Original Caption: Loyd Tallent with a Lake Wheeler largemouth caught on a rat. The Montgomery Advisor, September 1990. Photo by David Precht/B.A.S.S.

In today’s Friday Finale historical photo, we celebrate another 50th anniversary of sorts – the creation of “The Rat” by featuring its designer, Loyd Tallent.

In a 1990 article in the hometown paper, The Montgomery Advisor, Loyd stated he created his “Rat” design back in 1974 as a way to deal with the heavy vegetation found in lakes Wheeler and Guntersville back then.  There weren’t many baits that you could effectively work the milfoil mats with in summer and fall, so Loyd designed one.  It took him about 3 or 4 years of tinkering, playing with various plastics, etc., but he finally arrived at the right combination.

The bait caught on locally, and a lot of events were won using it, but it only grew slowly by word of mouth outside the area.  Slowly but surely, others picked up on it, word spread, and interest from professional anglers on the trail also occurred.  Then, sometime around 1989, the bait was featured on the Bassmaster Television Show.  Interest really took off, as did orders.

According to Loyd:

“Pro Bass Shop wanted me to make them some and I just couldn’t meet the demand.  So, I let Mann’s Bait Company have it a year and a half ago.  I didn’t want to have to put up with all the problems of getting bigger.  I enjoy fishing.  I’m a fisherman, not a bait manufacturer.”

Mann’s started producing several different versions of the bait including a Rat, Popper, Frog, and a Super Rat.  Other designs would follow, and the bait “took off.”

As for Tallent’s recommendations on fishing his bait, he stated, “some of the best action occurs when the sky is cloudy, and the water has a little ripple on it.”  He also mentions, “that on bright sunny days bass will hit real good around the milfoil in the middle of the day.”

Loyd didn’t really have a color preference, mentioning that local bodies of water all developed their own favorite color patterns for whatever reason. “I think the key is the action, not the color,” he said.

Loyd Tallent passed in late December, 2004, at the age of 78, but his bait lives on, and helped spawn an entire generation of new and innovative soft plastic baits designed to fish heavy vegetation that enjoy immense popularity still today.