Vintage Tackle Contest: The Jim Bo

Swim baits are quickly becoming one of the most popular lure styles around, and though major advances have only recently been made in this lure category, predecessors go way back. Take the Jim Bo pictured below. This photo was sent in by Steve Plock, and you can bet this bait was sticking big bass long before the multi-jointed, kickin' tail, sexy-paint-job wearing swim baits of today. Steve wrote:

I found this a while back in my dad's old tackle box and thought the 3-cent stamp might be worth something, so I put it away for safe keeping. I'm not sure when he got this lure because I can't read the post mark on the box. I have never used the lure, knowing I would get it hung up or snagged on something and lose it. So I'm hoping you can tell me which is worth more, the lure or the stamp?

According to vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog, you not only found an early swimmer, but one with a chaotic story. Dr. Todd says:

"You have a fascinating lure with a very complex history on your hands! The Jim Bo was a very early "swim bait" invented by Jim Bryan of Largo, Florida in 1952 (patented in 1959). It was one of the very first "direct marketing" lures, owing its tremendous popularity to a huge number of newspaper ads taken out across the country. The Jim Bo has such a convoluted history it took five articles to straighten it out on my Fishing for History blog. This is because it was produced at various times in Florida, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Yours is an original that we know predates 1959, the year they stopped using the "pat. pending" marking. They are common but in the original packaging I would estimate their value at $20-$30. To see the patent and a series of articles about the Jim Bo, click here."

At least now you know the lure is worth more than the face value of that stamp, Steve. You'll have to find a stamp collecting blog if you want your stamp appraised. Great find, and enjoy the Cabela's 50th Anniversary Duffle Bag that's en route to your mailbox.

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 fstackle@gmail.com, 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 Cabela's 50th Anniversary Duffle Bag (below, $70).