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My Most Expensive Bait Ever

Posted: November 21st, 2013 by Bill Dance

I was asked once, “What’s the most expensive lure you’ve ever fished?” Well, I tell ya, I can certainly recall it with little effort. It was way back when I was at the beginning of my fishing career, and money was not something you put on the line…especially on a line surrounded by stumps, logs, trees, and other things that could cause you to lose it forever!

That was back in the early 1960s and I had a friend named Tom Wiggins that was a fishing lure sales rep. And he gave me a balsa lure from Finland called a Rapala.

“Don’t lose it, ’cause it costs $25,” Tom told me.

WOW! That put the fear of financial failure in me. (Remember, this was way back there in the ’60s, and $25 was the equivalent of much, much more today. And again, I was young and just starting out.) But yep, if I let my thoughts travel a bit, I can still remember looking at that black and gold bait and thinking–TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS! It was probably more like $1,000 today. I also remember thinking about losing it and then having to go home and tell me wife I just had to pay that much money for a fishing lure!

But regardless of risk, I finally got my nerve up and went fishing with it at Tunica Cut-Off, a Mississippi River oxbow in North Mississippi. (Hey, a die-hard angler is gonna do what it takes, or costs, to catch fish!) I’d never fished a stick bait before and all I had to go on was what Tom told me, that it was a semi-topwater and just-under-the-surface lure.

It was definitely an experiment from day the start. I could only hope it didn’t cost me. So, I tossed it out and twitched it a little on the surface, and then swam it a little. I targeted mostly sand bars and steered clear of cover because with that $25 price tag, I was very scared to lose it. I even started out fishing it on 30-pound line, as added insurance that I could hang on to it. Man! That was hard to cast, so I changed that line.

On that very first trip, I ended up catching 25 bass on it. These hand-carved and hand-tested lures were a really a big hit, despite the initial price. In fact, when the baits first appeared in the United States, many tackle store owners reserved the baits mainly for themselves and their friends.

I told Tom of my good fortune with the bait, and he let me keep it. I continued to fish it–very conservatively, mind you–and only in areas where I knew there was little to no chance of losing it. In fact, I still have it today.

Oh later lures, came along and I came to favor them, baits like the Bagley Bang-O-Lure, the Smithwick Rogue and the Bomber Long A. But that Rapala I first tossed in the 1960s had the most expensive price tag of any lure I’ve ever cast, and you better believe, back then, I was nervous every time I chunked it into the water! Heck, I still get kinda nervous thinking about it!

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance



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