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These days, I’d say anglers take electronics for granted. We have side-scanning sonar, GPS-linked auto-pilots, and remote-controlled trolling motors. Of course it wasn’t always so, and it’s always interesting to see some early innovation in the electronics department. Take the Beetle-Bomb below, submitted into our vintage tackle contest by Gregg Swanson, for example. Gregg wrote:

I think this came from an auction I went to here in Geneseo, IL. It’s called a Beetle-Bomb made by Semco. On the back side is printed, Southwest Eng. & Mfg. Co. Fort Worth, Texas. On the top it says Transistor Fish Caller. It looks like you tied it through the two small holes on the wings and lowered it in the water. There are no instructions.



According to vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog, you have upped the ante on weirdness in this contest. Dr. Todd says:

___”I have to say, this is the strangest piece of tackle entered so far. It’s a Beetle-Bomb invented by Ray Basham, an employee of Rawco Instruments in Fort Worth, Texas in 1964. It is a battery powered electronic “fish caller” that emits an intermittent underwater chirp. Basham claimed in a 1964_ Popular Science_ article that “the beeps will bring fish from 200 to 300 yards away.” Soon after Basham licensed the manufacture of the Beetle Bomb to Southwest Engineering & Manufacturing Co., also of Fort Worth. While I doubt that the Beetle-Bomb worked, it is really cool looking and an interesting piece from the early days of electronic fishing, and I feel its value would be $30-$40 in the box. To see the Beetle-Bomb in action, click here.”_


If I owned that Beetle-Bomb, considering it’s in such good condition, I might be inclined to drop it off the boat and see if it calls in a lunker. Excellent find, Gregg. Your new Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Trout Net is on its way! Special thanks to our friends at Cabela’s for providing these awesome nets as prizes for the next few weeks.

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 limited edition Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Trout Net (above, $90).