When Mister Twister came out in the early 1970s, they changed the face of worm fishing in an instant. No longer did the angler have to impart action into a worm, the worm, by way of a curled tail, would provide movement never seen in a plastic bait before. Today in Mister Twister 1979, we’re going to look at some other new products that Mister Twister unloaded on the industry nearly a decade after they started.
First off, the ads that we’re presenting today were all placed in every bass magazine published at the time. Mister Twister’s marketing campaign was aggressive and based on the number of baits they sold, worth it.
For 1979, Mister Twister was debuting several new baits as well as their Keeper system of hooks and jigs. Let’s talk about the Keeper System first.
What may seem to be a standard swimbait style hook of today, the Keeper Hook was the first of its type. At first look it appears to be an obvious upgrade from the standard sproat hook most used for worm fishing back in the day.
Rigging a worm was easy. Just push the swinging shaft into the head of the worm and then push the point through the body at the right angle. No more kinked head, less guesswork, and a straight worm every time.
When the hook came out, I abandoned my Mustad 33637 sproat hooks for these. I fished them for six months in our club tournaments and had the worst six months of fishing in my life. I lost more fish than ever and it really messed my head up.
Then I started talking to others who’d made the change. We all had the same experience. Either the hook would bend out or, more commonly, the head of the worm would rip off the shaft and get impaled onto the hook point adding more plastic for the hook point to go through. It was a disaster.
More recently I was talking to Gary Klein about his rookie year on tour, 1979, and how he almost claimed the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, missing it by 1-pound, 10-ounces to Roland Martin. Klein went on to tell me that he was using the Keeper Hook that year and if he hadn’t switched, he’d have won AOY by many pounds. He told me of several bass he’d lost in the 4-pound class due to the same problems we’d experienced.
The Keeper Hook was also employed on jigheads, and what we’d call weighed fluke or swimbait hooks today. The difference in those of today and the Keeper Hook design is today’s hooks use a screwlock that prevents the head of the bait from coming off the screw and interfering with the hookup. Plus the hooks of today are much larger and thicker in cross-section.
The next bait I’d like to talk about is probably one of my favorite all-time split-shot and swimming worms. The Slither. This worm was adorned with a thin fin of plastic on one side that undulated in the water upon retrieve. It was made in 4-, 5-, and 6-inch sizes. In the west, where high angling pressure and ultra-clear water prevailed, the 4-inch bait was a producer.
This bait was my secret on the split-shot rig or on a darthead. Rigged with the fin down and tail up, it would rock back and forth on a size 1 sproat hook, just like a small minnow swimming. Rigged on a darthead, the fin would ripple all the way back to the tail. It was deadly. Then they stopped making it.
Finally in 1979 Mister Twister came out with their Sassy Shad. This may not have been a completely new concept in plastic baits as it was a knockoff of the Vivif from the 1950s, but it hit the market and became a success.
The Sassy Shad was offered in several sizes from small 1-inch baits all the way up 6-inches in length. They also came out with a worm and grub called the Sassy Worm and Sassy Grub.
The Sassy Shad was designed to be fished on a jighead and worked well in that manner. My best luck on the bait, though, was during the shad spawn and used as a flipping bait. With a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce worm weight and 3/0 Mustad sproat hook, it could be rigged Texas style and flipped into heavy grass, against docks, or anywhere the shad were spawning. And it worked.
A quick glance at Mister Twister’s website showed they still make the Sassy Shad and the Keeper Hooks. As for the other baits they offer, there are few I recognize. They made it big initially with the Phenom and today they only offer it in one size, 6-inches. Most of their bass bait lineup consists of flipping baits, ribbed swimbaits, and some bigger worms. A far cry from the powerhouse they once were in the bass industry.