Lazy Ike - The Lure of Fishing booklet, 1964.
I’ve had three or four Lazy Ikes in my first tackle box since I was a single digit youngster. In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing a tackle box that didn’t hold at least a couple of Lazy Ikes. Seems that they were like hooks, sinkers and bobbers; they were just a part of everyone’s inventory of essentials. The Lazy Ike was, for a time, one of the most popular baits around. They were cheap, attractive and they caught fish. I caught a good many smallmouth bass on the Flambeau Flowage with a Lazy Ike, as well as a few walleye. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Lazy Ike production increased substantially, and the product line increased with new lures, such as the Rattle Ike, Chug Ike, Shark Ike and Bat Ike. In fact, in 1962 Popular Mechanics magazine named the Lazy Ike as one of “Fishing’s Deadly Dozen.” The small booklet we’ll be looking at here – “The Lure of Fishing” – was published in 1964 and looks like an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the lure.
Lazy Ike booklet, 1964, pp. 20-21.

Sometime in the 1930s a man named Newell Daniels, of Fort Dodge, Iowa, carved a lure that would become the Lazy Ike. In 1938 Newell was fishing in the Des Moines River with his homemade creation. He was observed by Joe Kautzky Jr., one of the sons of Joe Kautzky Sr. who ran a sporting goods store in Fort Dodge. The story goes that Joe Jr., upon seeing the slow wobbling action of Newell’s lure, remarked something along the lines of “…look at that lazy ike,” whatever that meant. The Kautzky’s – Joe Jr, brother Rudy and sister Marie – hired Newell to carve the lure for the Kautzky Sporting Goods store, which they sold for .75 cents apiece. After two years of carving Lazy Ikes and not getting rich, Newell quit the gig and gave the Kautzky’s the rights to the lure. So, the Kautzky’s hired a railroad man named “Pop” Shuck to make the lure for the store. Shuck apparently cut the forms out with a jig saw, sanded them by hand and hand-painted each lure, working every other day because of his job with the railroad.

Demand for the Lazy Ike slowly, or not so slowly increased until Shuck couldn’t physically meet the demand anymore. So, Rudy Kautzky developed a lathe machine that was reportedly able to pump out 600 lure bodies an hour. Now things really started ramping up for the Kautzky’s and the lure quickly gained national and international fame. The Kautzky Manufacturing Company hired more people and started producing on a factory scale, with six sizes and nine color combinations, and those size and color numbers grew over time as well. In 1960 Rudy Kautzky created a mold machine that produced the Lazy Ike in plastic. That was the end of the wood Lazy Ike.

In 1962 two things happened. One, the Kautzky’s hit the 10-million mark in Lazy Ikes produced, and two, the above-mentioned Popular Mechanics article named the Lazy Ike as one of the 12 all-time greatest lures. But in 1961 the Kautzky’s sold the controlling interest in the Lazy Ike to a Des Moines firm called the Lazy Ike Corp., with Joe and Rudy staying on at the company in directorial and advisory roles. The company changed ownership a few more times until 1991 when they were purchased by Pradco.

Here’s the text from the May, 1962 Popular Mechanics article, “Fishing’s Deadly Dozen.”

The Lazy Ike, made by the Lazy Ike Corp., of Fort Dodge, Iowa, was developed by the Kautzky Sporting Goods Co. in the early forties. It’s a ‘sharp’ wiggler with an unusual capacity for working at any speed. Became quickly popular with Minnesota trollers, especially for walleye, and spread from there. Most popular size and finish has been the ⅜-ounce red and white model shown, but similar models come in seven sizes and 12 finishes, plus a good-looking new line of nine metallic finishes. Two good tips: Always fish the Lazy Ikes with a metal snap between the line and lure, and try a worm or a plastic imitation on the rear hook to encourage slow strikers.”

Lazy Ike booklet, 1964, pp. 38-39.

“The Lure of Fishing” booklet is a fun and oddly diverse publication, written in bite-size chunks with a sense of humor and flair. It’s part fishing basics, part catalog, and part filler. I enjoyed this lively bit of writing in “The Power of Artificial Bait” opening:

But the world’s record catches, 9 out of 10, are caught on artificial lures. 

There are a lot of reasons why, including cannibalism. Fish are cannibals…get plumb fighting mad at the flashing gyrations of a beautifully balanced lure. They’ll strike it viciously, more so than a water-wilted worm or half-dead minnow.

Your fighting gamefish wants a real antagonist. The artificial lure, deftly handled, becomes one. It has the colors that reflect and attract…the action that incites the strike…the well-deployed hooks that catch and hold.

The Seein’ is Believin’ photo collage pages were fun, and showed a variety of fish species. But bass predominate, including a few lunkers. Vintage angler photos are always a joy. I’m guessing that while the Lazy Ike was a great lure for a lot of different fish, it excelled at catching bass. It was, unless weighted, generally a shallow runner that was especially effective on river smallmouth and shallow water largemouth. I found the red head/white body and yellow with red spots patterns to be especially effective.

The fishing sections of the booklet – where to find fish, fish identification, fishing tips – remind me of the kinds of things you might find in a Cub Scout Handbook. Enjoyable, light, forgettable if you’re more than 12 years old. The catalog section is the meat of the publication, with a page for every lure in the Lazy Ike line. I was a little surprised to see that Lazy Ike sold a series of catfish baits in plastic tubs. I don’t recall those when I was a kid, but then, I only purchased and catfished with dough bait a couple of times. One page that really caught my eye is the one with the Lazy Ike Spin Kit, a small logo’d plastic box with Lazy Ikes and Jig Ikes. I’d love to own one of those kits!

On the same page as the kit is the Lazy Ike Rod Rac. This rack is a patented invention by Joe Kautzky Jr., and a variation of this device is sold by at least one modern company today (here). Joe Jr. and Rudy both had inventive minds, and Joe Jr. has several patents to his name, including five for fishing reels, the rod rack, two for a lure that would become the Top Ike, and one for an automatic trigger for double-barrel shotguns.

Joe Kautzky Jr. "Rod Holding Device" patent.
Joe Kautzky Jr. "Free Spool Level Wind Reel" patent.
The catalog ends with a couple pages of handy Red Cross First Aid for Fishermen tips, a page of Boy Scout camping knots, and an “Emergency Order Blank,” in case you needed a couple of lures or a tub of catfish bait in a hurry. LOL

All in all, the Lazy Ike – The Lure of Fishing booklet is a cool little bit of fishing history ephemera.

I’ll end with this great old newspaper photo of an angler with a nice bass caught on a Lazy Ike. The picture is from Indiana’s April 23, 1964 issue of The Tell City News, and shows Billy Posey holding a heavy 6 lb. 5 oz. largemouth. The last sentence in the photo is great: “Posey said every hook on the plug was bent and when finally landed the fish was hanging by just one hook.”

Billy Posey with a 6 lb. 5 oz. largemouth caught on a Lazy Ike. The Tell City News, April 23, 1964.
To view the entire Lazy Ike – Lure of Fishing catalog booklet, click on the first image in the gallery below and use the arrows to scroll through.

GALLERY – Lazy Ike – Lure of Fishing