It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything about Storm Lures and for about a year I’ve been meaning to post at least a couple things about the company. One piece I’m working is about a gentleman named Ron McDonald out of Alabama, owner of Southern Fishing News and the original artist for Storm Lures. The second is the piece today, Storm Lures 1992. In this piece we’ll look back at the 1992 catalog and check out the Storm offerings when they were still owned by the Storm brothers and in Norman, Oklahoma.
The cover of the catalog gets your attention quick. The tagline at the bottom of the cover says, “Crankin’ Up The Heat,” and the image depicts fire on the water with a Thin Fin falling through it, complete with line tied to the split ring. It’s a pretty cool cover graphically speaking.
Turning the page you’re greeted with an introduction of their baits, but in a way not may companies pursued. They featured their baits and color patterns with respect to the fish they caught. I guess Storm knew their customer base well and wanted to make sure they touched on each aspect of freshwater sportfishing so as not to alienate their customers. Pretty smart if you ask me.
Of course Storm had a huge following of bass anglers and one look at their catalog proves that. But as long as I lived in the Pacific Northwest, anglers up that way see Storm as a steelhead, salmon, and walleye bait company as much or more than a bass lure company. Then there were the striper anglers of California and the Colorado River lakes. Storm just produced lures that flat out caught fish.
Page four get’s into the new lures being offered in 1990, specifically the Rattlin’ Chug Bug and the Pro Series Short Wart. The Chug Bug has to be one of the best chuggers of all time and has a cult-like following to this day. The new bait, as you’d guess, had rattles added to it to give it more noise as well as a skirted treble hook on the rear.
The next new bait being introduced in the catalog was the Pro Series Short Wart. In the description of this bait was the tell of when this catalog was printed in the following statement.
“The Newest Wiggle Wart Family members were spawned by the ’91 BASS-Master Classic winning Short Wart. Referred to as a ‘reflection’ bait because it flares off standing timber, rocks and stumps during high speed retrieves, this rattling, shallow diving bait is designed to fish heavy cover.”
This sounds like the trait of the contemporary square bill crankbait to me and looking at it I think you’ll definitely agree. Remember, square bills were first brought to the masses through Fred Young and eventually Cotton Cordell at the beginning of the alphabet lure craze in 1973. Then it died off by the start of the 1980s. I don’t remember really hearing much about the these shallow running baits again until the early 2000s when the square bill made its biggest comeback of all.
Looking back at my November 1991 issue of Bassmaster Magazine and the 1992 Classic Report, I dug out the reports that mentioned Ken Cook, the 1991 Classic winner, and the Short Wart. Not much was said about the crankbait other than he’d used it to put a quick limit in the boat the first day. The rest of the event he was said to be using a Hart spinnerbait. Still, you can’t blame Storm for capitalizing on the win.
The curious thing about this new Pro Series is the Short Wart was already out in the FV size, which was what won the ’91 Classic. Then in this 1992 catalog, they come out with the FFV and AFV series which were bigger baits and called them the Pro Series. Why exclude the original in the new name, I haven’t a clue. The Pro Series included 11 new colors, two-tone rattles, rounded edge lip square lip, and bronze hooks.
The next bait in the line up is without doubt the bait that put Storm on the map in the late 1960s, the Thin Fin. I never liked this bait when I was a kid due to the fact it cast like a potato chip in even the slightest of breeze. But many anglers swore by the bait, and they sold millions throughout the years.
Like the bait or not, you have to appreciate Storms color selection. There was something for every species of fish and a lot of those supposed walleye and steelhead colors actually caught a lot of bass.
Page 6 featured the ThunderStick jerkbaits, a bait that was always in my box. The shallow diver and the deep diver just flat caught fish and the color palate available covered every condition an angler could face.
I got turned onto this bait in Michigan during the mid- to late-1980s when I was learning to throw a jerkbait. Back then the only real jerkbaits available were the Smithwick Rogue, Bomber Long A and the Storm ThunderStick. Each bait had its own set of traits and if you knew how to read the fish, you could dial in which bait and color they wanted. The ThunderStick really shined at certain times.
The next pages dealing in bass-centric baits were 10 and 11. The pages of the Wiggle Wart. One can never imagine the scene this bait would cause post 1999, after the Storm buyout by Rapala. What once was a semi-quietly held secret of the Midwest, really everyone knew about the bait, just no one talked loudly about it, exploded once this cherished mis-molded crankbait was ruined by its new stewards.
Originally, the Wiggle Wart was offered in four sizes and a myriad of colors. The bait caught everything from bass to walleye to salmon and steelhead. Upon hitting a rock or a stump, the bait would veer hard right or left, hunt a bit and then begin tracking straight. It was this crazy action that triggered bites. This action had everything to do with the plastic the Storm brothers came up with and the mis-aligned molds.
Then, Rapala bought the company, “fixed” the molds and started using a different plastic. They “perfected” the Wiggle Wart into oblivion.
One thing about the Wiggle Wart, and many other Storm lures, is that they’ve become highly collectable. This due to the Rapala buyout but more so they’re fun to collect due to the many colors they were offered in. Just on these two Wiggle Wart pages alone are 122 different colors not counting custom colors painted for specific stores all around the country.
Next on the list of baits are the Mac series of baits presented on page 12. The Big Mac was a striper killer in the day. Then there’s a topwater bait called the ThunderMac that I’d never seen before. It’s shaped like a walking bait but has the lines of a Japanese bait rather than the standard Zara Spook of the day. This makes me wonder who came out with that shape first, Storm or the Japanese. By 1992, bass fishing in Japan had boomed and also that same year Megabass first came to the U.S. More digging will need to be done on this.
Under the Mac series of baits is the original Chug Bug. As stated in the first part of this article, the Chug Bug had a cult following in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s. At one point in time, anglers were rigging two or three of these baits in series, connecting the tail split ring to the nose of another bait. I remember at least one major event won like this, that led to the legend of the Chug Bug.
The final thing I’ll discuss about the catalog is located on page 14. The Storm Lures Fishing Headquarters. This cardboard tackle shop display was a royal pain in the sphincter for tackle shop owners because it was top heavy. Designed to be used as an endcap for an aisle, I know of too many customers who rounded a corner, foot catching the corner of the display and providing the stock boy with about an hour’s worth of cleanup to do. Yesterday this was a cursed item. Today it’s a Storm collectors wet dream.
The rest of the catalog features a list of all the stock Storm colors, some lure tuning tips, a little Storm history and some storm clothing. Overall this is a really sweet catalog that documents a snapshot in time of a company that knew how to design lures not just for bass but all sportfish.