Today in Rebel 1983 we’re going to get back to a more contemporary time of our sport and look at a company and a line of baits that have, within the last five years, become collectors themselves. Plastics Research and Development Corp (PRADCO), makers of The Amazing Rebel Minnow, started in the lure business in 1962. Prior to that, the company was making refrigerator parts and other injection molded plastics for the home.
If not for the Rapala Minnow’s introduction into the United States in the late 1950s, George Perrin, owner of PRADCO, may never have gotten into the lure business. But Perrin, being an avid angler, was tired of not being able to buy the Rapala and, when he could, was tired of paying the exorbitant price for them. With his background in injection molding, he set out to create a plastic version of the wooden minnow lure that was sweeping the nation.
Within four years, PRADCO had a full lineup of hard plastic lures for the bass angler.
What we have to share today is a catalog from the 21st year of PRADCO’s existence.
But, before we get into that, I would like to thank Bass Fishing Archives supporter, Andy Kinslow, for sharing this catalog with us. If it wasn’t for people like him, we wouldn’t have the collection of catalogs we’re building upon for all to see.
So, let’s get into this 1983 Rebel catalog.
The lead-in image of this article is the cover of the catalog and features the new Rebel Talkin’ Spoon. At the time, anglers were still utilizing the weedless Johnson spoon for fishing grass. As recently as 1978, Bobby Murray had won the BASS Masters Classic on a customized Johnson spoon, reviving the reputation of the bait.
Rebel’s version, though, was not made of metal. It was made of plastic and had a sound chamber with BBs placed in it. The spoon came in three colors, chrome, black, and gold plated and featured a rubber skirt as an extra attractant. Overall the spoon was 2 1/4-inches long and weighed 1/2-ounce.
Turning the cover revealed the start of the catalog and five new baits. Next on the list was the Buzz’N Frog, which came in two sizes. The T4 was 2 1/2-inches long and weighed 1/2-ounce and the T6 was 3-inches long and weighed 3/4-ounce. The design of the bait had a molded stationary head behind which were the legs, fashioned in the shape of a buzzbait blade. The legs had a tube running through the centerline, and that tube rode in a heavy wire and allowed the legs to spin. Behind the legs was a double hook that was said to be “virtually weedless.”
The next bass bait was the Liv’N End Shad, a combination hard/soft crankbait. The head of the bait was solid hard plastic and the tail was made out of soft plastic. It was a shallow diver and came with a single double hook mounted to the hard plastic head.
For the serious crankbait angler, the next bait turned out to be a success for Rebel, the Double Deep R series. This bait was built off the same platform as the Deep R but had a steel shot placed into the front of the diving bill to provide a steeper angler of attack. It came in three sizes, the Wee-R, Mini-R, and Maxi-R.
Page 3 of the catalog contained part of Rebel’s reaction to Lazy Ike’s Natural Ike and Bagley’s Small Fry series of natural crankbaits. On this page Rebel is showcasing their Crawfish series in three sizes, five different depth ranges, and eight colors.
Pages 4 and 5 offered Rebels answer to the ever-increasing popularity of ultra-light fishing. Their Ultra-light minnows and R-series baits filled the niche in that category with seven ultra-light minnows and seven ultra-light crankbaits.
The ultra-light minnows came in three jointed versions from 1 3/4-inches to 3 1/2-inches in length, three one-piece models from 1 1/2-inches to 3 1/2-inches, and one Spoonbill model at 3 1/2-inches. There were 15 colors available in most models except for the F49, J49, and J10, which had 13 and 11 colors respectively.
The R-series ultra-light crankbaits came in seven versions as well. Starting out the parade was the F25 Humpback, followed by the D25 Humpback. These baits were the same size but differed in their diving bills. Next there were three Teeny-Rs that included the Super Teeny-R, Teeny-R, and Deep Teeny-R. Rounding out the list was the Small Shallow-R and the Suspend-R.
The Suspend-R was a huge hit at the time and I can remember selling boxes of them during this era. It was a small compact bait that dove to about 8 feet. What I didn’t like about the bait was it was a pain to tune. Once you’d get it running straight, you’d deflect off a rock and the bait would take another 10 minutes to get back to running straight.
Next on Rebels docket was the rest of their Natural crankbaits. In this series they had a shad, perch, bass, crappie and a bream. Unlike Bagley’s, which designed a different bait for each forage fish, Rebel used the same mold for their perch and bass as well as the same mold for their crappie and bream.
Each bait was 3 inches in length and weighed between 3/5 ounce and 3/4 ounce in weight. The colors they offered were as shown in the images.
Page 7 brings us to the bait that started it all, The Amazing Rebel Minnow, although by 1983 it was no longer called that. The Freshwater Minnows came in four models and ranged from 4 1/2-inches to 5 1/2 inches in length. There were two sizes in the standard shallow one-piece bait, the F20S and F30S, two sizes in the shallow jointed version, J20S and J30S. Then they had a one-piece Spoonbill (D20S), and two jointed Spoonbills, DJ2S and DJ3S.
The biggest seller we had at our shop was the D20S Spoonbill. We’d sell dozen-count boxes of them as fast as we could buy them. We had a group of older anglers that fished the southern California lakes and trolled these deep diving jerkbaits and just wreaked havoc on the fish. This was at a time when lakes like Castaic, Casitas, Piru, and Cachuma were going through some tough times due to drought. Weekend tournaments on the lakes might require 9 or 10 pounds to win yet the old guys trolling were bringing in 20-pound limits. There’s something to be said for trolling.
The next page offered a glimps into Rebel’s R-Series crankbaits, namely the Wee-R, Deep Wee-R, Deep Mini-R, Deep Maxi-R, and the Super-R. These baits were a hit from the time they were introduced back in the mid-1970s and continued to sell though the years. They were offered in anywhere from nine to 25 different colors depending upon the model. This would provide any collector today with a stout challenge to find all of these combinations.
If you are a topwater angler, page 9 is for you. We’ve already talked about the two new topwater baits earlier so let’s continue with two of the old models, the Jumpin’ Minnow and the P70 Pop-R. I have no experience with the Jumpin’ Minnow but know nationally it was a very successful lure.
The P70 Pop-R, on the other hand, I have a lot of experience with. In fact, this bait is still in my lineup and the three originals I have in my box are worn to the point there is very little finish on them. Their original colors were baby bass and chrome black back. Today, they’re the natural color of the plastic they were made from which is a nice bone color. I can’t think how many times the hooks have been replaced on these little gems and they just keep producing. The last fish I caught on them was just a few weeks ago.
The rest of the bait pages cover the countdown minnows, saltwater series minnows, and the Saltwater Rebels. I won’t go into those baits as their use for bass was limited at best.
Instead, I’d like to cover some of the rebel tackle boxes that were covered on pages 16 through 23.
Rebel, being a plastics manufacturer to start with, didn’t take advantage of tackle box manufacturing until the mid-1970s. And being that they were one of the biggest injection molding companies in the United States, one would think they’d be pretty good at designing plastic items that would hold up.
The Rebel boxes that first came out seemed to be of high quality, except for the tightness of the hinges. Their plastic seemed more ductile than that of Plano or Flambeau, especially when it came to the main body of the box. This could be a good thing, particularly if one dropped a box.
The clear plastic seemed about the same as Plano’s and Flambeau’s. The problem we had in the west where we would frequent the Arizona and Nevada lakes was the Rebel boxes didn’t like that kind of heat. With nowhere to store boxes in the day, they were left to bake in the 115-degree sun. By the end of a weekend fishing, the lids resembled a potato chip and wouldn’t close. By the mid-1980s we couldn’t sell a Rebel tackle box, except for the small terminal tackle boxes shown on page 23.
That about does it for this post. We hope you enjoyed looking back on Rebel 1983 and all they had to offer. If you happen to have any Rebel catalogs that you haven’t seen here, please contact us and maybe we can feature your catalog in a post at a later date.
Until then, we have posted the catalog in its entirety below in the gallery. Click on the first image and use the arrows to navigate through the gallery.
Gallery – Rebel 1983