Action Lures Breathing Worm ad from Western Bass Magazine, Fall 1976.

The first time I came across the Action Lures Breathing Worm was around 1978. They were hanging on the wall at the shop I worked at – already having a number of birthdays there – collecting dust. They looked too gimmicky for me to lay down the $1.99 required to liberate them from their pegs, especially when my hard-earned $2.50/hr wage was generally spent on Bagley’s DB2s and Smitty hand pours.

Then one day an angler who I really respected came in and bought the entire stock. I asked him, what he was doing and he just smiled, paid the bill and left.

After that incident, another respected angler came in asking where the “Action Worms” were. I told him they were sold out. He left the store in hurry, presumably to go to the next store to hopefully find a cache.

Turns out the worm had just won a number of events and it was hot. Unfortunately the company had recently gone out of business and people were going all over to find the ones that were left.

The bait was primarily used as a trailer for the old flippin’ jigs – I’m talking hand-tied bucktail banana head jigs complete with poly-pro weedguard that Dee Thomas popularized – but had had recent success as a Texas-rigged worm. In fact, the smoke-colored variant was a no-brainer at Castaic and the River lakes for a long time – unbeknownst to me, a 14-year-old wannabee.

The bait became in such demand that stores and anglers were selling them for unbelievable prices per worm. I got my hands on a few (seven) of the smoke ones and caught a number of fish on them before they were torn to shreds.

My boss at the time, Bob Prescott of Bob’s Fishing Tackle fame, decided to make a mold of the bait and go into production. What followed was a lot of money put into molds but the mold guy never came through. A few thousand dollars later, he scrapped the idea.

So, after seeing this ad, I wonder if someone will buy the old Breathing Worm molds and bring them back into production? Heck, it’s not that crazy an idea when you consider Flip Tail, who was out of business for 30-some-odd years, came back to life last year. Come on someone, bring back the Action Worm!

For those of you interested in seeing a little more on the Action Worm as well as the old bait in “action,” check out this video by fellow old-school nut Chris at RetroBassin!

Past Reader Comments: 

Michael Saaadi:  I had a great time fishing the 4.75 inch Action Worms! These were the hot bait at Lake Don Pedro in central California in 1978. I just found a box full of the 4.75 inch size in a larger box that was packed since 1980. I used to work at Sport Fishing Center in San Jose CA and we sold a ton of these worms. I am going to use these last survivors this spring 2013! nostalgic stuff

RichZ:  The plastic I’d love to see come back from the ’70s is the Cat Claw Super Tail. No other twin tailed bait has ever come close to the original Super Tails in my opinion. Never cared as much for the later, injected models. They worked — but not like the old hand poured version.

Terry to RichZ:  Okay Rich, now you’ve stumped me. What the heck was that bait? You have one laying around?

RichZ:  SOMEONE reading this blog must remember the Super Tail! I have some poor copies of it here and there. Lots of guys have tried, but none really captures what the original did. Maybe Marty Freidman’s copy comes closest. It was made by a guy named Bob Sickafoose from Ohio. He passed away quite some time back — the complications of diabetes did him in. His step sons, who ran the company with him back in the day, are more than reluctant to pass on the original molds. You should find an article about it from Bassmaster in the 76 to 78 time frame somewhere. Article was by Bob Berman.

pete biancosino to RichZ:  Rich…I have some. I got 30yrs ago…they are the best behind a weed hopper weedless spoon…no trailer comes close…a company called lure craft will make molds for hand pours…senko’s, spider grubs etc. I will see if they can make a mold for the cat claw.

Mike Brakebill:  I fish these back in the seventies and eighties . I thought that the way the closed ring trapped air was sooooo cool , the best color for me was brown with orange tail !?!?! We used this worm as inspiration for the zipper worm . As far as gimmick worms got the Bill Dance Diamond Back worms in blue were my favorite !!!!!!! Thanks for this AWSOME site. Every time I look at it I get goosebumps !!!

Terry to Mike:  Hey Mike, I often wondered if the Zipper worm was modeled after the Action worm. It wouldn’t take Greg much to make a mold….hint hint. 🙂 Thanks for visiting the site and we’re happy you’re liking it!

Brian:  I received a pack or two of these worms when I joined B.A.S.S. back in the day…back when you got a box full of what seemed like great stuff for signing up for 2 or 3 years at a go. Never did much good on them, though I wasn’t much of a worm fisherman back then, either. We actually caught most of our worm bass on the good old Mister Twister 6″ phenom curlytail, while my favorite “gimmick” worm was “The Tube” by Knight Manufacturing. Loved that bait, even though I never caught a lot of bass on them. Now that’s a worm I wish they’d bring back!

Cc:  To my mind the Action worm was a latest version of the Rebel ringworm. I recall in the mid-late seventies my fishing buddy and me in the Woolworth’s sporting goods section that was run by a member of the Tri-Cities Bassmasters which in itself was an interesting department. There was like one baseball mitt, one basketball, a tennis racket and the rest of the department was cutting edge bass tackle – great stuff. Anyway, there were these packs of ringworms and we looked at them and laughed at how goofey they looked and the name until and older gentleman and apparently a seasoned angler told us that they were a hot worm – so of course we bought a bunch.

Short story – long, they accounted for our first fish out of Castaic – loved the ribbed worms ever since. Now of course we have the Zipper worms – when it’s the real deal, it stands the test of time – IMHO.