A 1977 Sportsman’s Products ad for their Super Floater worms.

Reading through a bunch of old magazines recently I found an ad for a lure company that was really key in the West when I was cutting my bass fishing teeth back in the mid-70s. The company was Sportsman’s Products and the bait I’m talking about was their Super Floater worm.

The claim of these worms was they could float a standard worm hook, which back then would have been a Mustad 33637 straight sproat hook or equivalent Eagle Claw and float them they would. They made a great worm to be fished on a Carolina rig or even Texas rigged, but the problem with them was you could drive one into a 2×4 with a hammer. To say they were hard would be an understatement.

The plastic used for the bait must have needed to be that consistency in order to handle the foaming agent used or in order to release from the mold so they didn’t break. In any event, that hardness made it difficult to sell alongside the Mann’s Jelly Worm and the Mister Twister Phenoms as well as getting a hook to go through the bait. In order to get the baits to a softer consistency anglers would boil them in water for a minute or two, which generally took them to a more appealing softness.

Sportsman’s Super Floaters came in two sizes I was familiar with, 4-inches and 6-inches in length, and also an 8-inch version I’ve never seen.

A 1964 ad for Sportsman’s Products “Catch ‘Em Quick” worms. If you look closely at the worm package, you’ll see their claim that the worm floats.

Although a few of the anglers I knew used the worms as they were intended, most anglers used them as jig trailers. This was so true, in fact, that when an angler came into the shop and asked for them, we instantly went on point asking where the jig bite was on.

What made the worm such a good jig trailer was the same reasons it made such a good worm to be worked off the bottom – it would stand a 1/2-ounce jig on its head. See the picture below of a split Super Floater rigged on a Larry McCain football head. McCain is the guy who invented the football head in the mid-60s.

In order to make the bait into a jig trailer, though, there was some work required. First you had to figure out how long of a trailer you wanted. You’d then determine which bait you’d need, the 4-incher or the 6-incher. Then, using a single edge razor blade, you’d cut down the length of the worm from the egg sack to the tail, forming two or four legs.

The next step was to cut part of the head off so you had a plastic cylinder. Then you’d cut that into a pie-shaped wedge. With the aid of a soldering iron, you’d then weld the wedge into the “crotch” of the split tail, thus keeping the tails splayed apart. If you wanted to get fancy, you could split the tip of each tail an inch or so and then weld in another piece of plastic to create pinchers. There you have it, a custom jig trailer that had a ton of action and made your jig stand at attention.

A 1/2-ounce Larry McCain designed football head with a cut down 6-inch Supper Floater as a trailer. Note the vinyl skirt and wire weedguard. Circa 1970.
Some vintage Super Floaters from my tackle collection. Left to right: 4-inch purple cut at the head and ready for welding, 6-inch black cut into four legs ready for welding, 6-inch brown and purple and last a 4-inch purple uncut.

I’m not sure when Sportsman’s Products went out of business, but it’s been a while ago. I’m also not too sure how popular the baits were. As they were manufactured in Marion, IN, maybe Brian will chime in here with some info on that.

As many magazines as I’ve read over the years, I can’t remember the company ever advertising much. Today there’s only one company that produces a true floating worm and that is Catch Outdoors. The baits are the original Danny Joe Humphrey’s Floating worm. I need to get some of these and see if I can make them do what the old Sportsman’s Products Super Floaters could do.