I’ve purchased a lot of lures through the years. Friends and industry relations have given me thousands more.
Most of them will catch fish … maybe all of them will. You know the old axiom: The worst lure fished in the best place will catch more fish than the best lure fished in the worst place.
Hard to argue with that.
When I look at a lure, I can usually see what it’s designed to emulate and how it’s supposed to work. A lot goes into a good fishing lure, but the basic concepts are usually pretty straightforward. You build something that looks like forage, add a line-tie, put a hook in it, and you’re good to go.
Ultimately, however, even a good lure is only as good as the angler using it.
But the bad lures? Now we’re talkin’.
A lure is only truly bad when it’s consistently unsuccessful in the hands of a talented fisherman. After all, if you gave me the mythical “best-lure-ever” and gave Kevin VanDam a tennis shoe with treble hooks in it, the smart money is still on KVD to beat me like a drum.
A lot of the lures that get mentioned when anglers talk about the worst lures ever made really aren’t that bad. The Flying Lure, for example, gets a bad rap. If you don’t think a jig that glides away from you has value, you’ve never fished a boat dock.
The Helicopter Lure is practically a punch line in the fishing industry, but I know some terrific fishermen who still slay bedding bass with it during the spawn.
The old Heddon beer can crankbaits? Well, those were novelty lures — not something anyone was supposed to use. Nevertheless, they’ll catch fish if you throw them in the same places and at the same times you’d use a square bill.
Even the Banjo Minnow is little more than a variation of a weightless Fluke or plastic worm, and I’ve caught more bass on a weightless worm than anything else in my entire life.
None of these legendary bad baits are even close to as bad as the lure I think of when choosing the worst lure of all time.
My choice is so bad that some assembly is required. It comes in eight parts that you have to snap together like some piece of junk from IKEA. (Don’t get me started!)
My choice is so bad that it doesn’t even emulate something you’d commonly think of as a forage item.
My choice is so bad that the part of it designed to draw the strike is not even in the water! That’s right — no typo there. In fact, the product tagline was “Never Fish Underwater Again.”
You know … unless you actually want to catch something.
My choice for the Worst. Lure. Ever. is the Hover-Lure.
The Hover-Lure was the product of some overactive imaginations and underactive intellects. The part of the lure designed to draw a strike is a dragonfly imitation about two inches long. It obscured a little gold hook, and — get this! — the whole thing “hovered” above a slab of plastic designed to look like a lily pad.
I have a Hover-Lure in my personal collection. I bought it on eBay because I’m fascinated by such monumental misfires. And while I don’t want to imply that the Hover-Lure suffered from shoddy craftsmanship, I can tell you that the dragonfly came with spare wings … and bodies … and eyes … and a spare lily pad.
As you can see from the packaging, the Hover-Lure was marketed as “The most unique fishing system on the market today.” I would have added, “or ever.”
Now I don’t know about you and your concepts of good bait design, but I consider actual contact with the water to be a minimum requirement for consistent fishing success. Come into my office and tell me your bait doesn’t get wet until after a fish strikes it, and I’m going to tell you I’ve spotted a flaw in your system.
Then I’m going to call the authorities and have you forcibly removed.
If you think I hate the Hover-Lure, however, you are mistaken. I love it!
I love it because it shows one end of the spectrum — though maybe not the good end — of lure design. I love it because someone, somewhere had a dream (nightmare?) and saw it through the design and manufacturing processes, got it packaged and even distributed a few. I love it because that designer must have been told no — or probably “Hell no!” — a thousand times before ever hearing yes, but he kept right on going. I love it because we should have bass tournaments in which the only bait you’re allowed to use is the Hover-Lure. I love it because Homer Circle endorsed it. I love it because the Hover-Lure jingle is the worst song since “Betty Davis Eyes.” I love it because there will never be another lure like it.
I love it because I have one … and I’ll bet you don’t!