Saturday, May 14, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Weedless Wizzard--Weedless Widow (1929)

Weedless Wizzard – Weedless Widow

Today's ad comes from the April 1928 issue of Outdoor Life.

Heddon was pushing the idea that “Frogs” were the answer to a maiden's prayer when it came to catching big bass. I particularly like the line, “Clean-Convenient-Effective-Humane.” One might think the “Humane” comment referred to the fact that somehow bass were less injured by using Heddon baits. Actually this alluded to the treatment of frogs. If you have ever used frogs as live bait or perhaps cleaned live frogs, harvested for a frog leg dinner, you no doubt have noticed the disquieting similarity of a struggling live frog to a small human being and heard (as alluded to elsewhere in the ad) their pitiful cries while being thus treated. There are two baits in the ad that are actually listed as “New.” The “Weedless Wizzard” and the “Zig-Wag” Both these lures were listed as new in the 1928 Heddon. Both these lures were again listed as “new” in 1929 ads. The 1929 Heddon catalog as well as 1929 ads showed the same pictures of the Weedless Wizzard but the name had been changed to the "Weedless Widow.” That name that would remain with the bait for many years to come and through many permutations until well after World War II. There has always been the story around (difficult to prove or disprove) that the name was changed to placate the Pflueger folks who had been using he name “Wizard” with one “Z” since the turn of the century.

I must admit that I always thought the Weedless Widow, particularly in the early large size, is a beautiful lure. I have noticed over the years that many new collectors are also struck by its graceful lines. When I first became acquainted with his lure in the early 1980s, I assumed from its shape that it was a plunking type surface bait. I tried fishing one of the later models thus and was quickly disappointed with its lack of action and tendency to lay over on its side. I should have read the catalog and ads. Much later I discovered, somewhat by accident, that the bait was actually intended to be reeled slowly across the surface where it wobbled in somewhat the same fashion as a later more famous bait, the Arbogast Jitterbug.

Many years later my long-time “fishing apprentice” Warren Platt mentioned that he had recently discovered the real niche for the Weedless Widow. Using the early model, Warren removed the weedguard, the wire leader and the belly hook (if it had one). The bait now landed hook-up on the water and could be “walked” with extreme side to side motion in very tight spaces. If one knew there was a bass in a particular spot, this invariably brought on a smashing strike after the lure danced briefly over the reluctant fish. There is one major problem. Hookups are very rare and landing a fish on the bait borders on nonexistent. This probably explains why a belly hook was added to the lure in 1930. So if you like lots of surface blowups but don't care about landing any fish, this is the bait for you!

Two well worn, early Weedless Widows. Remove the weed guards and you have "Warren Platt" Specials.

-- Bill Sonnett

1 comment:

Angel said...

Hi,My name is Angel,I start a Heddon collection and I bought a pair of weedless widow one is the same like yours,the other one don't say aniyhing in the belly,I want info about the lures if you can help of course,Thanks .