Saturday, July 14, 2012

Deconstructing Old Ads: The Bon Net (1953)


The BON-NET lure, distributed by the W. H. Hobbs Supply Company of Eau Claire Wisconsin, is the subject of the following advertisement from the June 1953 issue of Field & Stream Magazine. This is not a lure that is seen much outside the State of Wisconsin and it is not often seen advertised in nationally distributed “Outdoor” magazines.

The BON-NET's resemblance to a 6-hook version of the Heddon #300 “Surfusser” is no accident. I learned many years ago that it was produced to satisfy the demands of Musky fishermen after Heddon discontinued the 6-hook “Surfusser”.

We learn from Dick Slade's Fishing Tackle of Wisconsin that only 12,000 of these baits were ever produced and that the Arnold Bait Company of Paw Paw, Michigan was contracted to produce it. As a regional bait, it is not surprising that not much advertising is seen in the “Big Three” magazines of the day (Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield). Being a popular Musky lure, it is even less surprising that few are found in good shape. Not only were they being used for the “fish of a thousand casts” but a Musky is pretty rough on any painted wooden lure and the Arnold Bait Company wasn't exactly known for their durable paint jobs. Another reason for the scarcity of BON-NET's might be the price tag. $2.75 was a lot to pay for a fishing lure in 1953 when the average wage in the united States was $4,700 a year!
Many States today have a limit on the number of hooks one can have on the end of the line. There is a current debate in several States as to the legality of the “Alabama” type rigs due to the number of hooks involved. It would be interesting to know in how many States the BON-NET, with its six treble hooks, would currently be legal to use.

As an aside, the cover painting on this June 1953 magazine was later used as the cover of the 1956 L. L. Bean Spring Catalog. It is currently being sold in a “re-interpreted” version with updated clothing and hair styles by L.L. Bean as a wall hanger. Needless to say I prefer the original. LOL

-- Bill Sonnett

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