1976 Zebco Z-Spin spinnerbait ad.

In today’s post, Garcia and Zebco Baits, we’ll take a dive into a couple rod and reel companies that decided to venture over into the bait business in the early 1970s.  Over the course of time, especially in the early 1900s, many companies not only made lures but rods and reels too. Heddon is a good example of this, marketing not only their famous lures but also rods, reels and lines. Pflueger, Southbend and Shakespeare did the same. But as bass fishing came into its own in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, more companies moved away from multi-tasking and stuck with their bread-and-butter, concentrating on rods, reels or tackle.

Hence this short piece on the industry in the mid-70s.  Here we have two ads from two of the major rod and reel companies of all time, Zebco and Garcia. The problem is they’re not ads for rods or reels. Instead, they’re ads for bass lures they’re trying to get you to buy.

It’s easy to guess why the Zero-Hour Bomb Company is trying to sell you spinnerbaits at this time. By 1976 the lowly spinnerbait had won all but one Bassmaster Classic and you can bet your supply of Jack Hammers that Zebco was gonna try and profit from that.

Looking at the spinnerbait, it seems to be a decent bait and I wonder if Zebco tried to get into any of the other lure genres or if they found that the lure business wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

The other company in question is Garcia.  By this time, Garcia was the major player when it came to reels and rods.  But they had also been manufacturing baits for many years too.  In fact, looking back through my 1965 to 1978 Garcia Annual catalogs, you see no less than six pages of baits, many knockoffs of other companies’ lures, in each catalog.

The bait in question is this 1974 topwater frog. though. We all know that 1974 wasn’t frog prime time, but frogs had been a mainstay by lure designers since the turn of the 19th century. The question I have is why would Garcia try to make a bait that, at the time, was seen more as a gimmick than a livewell filler? It really makes you wonder who in their R&D department had this idea. Or, did they buy the baits from Snag Proof and sell them under their own name.  It does look a lot like the original Snag Proof frog.

Now back to the industry today.  More and more we’re seeing companies move away from manufacturing one genre of tackle, with many selling everything from rods, reels, line and baits.  Bass Pro Shops was probably the first contemporary company to do this with success selling not only their own tackle, but boats, rods, reels and line in the late ‘70s.  Both Shimano and Diawa are noted for their top-notch reels and rods. But they are also noted for their superb lures and other tackle.  Then there’s also relative newcomers 13 Fishing and 6th Sense.

1974 Garcia Frog lure ad. Notice a striking rememblance to the old Snag Proof frog of the same era?

The industry is always changing and the person or company who is on the forefront of that change is generally the one that stays in business.  I don’t know if this switch is good for the industry or not but I’m sure in 10 years or so, we’ll find out.