Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can You Guess the Fishing Lure?

Can You Guess the Fishing Lure?

In March 1956, esteemed outdoor writer Homer Circle described the process of creating a new fishing lure in his regular column in the often overlooked magazine The Fishermen. Because the lure had not been released yet, he could not name either the firm that developed it or the name of the lure itself. Using the clues provided, I imagine most of you can guess what lure he was talking about.

For years, the great debate that preoccupied lure designers was whether color or action was the primary motivating factor in successful lures. Now, for the first time, Circle argued there was a new prime agent: sound.

Although for many years, people have known that fish hear sounds, "it wasn't until last year that the research team of a plug manufacturer stumbled across the principle of sound being given off by a fishing lure." It's a fascinating story of how it happened that Homer went into in depth:

They were working in pairs, one walking on the bottom of the lake using a water lung for breathing and lead weight to hold him down. The other sat in the boat, casting over known 'hot spots.' What they were really after was data on a) how various lures look to a fish's eye as they wriggle through the water, and b) how most fish hit a lure.

Suddenly their studies took them to a deeper hole where the water was turbid, or cloudy, probably from the bottom feeding carp of catfish, and visibility was so poor the diver couldn't see the lure. But he could hear it go past him!

Armed with this idea, the two theorized that if a human could hear the lure under water, even in a diving suit, than a fish could certainly hear it far better and from much further away. So they set out to design a lure on this principle. "They excitedly reported their theory at a research meeting and it touched off a series of underwater experiments with all types of lures." They brought in scientists who taught them that humans are capable of hearing sound cycles from 30 to 15,000 per second, while fish heard vibrations from 35 to 9,000 cycles per second.

Armed with this scientific data, the company's lure design team (headed by an outside consultant) spent a year designing a lure that would vibrate at the optimal cycle for fish -- determined to be between 7000 and 8000 vibrations per second. They settled on a design after lots of trial-and-error, and after months of tank testing took it out on the water in a series of top-secret field tests.

What they discovered is that the lure took fish in weather and water conditions where other lures would not. As Homer concluded, "Thus did science, research and a lot of hard work produce another item for a fisherman's tackle box which will bring him pleasure--and fish--during this season and for years to come. Proving that good lures, like fishermen, are not simply born, they're made."

The following month the lure was launched with one of the most impressive advertisement campaigns in all of modern tackle history. It went on to be one of the best sellers for the firm's history, and one of its best fish catchers, too.

Can you guess what lure Homer Circle wrote about, but couldn't mention for another month? Hint: it was a HUGE seller. Click here for the answer.

I'll post a bit more about the history of this interesting lure next week.

-- Dr. Todd

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