The Harkins Lunker Lure was brought into the spotlight in 1976 after Rick Clunn nearly won the Bassmaster Cordell Hull event. Here's an ad from 1977 taken from National Bassman magazine.

Around 1976, news started buzzing about a new bait that was a real big-fish getter. In fact, Rick Clunn credited his 2nd-place finish on the dead sea known as Cordell Hull in the 1976 Bassmaster Trail to the Harkins Lunker Lure.

Here’s what was written about that lure in the November/December issue of Bassmaster Magazine by Bob Cobb.

“Rick Clunn of Montgomery, Tex. started fast, then faded. ‘I should have blown everyone out of it the first day with 22 to 25 pounds of bass, he said. He was dejected over missing three good bass, up to five pounds.

“The 29-year-old Conroe Lake guide weighed in nine bass and 17-lbs. 5-ozs. It was the only thing that kept the first-round weigh-in from government relief as a disaster area.

“Clunn added an air of mystery about a ‘secret’ topwater lure he used to excite his first-round catch that included the daily lunker leader, a five-pound largemouth.

“‘The lure was the key, but things changed,’ said Clunn, who revealed later that he was ‘buzzing’ a large prop-type lure called the ‘Lunker Lure’ in plop-plop fashion through flooded stick-ups and bushes along the old channel of Indian Creek. Clunn had picked up the lure during a bass fishing tournament in Illinois earlier.”

As with any new bait or technique, everyone at the time was going nuts about what the new buzzing lure was and where to get it. Well, for those who lived in Illinois, it was an easy deal. just call up Harkins Tackle Inc. and order some or go to your local tackle store and have them order them for you.

There had been several surface-type buzzers made over the years. They were classified as inline buzzers such as the Floyd’s Buzzer and the Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler and safety pin buzzers like the Burke Dedly Dudly and the Blakemore Twister. The problem with these baits was how fast you had to reel them to keep them on the surface. The new Lunker Lure, on the other hand, had a new patented prop design. The bait was lightweight and would come to the surface quicker than any other buzzing-type bait before it.

Not only did the bait come to the surface faster, it also made a nasty squeak when the prop started to wear against the rivet used at the back of the wire. That sound drove the fish nuts. Once anglers figured out that the buzzbait was more effective when making the squeak, they’d attach their Lunker Lures to their sideview mirrors or antennas. As they drove to the lake, the blades would wear faster – and thus make that awful squeak better.

Modern Lunker Lure along with some other manufacturers.

Within less than a year, most spinnerbait companies as well as Bass Pro Shops were offering their version of the buzzbait. Some purchased the right to use Harkins’ patented blade while others redesigned their own blades.

Then in the mid-80s, Lindy went further and designed the Clacker. This bait was designed such that the prop would hit the head of the lure making a thud, or “clack,” introducing even more noise to the situation. Soon after that you see the introduction of knockers on the wire form as well as special blades designed to hit the prop as it rotated.

Ever since the introduction of the buzzbait, it’s been known as a big-fish producer throughout the year, even in frigid winter temperatures. Offered in the colors of the rainbow, two stick out as the best producers, those being black and white. While the originals were adorned with the flat rubber skirt as the attractor, some of today’s buzzbaits can be fitted with a plastic toad-style bait to provide even more lift and buzzing.

Harkins Tackle Inc. was purchased by Hawg Caller in 2000 and then again sold to Five Star Industries in 2005. The baits are still made in Illinois, the same way they were in 1976. You can find them online at www.lunkerlure.com.