Mention Whopper Stopper to a millennial and I’m sure you be returned with a blank stare. But mention the name to any boomer and I’m sure you’ll bring back memories of sore arms and a lot of bass. Today in Whopper Stopper Circa 1970, we’ll look at a catalog produced by the Sherman, TX, bait company from nearly 50 years ago and reminisce about the baits it produced.
First, I would like to give credit to Bass Fishing Archives supporter, AL Hustosky, for scanning the catalog and sending it on to us to share with you. Let’s get on to Whopper Stopper and the catalog.
Whopper Stopper was the brainchild of Texas car salesman and lure whittler named J. Fred Eder. He’d seen the results that the Bomber had produced in its short life and wanted a lure of his own. He carved a bait and started catching fish on it. Then he gave some baits to his buddies, who also caught fish on it and next thing you know, Eder is in the bait business.
Whopper Stopper started in 1945 with $5,000 and a four-man crew, that included Eder, Earl Noble, Fred Taylor, and Jodie Grigg. Their first lure was essentially an Original Bomber but with a heart-shaped bill.
By 1949 they’d built a lure business that would challenge rival Bomber Bait Company and had grown from 4 employees in a room above an automobile agency to 17 employees with their own building in Sherman. By the early 1950s, Grigg, who was the shop foreman and lead tinkerer, had moved the company from wooden baits to plastic injection-molded baits.
Then, sometime in the 1950s, Whopper Stopper acquired either A.D. Manufacturing, or the Hawk Lure Company, makers of the Bayou Boogie and the Hellbender (this is another story I intend to uncover) and added those baits to their line. By the late 1960s, Whopper Stopper was one of the biggest lure manufacturers in the U.S.
Enough history, let’s move on to the catalog.
First off, there is no date on the catalog anywhere. But from looking at the baits offered as well as some other catalogs, the era this seems to have been printed in was the late 1960s or early 1970s. If anyone out there knows the definitive date this catalog was released, please leave us a comment below.
The first page of the catalog, which is actually page 2, starts off with some fine words of wisdom on how to catch bass. It does have a little bit of selling in there but you have to remember, it’s a catalog trying to sell lures. Still, the wisdom they provide is accurate and not as hard selling as what you see on social media today.
The article or intro goes into depth of what to look for and how to determine what baits to fish under certain conditions and even where to find fish in certain seasons. The article is long and filled with information you would find in E. L. “Buck” Perry’s Spoonplugging book. It’s obvious the folks at Whopper Stopper had wisely followed Buck’s Concepts.
Pages 3 through 6 highlight what most every angler over 50 remembers about Whopper Stopper, the infamous Hellbender. This bait, along with another we’ll discuss soon, may not have had its original with Whopper Stopper, but with a company called A.D. Manufacturing of Monroe, LA. What I can say for certain is this lure singlehandedly helped me develop strength in my arms at an early age.
It didn’t matter if it was the 1/4-ounce 1000-series bait or the 5/8-ounce 900-series bait, they all fought harder than any fish. In fact, as you were reeling them in, you’d beg God to get bit so you could have a break.
The lure came in four sizes from the 1/4-ounce bait mentioned above to a 7/8-ounce bait that was 5-1/8-inches long. On page 3 of the catalog, Whopper Stopper gives a good detail on how to fish the bait and what kind of cover and structure to concentrate on.
Page 4 shows the entire stock color chart, while page 5 features the silver and gold metal plated finishes offered. Page 6 goes further with “Special Patterns” offered to the discriminating angler.
The next lure in line was the Bayou Boogie, possibly the first vibration bait offered by any tackle company. This bait was developed by Anthony D’Anna in 1946, applied for the patent in 1949. His company, the A.D. Manufacturing Company, of Monroe, LA lays claim to this bait and possibly the Hellbender.
What is uncertain from the research I’ve been able to uncover is it appears that D’Anna sold A.D. Manufacturing to Dave Hawk sometime in the early 1950s, prior to Hawk purchasing PICO, makers of the PICO Perch and the PICO Pop. This is where things get even more muddled because the PICO Perch was a spitting image of the Bayou Boogie. Who copied who is still a mystery to me, or did Hawk bring the Bayou Boogie to PICO and change the name? I doubt it was the later.
Anyway, by the early 1960s, Whopper Stopper had acquired both the Hellbender and the Bayou Boogie. Page 7 shows the “Special Patterns” not just in the Bayou Boogie but also in the Hellraiser, their topwater bait with the tail spinner.
Starting with the Bayou Boogie on page 8, this bait was offered in four sizes; 1/4-ounce, 1/3-ounce, 1/2-ounce, and 3/4-ounce. As with the Hellbender, page 8 not only provided size descriptions but also techniques on how to fish the bait. The Special Patterns on page 7 were only offered in the two mid sizes, while the full standard color chart was presented on page 9.
Then the Hellraiser then picks up on pages 10 and 11. The Hellraiser came in two sizes, 3/8-ounce and 1/2-ounce and enough colors to cover every fishing situation.
Pages 12 and 13 surprised me in a good way. The artwork looked like something you’d see out of Fishing Facts magazine and created by Wiley Miller. I have no idea who did the artwork but it is probably the best rendering I’ve seen out of a company lure catalog ever. Not only is this picture educational in general, it provides amazing detail as to which Whopper Stopper lures would work all over the fictitious lake. Take Whopper Stopper out of the picture and replace any similar lure and you have yourself an article from Fishing Facts.
The next lure on display was the Hellcat, a product of the Minnow Wars from the late 1960s. I’ve never thrown this particular minnow lure but I’ve acquired a few over the years. It’s not a particularly good-looking bait when compared to the Rapala, Bang-O-Lure, or even the Rebel Minnow, but I’m sure it caught some fish. Looking at the color chart on page 15, there’s nothing special there except I see No.-08, Strawberry Blond. Of the half dozen Hellcats I have, they are all this color.
For the spinnerbait anglers out there, page 16 will get you moving. Whopper Stopper’s version of the safety-pin fish catcher was the Whirlybird. The Whirlybird came in one size but two styles, the ever-popular twin spin, fashioned after the original Shannon Twin Spin and the single spin. What was different about this spinnerbait was its head. Lead encased in a Tenite plastic outer shell, this bait was said to be impervious to cracks, ships or peeling. The head also featured a monofilament weedguard, something that Virgil Ward and his Bass Buster Lure Company used on their spinnerbaits.
Page 18 offers one of the coolest baits I’d never laid eyes on until the mid-2000s. When I first saw the Dirtybird, the first image that popped into my head was the Chatterbait. The difference between this bait and the Chatterbait was that the metal lip was soldered to the hook eye and not free swinging. Yet, looking at the diagram, the bait does a lot of the same things a Chatterbait does.
The Dirtybird was constructed the same way the Whirlybird was, lead covered in Tenite plastic, so the head had a pretty big profile. The head was also fitted with a monofilament weedguard and skirt. It’s a cool concept, one I think would sell again today being the success of the Chatterbait.
The next page offered something for the saltwater angler – the Salty Boogie. Weighing in at 3 ounces, this was a bait for serious anglers for throwing in the surf or trolling. I never saw one of these baits but seeing it makes me wonder if this was the lure that gave Dennis Braid the idea to make his 8- and 12-inch versions that became so popular with saltwater anglers in the mid-1980s through today.
Page 20 offered what little Whopper Stopper had in the way of soft plastics. It’s not much to look at, four different pre-rigged worms and eels on heads, but these baits were popular sellers in the day.
The following page offered Whopper Stopper replacement parts for all of their baits. Special short-shank trebles, open-eye eye screws, swivel-mounted tail spinners, locking snaps, split rings, sinner blades and props. One of the only companies to offer replacement parts that I’ve seen. That was pretty forward thinking of them.
Although all Whopper Stopper baits hold a soft spot in my heart, page 22 is probably my favorite page in the entire catalog. It’s the patch page. Of the five patches present on this page, I have only one of them, that being patch No. 1. What this tells me is that I have to get busy finding the other four. But, from my experience doing this now for a number of years, every time I post something like this, eBay and the other auction sites go nuts.
The final page in the catalog is the continuation of page 2 and Whopper Stopper’s tip and techniques for fishing their baits. Take the time to read the entire two pages because what the company offered with respect to standard bass fishing tips are all valid today. It just goes to show you how little has changed between now and the 1970s. Well, not much has changed except for electronics and I’ll leave that argument for you all to discuss.
Whopper Stopper stayed a private business until early 1983 when James Heddon’s Sons bought the company in early 1983. Then in late 1983, Heddon sold to PRADCO. Since that time, Whopper Stopper lures have been discontinued to the point the only bait that remains is the Hellbender, marketed under the Heddon name.
I hope you all enjoyed this look back to the early 1970s and Whopper Stopper’s catalog. Again I’d like to thank Al Hustowsky for being so kind to scan and send us this to share with our readers.
If any of you out there have some old catalogs you’d like to share here on the Bass Fishing Archives, please drop us a note in the comments below and we’ll be in contact soon!
Meanwhile, if you’d like to got through the entire catalog, please see the gallery below. Click on the first image and scroll through the catalog using the arrows.
Boy-oh-boy, this is a wonderful catalog. You’re spot-on with your assessment of the artwork/illustrations. Beautiful. And that patches page has me drooling. I also really like the jig-eel rig pictured on page 20. That looks like a killer. The fact that the company offered lure replacement parts seems unusual to me. I wonder if they also offered kit boxes containing various parts. I’m a sucker for stuff like that.
Good question David on the kit boxes. I have no clue. It’s the first time I’ve seen any company provide parts for their baits. Glad you like the catalog! It is definitely one that brings back memories- although my arms did have some phantom pains after looking through it. 🙂
I AGREE WITH YOU THAT THEY OFFERED REPLACEMENT PARTS WAS UNUSUAL. I SEE THAT THE EEL TAIL THAT THEY USE HAS THE SAME MARKINGS AS THE TAIL ON THE MAR-LYNN POMME SPECIAL. I HAVE THE 3 D MOLD FOR THE REAPER TAIL NOW AND HAVE BEEN MAKING MY OWN, SINCE YOU CAN’T BUY THEM ANY MORE. BEST, DOC
TERRY, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP IN BRAIN FOG CONCERNING THE DIRTYBIRD LURE MADE BY WHOPPER STOPPER. THERE IS NO MARKING OR IDENTIFICATION ON THE DIRTYBIRD. THE METAL LIP IS HELD ONTO THE HOOK EYE BY A RIVET. IT IS NOT SOLDERED ON AS THAT WOULD BREAK. YOU CAN ACTUALLY TUNE THE BILL AND MAKE IT RUN TO ONE SIDE. THE RIVET DOES NOT HOLD THE BILL FROM MOVING AND MAY BE ON PURPOSE. I CAUGHT LOTS OF FISH ON THOSE LURES IN THE 1970’S AND GREW MUSCLES FROM THROWING THE HELLBENDERS. IN FACT, I ONLY HAVE ONE OF THE DIRTYBIRD LURES LEFT BUT QUITE A FEW HELLBENDERS! AS ALWAYS, GREAT WORK AND THANK YOU FOR PRESERVING PIECES OF FISHING HISTORY THAT MAY HAVE BEEN LOST FOREVER. BEST, DOC WITTMER