Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

The Moonlight Fish Nipple

The Moonlight Fish Nipple is a very different sort of bait that is seldom seen in collections. I believe this is due to two reasons. First. the bait seems not to have much “collector appeal” as far as appearance. Secondly and more importantly, very very few genuine Fish Nipples have survived and those that have are in pretty rough shape. The whole situation is complicated by the fact that an almost identical lure was produced in Jackson Center, Ohio in the 1940's and early 1950s under the name “Old Timer Nipple-Dipper”.

The first piece of evidence presented here is an actual photograph of the Moonlight Fish Nipple from a 1912 ad in National Sportsman magazine. The second is an illustration from a Moonlight Bait Company catalog, courtesy of Bob King. There is an important point to observe. The rear edge of the rubber nipple is rolled into a noticeable ridge. This feature is missing on the later “Old Timer-Nipple Dipper”. The Moonlight Bait Company catalog speaks of casting the bait into lily pads or trolling it deep. In fact, the only story I have seen in magazines of that day that mentions using the “Fish Nipple” speaks of it as a successful, deep trolling bait that "saved the day" when other baits failed..

Finally, we present a photo of an “Old Timer Nipple-Dipper and the unique plastic tube that it was sold in. The directions for its use are quite different than those suggested for the earlier Moonlight bait. It is suggested that a 15 to 20 ft cane pole be rigged with 6 ft of 50 lb test line and the bait tied on the end to be “spatted” and “jiggled” on the surface creating a “sucking sound.” Byron Dalrymple, a prominent outdoor writer of the time, wrote of the success he witnessed with this bait and method at Buckeye Lake in Ohio. My first encounter with the Old Timer Nipple-Dipper was seeing one in the tackle box of a friend of my father in 1957. His comment at the time was that the bait was proving very successful with bass at Buckeye Lake.

-- Bill Sonnett

No comments: