Original Caption: Guido Hibdon, B.A.S.S. Angler-of-the-year, holds a lure produced by Lucky Strike, Cassville bait company run by John Hendricks Jr., left. The lures are sold worldwide. The Springfield News-Leader, July 1990. Photo credit: Bob Franson for The News-Leader

Today’s Friday Finale historical photo dates back almost 35 years and features Guido Hibdon, right about the time his Guido Bug and G-2 tube were heading toward their peak of popularity.

At the time, Lucky Strike billed itself as ‘The Worm King,” according to the news story that went along with the picture.  They were one of the three largest makers of soft plastic baits in the country.  They had started with trout baits but had grown to produce nearly 3800 types of soft plastics.

“We don’t want to be somebody we’re not.  We’re looking for the country fishermen who hunt, fish, trap the way they’ve done all their lives,” said John Hendricks, Jr., who is also shown in the photo.  Hendricks’ father bought the bait-making company in the early 1970s, moving it from Illinois to Mississippi.  When the younger Hendricks took over, he transferred Lucky Strike to Cassville, MO, where he had lived as a boy.

“I’m a hillbilly – I’m not going to live in Mississippi,” he said he explained to his family at the time. Another reason behind the move was a connection with Bass Pro, headquartered just over an hour away in Springfield, who had helped take the company to a national audience.

At the time of the story, the company employed 51 workers under 4 roofs in downtown Cassville but were planning a move to a new 22,000 square foot building.

Here are a few related trivia pieces I came across while researching this story.

> The company originally held the patent for ringworms, but that patent expired in the 1990s, and allowed other manufacturers to then copy and market the design.

> Randy Blaukat helped design baits and promote Lucky Strike beginning around 1986 and was still working with the company at the time of one of the stories in 1993.

> The original name for the crawdad bait that son Dion first designed and poured as a high school project was “Guido’s Bug,” but it wasn’t long before it was simply referred to as the “Guido Bug.”

>  The original spelling of the name dating back to 1972 when they sold “trout worms” was “Lucky Strike.”  It wasn’t until about 1992 that the version most people are familiar with, “Luck ‘E’ Strike,” can be found in papers.  It also appears that for several years, the name variations overlapped, and depending upon the story, you might find either spelling of the company.