1988 Heddon and Lee Sisson ad

Today we’re going to look at a little of the old blended with the new. In 1988, one of the oldest lure brands in the world, Heddon, decided to combine forces with a relative newcomer to the bait world and bring back to life some of their old wooden models and introduce a couple news ones. That relationship, known as the Heddon and Sisson collaboration, brought Heddon and world-famous lure designer Lee Sisson together.

We all know the Heddon name and that they’ve been around for over 100 years. Bought out by PRADCO in the early 80s, they still make some of the most iconic lures ever designed. They also held the title of the “lure that caught the world record bass” for over 70 years and have beat the test of time.

We also know the name of Lee Sisson. He was the brains behind the first true deep-diving crankbait, the Diving B series of baits from Bagley’s. In short time, Sisson became Jim Balgey’s Lure design guru and probably the most decorated wood lure designer to come out of the U.S. in the second half of the 20th century. Essentially every bait design that came out of Winter Haven, FL after 1975 had Lee’s fingerprints all over it.

But here’s a piece of history I bet many of you either didn’t know or didn’t remember. That is the Heddon and Sisson collaboration. While perusing a 1988 Bassmaster the other day, I found this ad for the project complete with the “introductory offer” we all miss.

The ad featured two early Heddon models, the Zara Spook and the Dying Flutter as well as the later arrival the Zara Puppy. Along with these three Heddon designs were four new-ish Sisson designs. All of these wood baits also featured Sisson’s exclusive ticker sound chamber.

Let’s get into the baits.

Looking at the two baits at the top of the ad you instantly notice the Sisson-esque body style crankbait and paint job. The top bait, the Diving Tiny Ticker, looks like a cross between a KB-1 and a DB-1, where lip angle is concerned. The ad states it weighs 1/4-oz and would dive to six feet. Below and to the left, the next bait also has a familiar shape. This reminds me of the Bang-O B in both shape and lip angle. At 3/8-oz, this bait would dive to seven feet.
Below those are three baits that aren’t hard for the Heddon fan to recognize, the Dying Flutter, the Zara Spook Puppy, and the Zara Spook. The Dying Flutter came in at 3/8-oz, the Zara Puppy at 1/4-oz and the standard sized Zara Spook was 3/4-oz.

The crankbait between the Zara Puppy and the Zara Spook is another Sisson creation called the Diving Ticker Shad. Again, this bait resembles the old Bang-O B by Bagley’s. It too was a deep diver capable of 12-feet and weighed 1/2-oz.

The next bait in the line was the Minnow Mate, This lure bears a similar resemblance to the short-lived Bagley’s Twin Spinner Minnow 5 of the early 80s, minus the props on each end and with a diving lip added. This bait is advertised as weighing 1/2-oz and would dive to 3-feet.

The final bait shown in the ad has a striking resemblance to a Bagley’s Diving B-3. With the rattle in this bait, it would more closely reflect the diving Chatter B-3.

I can honestly say I ever saw one of these baits up close, but I wish I had. If I had chance of obtaining any of them, it’d be the Dying Flutter and the standard Spook. But if someone was to offer me any of them, I sure as heck wouldn’t say no.

Upon seeing the ad, I let my fingers do the walking on my keyboard, to eBay. I typed in Heddon Lee Sisson Wood Lures and was greeted by one result. It was the Minnow Mate on the card and was selling for $50.00. Then I changed the search to Sold and Completed Items and found two more examples. I won’t say what they sold for, but I guarantee you, the prices on these baits are sure to rise as everything I seem to post on this site increases in value every time I post something new or odd.

The collaboration between Heddon and Sisson didn’t last long, which is why few people know about the baits. In my estimate, it lasted for only two years and ended in roughly 1990. I’m supposed to be meeting up with Lee this summer so at that time I’ll ask him more on the genesis of the relationship as well as the designs of the baits. Until then, if anyone out there knows anything more about this collaboration or how the baits worked, please drop a line or three in the comments section below.