Edith Bunker You're Not Alone!
Today's ad from the April 1938 issue of Outdoor Life features six “Dingbats” from the Creek Chub Bait Company. Careful reading of the ad shows that the “New Dingbat” has been out for “more than a year”. The “Midget Dingbat”, the “Musky Dingbat”, the “Surface Dingbat” and the two sizes of “Flyrod Dingbats” are all presented as “new” baits for 1938.
Though familiar with the more recent use of the term”Dingbat” as popularized by Archie Bunker, I attempted to find the origin of the word by consulting more than a half dozen on-line dictionaries. I wish these folks could come up with some common consensus on where this word comes from. Seems back in the 1830's is was an alcoholic drink. Since that time it has had several meanings including: a simple design used by Printers to separate paragraphs as well as outline pages, objects thrown at others and several meanings that involve subjects not appropriate for children or this website. The more recent meaning, that of “a foolish person”, seems to have been around for at least 80 years.
What most “Creek Chub” collectors would really like to know is how the name was selected for this somewhat distinctive bait. That question was answered in detail by Ron Mathews in an article in the June 2010 NFLCC Gazette. "Dingbat" was the nickname of the boyfriend, and later the husband, of a longtime Creek Chub employee.
For the complete story, check out Ron's fine article.
I have met several folks (mostly older fishermen who were fishing in the 1940's and 1950's) who were very impressed with the Dingbat's ability to catch larger bass. Recently there has been an enthusiastic revival, by many collectors, in the use of vintage equipment and baits in bass fishing. I have seen a couple of strong testimonials on Joe's Board as to the fishing catching powers of the Dingbat. There was an article in Sporting Classics magazine in the early 1980's entitled: “Forgotten Favorites” (or something close to that). It discussed plugs that were no longer made that had good reputations as fish catchers with those who used them. Among the baits featured there was a strong endorsement for the Surface Dingbat as good medicine for very large Smallmouth Bass. I must admit, in trying old baits I have never given the Dingbats (underwater or surface) a very lengthy test. Both always seemed somewhat air-resistant when cast and I never got the hang of making the Surface Dingbat do anything really exciting on top of the water. I hope ignoring these famous baits while experimenting with “old plugs” does not make me qualify as a “Dingbat”.
-- Bill Sonnett