I follow eBay closer than I probably should, and about a year ago I began to notice one gentleman making small glass minnow tubes and selling them for a reasonable price.
Now, I'd made a few of these back in the day and utilized the time-honored method of putting a few Lightning Bugs inside so I could fish them at night. And believe it or not they caught fish. But I didn't realize until recently that it was a very, very old idea. So old, in fact, that in 1921 Forest & Stream featured this very idea in their "how-to" pages. Here is the article they ran in its entirety.
WILLIAM P. OSBORN, '24, of the New York State College of Forestry, has some advanced and entirely original ideas in making nature supply the office performed by artificial contrivances in the way of fish hooks. Izaak Walton probably never dreamed that the battery in the tale of a firefly would lure the wily bass at night with its intermittant illumination. But the imagination of William P. Osborn, who has adopted forestry as his chosen profession, reaches into unexplored fields, beyond which the fisherman's fancy, as active as it may be, has never soared.
By imprisoning fire-flies in a small glass phial and rigging the phial with an ingenious arrangement of hooks the black bass has been found to exhibit fatal and unwonted attraction for the phosphoric scintillations emitted by the jocund fire-fly held within the glass bottle. According to Mr. Osborn's statement, he has seriously disappointed many a sturdy bass who with visions of delight and great rapacity swallowed hook, line and sinker whenever in the night time the inventor has invaded the waters of bass territory with his lure.
Mr. Osborn states: "The lure for night fishing which I contrived last summer is effective yet simple in construction. An ordinary tubular pill bottle is fitted with a harness of gut to which are fastened three pronged hooks, two on the sides and one at the end. The bottle is then equipped with a swivel similar to a wooden minnow. Before using, four or five good sizes fire flies are placed in the bottle and the the bottle is corked tight.
"This lure has been used with good success in trolling and casting from shore. Bass fall for it and I should think the pickerel would also. The only drawback is that new fire flies have to be placed in the bottle every fifteen or twenty minutes. To overcome this, I substituted some Radiolite luminous buttons, sticking them to the insides of the bottle with the luminous side next to the glass. This makes a permanent bait."
A neat idea and something all of us could make in less than an hour!
-- Dr. Todd