There are a number of old-school plastics companies we talk about here on a regular basis. Companies such as DeLong, Creme, BURKE, and FLIPTAIL are some of our favorites. But one company we’ve delved into little so far is Mister Twister. That’s about to change today with a deep dive into an early Mister Twister 1977 Catalog.
Mister Twister was the brainchild of Ric Welle and Robert “Glynn” Carver. Before 1973, all worms were designed to mimic a natural nightcrawler, which had a straight tail. Welle and Carver thought to put a thin curl tail on the bait to give it more action with the hope that more fish would be fooled or triggered into eating it. The idea was an instant success and Mister twister was born.
Headquartered out of Louisiana, Welle and Carver quickly got to producing a curl-tail grub and a couple different sizes of curl-tail worms. Anglers in both fresh and saltwater started posting catches. Within the year, the company was off the ground and running. New bait development was coming fast and by 1977, Mister Twister was making enough different baits to fill a 36-page catalog. Today we’re going to take a look at that catalog.
The 1977 catalog starts off with a cover picture of a Sassy Dad placed next to a live crawdad. In my opinion, it’s not a good comparison. The inside cover features a color chart of the Sassy Dad. This bait was offered in a 3-inch size with nine freshwater-based colors. In contrast, the Sassy Shrimp (page 30 and the back cover) was offered in two sizes, 3- and 4-inch) as well as 16 colors. The only time I used either the Sassy Dad or Sassy Shrimp was for saltwater use. Even in 1977, there were much better options for jig trailers or even other plastics that mimicked a crawdad much better.
Page 1 gives a look at the 3-inch Meeny Grub, new for 1977. This bait came in 27 colors and was package either as a 10-pack or 4-pack with a head. This bait provided me a lot of fish at the local golf course ponds as well as the bays around my house. The tackle shop I eventually started work at in 1978 sold these grubs out of 1-pound coffee cans for about $0.10 each. Each trip to the shop I found myself filling baggies usually buying 20 to 30 of them in black.
Then when I moved to Idaho in 1993, I found that the smallies would eat them when they wouldn’t eat anything else. Fished on 4-pound line with a 3/16- or 1/4-ounce ball head, I’d cast them into the current seams of the Snake River and slowly reel them in bumping the bottom. They ended up winning a couple of events for me when no one else could buy a bite.
The next page of interest is page 6 and the Mister Twister D.T. or Double Tail. I never used this grub on its own but it was the trailer that Bobby Garland, Bass’N Man Lures, sold for use with his Spider Grub. Garland was OEMing the baits from Twister and selling them under his name.
Coupled with Garlands Spider Skirt and Swimming head, the combination made Garland’s Spider Jig. The jig was deadly on the bass of the western lakes and reservoirs. Garland made mostly smoke variants of his skirts and had Mister Twister color match every color he offered as well as using standard colors such as black, brown and purples. Here’s a link if you’ve never seen an original Garland Spider Jig.
Below the D.T.s you’ll find the 4-inch Mister Twister and on the following page, the 6-inch version. These baits found their home mainly on spinnerbaits as a trailer. Again these baits were offered in bulk sold out of coffee cans for about $0.12 each and we went through 100-bags of them a month during spinnerbait season.
The next big deal in my eyes was the Mister Twister Phenom in all sizes. This bait changed the worm fishing scene in so many ways. No longer did the angler only have a straight-tailed worm that action needed to be imparted by the angler. The Phenom came in four sizes, 4-, 5-1/4-, 6-, and 8-inches and 11 standard colors.
There are a lot of colors not mentioned in the catalog that we stocked in the shops of southern California. With bulk orders, you could get custom colors, and we ordered those by the gross in 100-count bags. These custom orders were generally in the 4-inch Phenom with colors such as smoke, smoke/silver flake, smoke/red flake, smoke/blue flake – all to placate the split-shot craze that was sweeping the west at the time.
The Sin-Sation (page 14) was another bait that got some notoriety. Used mainly as a jig trailer, its three curl tails provided good action behind a jig. Then, around 1980, Bobby Garland started cobbing together different plastics to make what he called a “creature” bait. Garland would utilize his Spider Skirt with the Sin-Sation or rig the Sin-Sation behind one of his Fat Gitzits – both baits he’d use for flipping.
Pages 15 through 17 feature another bait that garnered some press during the time, the Sassy Skirt and Sassy Spin. As we’ve written about in the past, this bait ended up in a court battle between Dr. Charles “Doc” Morehead and Mister Twister. Mister Twister came out with their version in 1977 where Doc had designed and filed for the patent on this skirt in August 1975. Morehead was awarded the patent in June 1976.
Doc Morehead was not just a lure designer but a stout competitor on several of the bass trails at the time. And, as his name would suggest, he was a surgeon. Morehead took Mister Twister to court but didn’t have the time or energy to finish out the case. He ended up dropping the case sometime in 1978. We are talking with his son and former FLW Angler of the Year winner Dan about the Nasty/Mister Twister fiasco and hope to bring you that story soon.
Also on page 16 and 17 are Mister Twister’s standard spinnerbait offerings. By 1977 if you were a bait company and didn’t offer a line of spinnerbaits, you either had your head under a rock or didn’t care about money. Twister’s line of spinnerbaits featured three sizes from 1/8- to 3/8-ounce and came with your choice of rubber or vinyl skirts as well as single or double spin.
They had all the standard colors as well as some that were probably lake-specific baits. The bait design was also a sign of the time when long-arm spinnerbaits were gaining in popularity. And, regarding some of the off colors, I really like the looks of the black bait with the flo-orange blades. Twister also made a bucktail spinnerbait that seems to have been marketed towards the pike and muskie crowd.
Pages 18-20 feature their color selection for various baits we’ve already discussed. Then on page 24 we see the familiar face of Al Lindner. By 1977 the Lindners had sold Lindy Tackle and were free agents. From the looks of pages 24-26, it appears Al had gotten on board with Twister and helped them design some walleye bait rigs.
The remainder of the catalog is filled with baits dedicated to the saltwater angler. Then, as I turned to page 35, my eyes about popped out of my head. At the top of the page is the Holy Grail for Mister Twister collectors, the Mister Twister Display Tank. I vividly remember this tank featured at every tackle shop I went to as a kid. There’d always be some grubs, Phenoms or other Mister Twister baits spinning around the tank showing how well the tails worked. To have one of these for my home office/fishing room would answer a dream I’ve had for over 30 years. They were just that cool.
That about it for the 1977 Mister Twister catalog. I still have a 1985 Catalog as well as a 1990 Catalog I received recently from a supporter of the site, Justin Welch. I’ll get those catalogs scanned and posted sometime in the near future.
I hope you all liked this look back into the history of Mister Twister. The full catalog is presented below in the gallery. Just click on the first page to scroll through the entire catalog.
Very thorough and informative post on one of the great plastic worm manufacturers of the 70’s and 80’s. Even though they are still in business they are a mere shadow of their former prominence. Their curly tail innovation was a huge deal when it was first introduced and remains an influence in plastics production to this day. Their original sassy shad was also a forerunner to the current boot tail swimbait boon as well.
I caught loads of bass on a 6” brown/orange tail phenom worm back in the day. Lots of good memories with Mister Twister products. Thanks for the post…..
Thank you Mike! I love going through these old catalogs. They bring back some great memories for sure. I still remember most of the SKUs for the nearly all of these baits as it was my job to take inventory and restock. That was over 40 years ago!