Today in Okiebug Tackle Show 1978 we’re going to look at one of the coolest tackle show ads I have ever seen. The ad features Don Butler’s Okiebug Shop, which was based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Butler not only had his shop but also had a distribution company specializing in bass tackle and anything else having to do with fishing.
Back in July 2022, we featured the 1974 Okiebug catalog in one of our posts. At the time I’d never seen nor heard of Butler having a mail-order catalog and this was catalog number four. His operation started in the 1960s which predates Johnny Morris and his Bass Pro Shops. In fact, when Morris was getting started, he used to buy tackle from Butler to sell in his fledgling Bass Pro Shops.
Let’s get back to the ad.
Nearly a full page in size, the ad featured 13 of the biggest names in professional bass fishing at the time. Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Ricky Green, Rick Clunn, Bill Dance, and Bobby Murray were just a sampling of who would be there.
And where was here? The Tulsa Fairgrounds Exhibits Building. Butler had rented 50,000 square feet of the building, which, at the time, was the largest building under a single roof in the world. 446,400 square feet.
Why’d he need such a big building? Well, not only would he have the 13 pros at the show, but he’d also invited over 100 manufacturers and their reps to the show. That’s an impressive tackle show even by today’s standards.
Entry was $2 per adult and kids under 12 were admitted for free.
What really grabbed me about the ad, though, was the depth of the pros on hand. I mentioned a few of them earlier but let’s dive a little deeper into the lineup.
In this group you have four BASS Masters Classic winners, Bobby Murray (1971), Tommy Martin (1974), Jack Hains (1975), and Rick Clunn (1976 and 77), not to mention show host Don Butler, who won in 1972.
Also, there are the only three anglers who’d attained the AOY crowns from 1970 through 1977. Bill Dance (1970, 1974, 1977), Roland Martin (1971, 1972, 1973, 1975), and Jimmy Houston (1976).
Out of the anglers, only two hadn’t won a BASS Master event, Roger Moore and Floyd Mabry. Mabry had never fished a BASS Master event and I’m not sure he fished any of the other tournament circuits that were around during the day. But don’t let that cloud your mind as to why Mabry would be amongst this elite crowd.
By 1977, Mabry was the voice of the Bomber Lure Company and one of the best bass anglers in the country. Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston both credit Mabry with teaching them the finer points of bass fishing.
As for Moore, he was a stud angler who nearly won the 1974 Classic and was always in the race for AOY. During his time on the Trail, he qualified for four Classics and placed in the Top 10 in 21 of the 35 events he fished with B.A.S.S.
Then there’s Dave Gliebe. In 1977, when he made his debut, Gliebe won three events on three different circuits in the span of four weeks. He won these events using a new method called Flippin’. Gliebe may not have invented flippin’ but he is the angler who put it on the map and to have him at the show would draw people who wanted to hear firsthand about the new tournament winning technique.
This would have been the show of the decade to attend not just to see the pros but all the tackle on display. Plus, they had a drawing with a grand prize being a Ranger 1750 Aztec. Oh to have been around the Tulsa area in 1978.