Today we’re continuing down the path of 1979 tackle ads placed in the bass magazines of the day. Whopper Stopper 1979 has only two ads, but these two ads were placed in nearly every issue of every bass magazine I found.
By 1979, the Sherman, Texas-based company was on its way out. The coming of bass tournaments, the advent of the alphabet-style crankbait, as well as the contemporary deep diver. was putting a hurt on Whopper Stopper. Their best-selling bait of all time, the Hellbender, was a bait that was primarily trolled, and trolling wasn’t allowed in bass tournaments. On the other hand, the Bayou Boogie was falling short due to the new Rat-L-Trap and th’ Spot.
Whopper Stopper made plenty of other baits, but if you’re a tackle collector, you know the Hellbender and Bayou Boogie can still be found with ease. Try to find a Whirly Bird, Dirty Bird, a Hellraiser, or a Hellcat, and you’ll be looking for a while. These lures weren’t produced in the volumes the former two were.
What I find curious is it seems Whopper Stopper wasn’t moving ahead with the industry, like Bomber Bait Company was. Bomber’s reaction at this time was to start producing a contemporary crankbait, the Model A (1977), as well as produce a contemporary spinnerbait, the Bushwhacker. Their introduction of these two baits kept the company relevant. Whopper Stopper continued resting on their laurels, which would bite them in the rear a couple years later.
The lead-in ad shows what I’m talking about.
This half-page ad features all of Whopper Stopper’s products at the time. In the upper left if their answer to the Rapala and Rebel Amazing Minnow, the Hellcat. I have seen a few of these baits in the wild, but they’re rare these days.
Below that bait is the famous Bayou Boogie and then the Dirtybird. Like the Hellcat, the Dirtybird is a very difficult bait to find these days, which leads one to believe that not many were produced over the lifespan of the company.
In the upper right is Whopper Stopper’s claim to fame, the Hellbender. This bait cleaned house in the 1950s through the early 1970s but, as stated above, was mainly used as a trolling lure. By the time this ad was placed, the lifespan of this lure was quickly coming to an end.
Next in the ad was the Hellraiser topwater bait and the Whirlybird spinnerbait. As with the Hellcat and the Dirtybird, these lures are hard to find, which leads me to believe there weren’t many of them made, comparatively speaking.
The next and final ad of the year was a bit surprising. It featured the new Crapshooter, a shallow-diving version of their Hellbender in their new Foto Finishes. I guess the design team at Whopper Stopper took a bit of a hint from the Big-O crowd and felt they needed a shallow running crankbait to add to their repertoire. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is what bass anglers were asking for.
The new Foto Finishes were a nice addition to their line, but what I really like, from a collecting standpoint, is the 7-Come-11 collectors’ edition. I’ve never seen one of these in person and would bet not many of them were made. The Crapshooter came in two sizes, 1/4- and 1/2-ounce, as well as five natural finishes.
This ad was a mail order offer, two Foto Finish baits and the 7-Come-11 for $6.00. Great deal and I wish I’d have acted on that offer back at the time. Hindsight, right?
Four years after this ad was placed, Whopper Stopper sold to James Heddon’s Sons. Then, later in 1983, Heddon sold out to PRADCO. The only Whopper Stopper lure that exists today is the Magnum Hellbender, and it’s unfortunately sold under the Heddon brand.