ironic, though, since Nashville and Hot Springs aren’t too far from each other.
Oh, and yet there’s another bit of controversy I found in this catalog. It is widely accepted that Virgil Ward invented the weedless brush guard made out of nylon, although I haven’t been able to find the patent. While digging for patents a while back, I discovered a patent that was filed and awarded to Cordell for the exact thing. The patent was filed in 1962 and awarded in 1965. Nowhere in the patent is mention of Ward’s patent, which would have had to have been listed to show differences between this filing and Ward’s. I’ve listed the patent in the gallery below.
That’s about all I have for this catalog. If you’re interested in looking through the entire book, please check out the gallery below. Click on the first image and use the arrows to scroll page by page.
Again, I’d like to thank Robert Farrar for his generosity in loaning the catalog to us. If any of you out there have catalogs you’d like to share, please let us know in the comment section below.