The Long Island Manufacturing Company's Flasher Lures
The first time I saw a “Long Island Flasher” lure was at a NFLCC lure show about 25 years ago. As I recall, it looked a little like a Heddon Vamp and was painted with a cream colored body and a blue head. The paint had a pearlescent luster that was extremely attractive. There was no one at the show who had any idea what the lure was or who had made it. The most memorable thing about the bait was the strange and beautiful paint job.
I had seen a similar pearlescent effect on a Shakespeare Jr Swimming Mouse that I had purchased in 1957. It caught countless Bass over the years. That pearlescent paint always looked great in the water and I attributed much of the lure's success to the plug's finish. As the years rolled by I was always hopeful that I could find another Shakespeare Mouse in the same color as a “back-up” in case I lost the one I had. This was before the NFLCC and lure shows brought forth an endless supply of old baits to fish with. My solution at the time was to attempt to turn out some “swimming mice” bodies on a lathe from white cedar. Lets just say that no two ever turned out exactly the same, but most swam well, all be it at vastly different depths. What I really wanted was to duplicate that pearlescent finish that had been so successful to begin with. At that time I was doing a lot of bird taxidermy and some fish taxidermy. A taxidermy supplier sold a base coat for fish mounts that was made with powdered fish scales. I had purchased some but never used it. I painted one of my homemade mice with it and it produced a nice pearlescent effect, though somewhat whiter that my original Shakespeare bait. That homemade bait caught fish like crazy. After a year or two it started to change color and take on a pinkish hue eventually becoming a flesh color. Though it has darkened over the last thirty plus years it still maintains some of the pearlescent effect.
A few weeks ago, I ran across the first advertisement for a “Flasher Lure” I have ever seen. It is in the May 1934 issue of Field & Stream. I was delighted to see that it contained the “secret” of that pearlescent paint job. The lure was “finished with an extract made from the protective film covering fish scales”. I don't think they are talking about the slimy coating on the outside of a fish, but rather something off the surface of the scales themselves. Playing off the somewhat recent popularity of the battery operated flashlight the finish was called “Flash-O-Lite”.
It is generally agreed among those who collect them, that this ad represents the approximate time when the Long Island Manufacturing Co started to sell its line of “Flasher” lures. There is not much advertising to be found and the collectors I spoke to all feel that they did not remain in production past the beginning of World War II. The pictures of “Flasher” lures shown here were provided by Gary Deppe to who I am very grateful for all his help. Enjoy some of these beautiful lures compliments of Gary.
-- Bill Sonnett