Smithwick The Blinker crankbait circa 1978.

In the recent past we’ve talked about lures and other fishing-related contraptions that should never have left the brain let alone the drawing board. We even put a call out for you readers to send us in your nominations for the Bass Fishing Darwin awards. Hardbaits – Batteries Not Included is along the same lines, and we’ll add these gems to the list of Darwin-esque baits.

First on the list is a concept I feel you all may be acquainted with from the recent past – lures that light up. Around the 2006 time frame, a new company named LaserLure came up with a “new” concept to put laser lights in a crankbait. It was based off a somewhat well-known fact that bass or any fish will follow and attack a laser light shone within their field of vision. Seems like a solid concept?

But LaserLure wasn’t the first lure company to use light as a selling point to catch bass and here’s proof. In 1978, bass fishing industry stalwart Smithwick developed and sold a crankbait called “The Blinker.” The Blinker was supposedly the first crankbait ever marketed that incorporated flashing eyes powered by batteries. I’m not too sure about that claim as I’m sure I’ve seen a similar lure that was sold in the late 60s or early 70s. Interestingly, Smithwick had designed the bait to flash only when in water, much like LaserLure did with their bait.

It goes without saying, The Blinker never made it into many tackle boxes of America’s anglers. This was probably due to a couple of things – one how much they cost. Looking at the “Special Introductory Offer” in the ad, Smithwick said, “You could be one of the first to own a revolutionary bait,” all for the sum of $10.50. If you think about it, crankbaits at the time were going for roughly $3 each. Introductory offers were generally sold at wholesale prices so this assumption would put the retail cost of the bait somewhere around $15.

Now, assume that people were willing to pay the price for the bait. Did it actually work? Although I have no proof it didn’t, if it did work, it would have sold. Remember $50 Rapalas in the 60s? $50 Big-Os in the 70s? I’m sure the pros of the time tried it out, but I don’t have any recollection that anyone won or even placed using this lure. As an outcome, the lure failed and was relegated to the discount bins of your local Piggly Wiggly. I wonder if LaserLure did any market research prior to their investing millions of dollars into their company?


Lulu the Self Propelled Lure circa 1973.

Second on the list is another nugget of failure in the hardbait world. This time it’s Captivated Lures Inc.’s “Lulu, The Self Propelled Lure.”

It’s difficult to tell if Lulu is a topwater bait or a submersible bait. In any event, the claims by the company state that you can direct this bait to the fish up to 300 feet away from the boat or shoreline. It can be guided around lily pads, stumps and submerged logs with no backlashes.

From the looks of the bait, you tie your line to the split ring on the tail, maybe hit a switch and the prop in front turns on.  Then you’d put the bait in the water, put your reel in freespool and with your rod tip, guide the bait into a lunker’s mouth. If that doesn’t make you laugh, you have no sense of humor or knowledge of fishing.

Do you have a favorite gimmick lure of piece of tackle you like to see us talk about here at the Bass Fishing Archives?  If you do, please hit us up in the comments section and we’ll be sure to cover it!

Tomorrow we’ll cover another gem in this genre – again by a major tackle manufacturer.