By Joe Cermele
This old Snag Proof worm was entered into the vintage tackle contest by David Dunlap, who tells me it was among the contents of a few old tackle boxes purchased at a garage sale. Snag Proof is still in business, but I picked this one because I figured some of you may have this same lure, and hey, if it happens to be worth some money, you’d know not to fish it anymore. Turns out per Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog that this lure is in existence largely because of Field & Stream, and the Doc had a pretty interesting conversation with the Snag Proof folks about it.
Dr. Todd says:
_”Snag Proof–one of the most under appreciated tackle makers of the post-war era–has a history tied directly to Field & Stream. Since they are still making world-class bass lures less than five miles from my house, on a whim I decided to call them. The very nice lady who answered the phone was Connie Fuller, who happened to be the daughter of the founder of Snag Proof, Harry Ehlers, and who runs the company with her brother. The information on your lure comes directly from her. As it turns out, around 1956 or 1957, Ehlers, an advertising executive for Totes (makers of rain gear), witnessed the process of manufacturing a rubber boot. A dedicated bass fisherman who particularly liked fishing weedy farm ponds, he immediately saw the utility of applying this process to the manufacture of bass lures. Dedicating his evenings and weekends, he began prototyping the soft rubber frog which became his first lure. He’d start with a balsa model, dip it in rubber, and cure it on the kitchen stove in boiling water. “He ruined a lot of pots and pans,” Connie told me. Here’s where the connection to Field & Stream came in. After he was happy with his design, he took out a small classified ad in the back of Field & Stream magazine. It attracted attention immediately. “I remember as a kid my job was to open up all the mail,” Connie noted. Field & Stream proved so successful that in 1961 he had raised enough money to found his company, which he named Snag Proof, in Cincinnati. 52 years later they’re still making soft rubber baits in the Queen City, a true American success story. Connie told me with pride that Harry’s first employee–Richard Patman–is still the company’s plant foreman! Your particular Snag Proof lure dates from around 1970, and has a collector value of around $5-$7. But I would bet that if you fished this lure in a weedy pond against almost any other lure available today, you’d come out ahead. Click here to see some 1960s Snag Proof kits and a 1990 Field & Stream ad.”
Great find, David. It’s funny, because these days that same worm probably costs five bucks new at the tackle shop…so you kinda broke even. But what a killer story! Thanks for sending, and keep an eye on your mailbox, because there’s a set of Berkley Aluminum Pliers headed your way.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 (above) worth $50.