The Layfield Lure: "Colby Sorrels to the Rescue"
The ad featured today appeared in the April 1949 issue of Outdoor Life. It is a full 2/3 page ad for a lure that I do not remember seeing advertised before. I will be the first to admit that I know very little about Texas lures and so I asked one of the best "Texas Lure Collectors" I know, Colby Sorrels, to give us an idea where this lure fits into fishing history. He as done a great job in the following account.
"This ad highlights a turning point for the little east Texas lure. The original lure was designed by Jester L. Layfield of Powell, Texas and was granted patent 2,179,641 on November 14, 1939. It was one of the first small, wiggling, crankbaits. Jester and his brother Floyd "Cotton" Layfield were depression era famers with little money to spend on things like marketing a fishing lure. They carved lures to fish with.
The Layfield brothers soon had reputations as real fish catchers and everyone wanted one of their lures. Lacking the funds to mass produce the lures they decided to allow a part-time preacher, John A. Day, to produce a plastic version of the little diving lure. His’ Sunnybrook Lure Company took out the ad in Outdoor Life. This advertisement shows three bass lying on hay along with a casting rig. The ad credits Tom King of Trinidad with catching the three fish. Even though the ad states "TEXAS Bronzebacks Layed In The Hay" there were no smallmouth bass in east Texas at that time! The fish are largemouth bass, not smallmouth.
The ad also mentions "Hot Secrets" on how to catch bass and suggests the reader to send 50c for a copy. These little handbooks were readily available 25 years ago but like a lot of old tackle are much less common today.
Twelve lure colors are listed. Collectors can still find all of these colors today and several more. The list of features includes item 2 stating "It’s the finest and most accurate casting bait you ever handled". The lure increases your casting accuracy? The ad also mentions trolling the lure for great success. Trolling was more common among bass fisherman at the time.
Sunnybrook placed other advertisements during their short existence but this half page ad was meant to stir a desire for the lure that never materialized. They also created a colorful cardboard box for the lures. Money spent on half page advertisements, colorful boxes and little handbooks soon exhausted the available funds and Sunnybrook went out of business.
The Layfield lure saw a small surge in popularity during the 1980s and 1990s with other companies trying to re-introduce the little lure. Perhaps the most recent effort was by lure maker Storm and wrestler John "Bradshaw" Layfield. Throughout all of these many attempts, the Layfield lure never achieved much recognition and the original designers, the Layfield brothers, never made any money on the lure.
For those wanting more information on the Layfield lure, research past issues of the NFLCC Gazette. Houston Chronicle outdoor writer Bob Brister wrote several articles about the lure including a lengthy article for the February 1994 issue of Field & Stream."
Thank You Colby!
-- Bill Sonnett