This week in our ongoing vintage tackle contest we have what is arguably the predecessor of the modern swimbait. The photo was sent in by Davin Grau, who acquired these Vivif lures and a few others as family “hand-me-downs.” Vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog explains why the Vivif became one of the best-selling lures of all time in the U.S.


Dr. Todd says:

__”The Vivif’s revolutionary marketing campaign and design–in many ways it was the original swimbait–were decades ahead of the curve. Patented in 1952 in France by Emile Planes, it rocketed to the forefront of the American angling world when it was acquired by Harrison Industries. The Vivif was originally imported by Rockland Tackle in 1954, but its rights were purchased by Hoge in 1957 and he launched a massive media blitz that included full page ads in most major American magazines as well as the dynamic “Fish-o-Rama” demonstrations at many tackle shops. The fishing public was sold and it soon became one of the best selling lures ever. Over the ensuing years tens of millions of Vivifs were made in a variety of styles and composites (rubber, PVC, and vinyl) and are still available, and catching fish, today. You have a nice set of vintage 1960s Vivifs — the smaller ones are worth around $5 each and the larger Musky size around $10. Although it was originally made in France, the Vivif is a classic American success story. For some vintage ads and a photo of the Fish-o-Rama display, click here



_Terrific find, Davin! Those lures are in such good shape it’s as though they were never fished. They look as clean and shiny as the new pliers headed your way. Congrats, and thanks for sending the photo.

If you’ve already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven’t and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers ($50).