At one of the first NFLCC shows I attended in 1985, I saw something that caught my eye. It was a #9400 floating River Runt Spook with a deep diving lip on it. The thought crossed my mind at the time that this was a combination that I had not seen before. Some years later I attempted to collect all the River Runt Spook variations in one color. Try as I might, I never saw another 9400 with a deep diving lip in any color. Fast forward more than 25 years and it finally dawned on me what I had been looking at......
The following ad appeared in the July,1950 issue of Fur Fish Game. Beside this ad for the "Heddon Go Deeper River Runt" is an article by Robert Page Lincoln giving a brief history of the invention and success of this new diving lip. He thought it important enough to include a shortened version of this account in his 1952 book Black Bass Fishing which culminated his lifetime of writing about Bass fishing.
For some years Mr. Abe Saint of Tulsa Oklahoma had been making and installing a flat deep diving lip of his own design on River Runt Spooks for his personal use. It was a big improvement over the large scoop-shaped diving lip that Heddon had introduced on their Go Deeper River Runt Spooks in 1940. River Runts with Heddon's scoop-shaped lip tended to role over if drawn through the water too fast and would not run as deep as ones equipped with Abe Saint's lip. Word got around that Abe was taking fish with his deep running lures that other folks just could not reach. First he installed his lip on River Runts for his close friends. He then made them available to the general public through local sporting goods stores and by mail. His lip was designed so that installation simply required removing the lip from a River Runt Spook and replacing it using the existing screw holes. The original line tie also needed to be removed to accommodate the new lip. A new line tie was an integral part of the replacement lip.
Long time NFLCC collector Joe Nelson tells me that Abe Saint would visit his father's sporting goods store in Guthrie Oklahoma and install the lip on existing unsold stock of River Runts. The lures that Abe changed over himself were identified by the red paint that he applied to the screw heads after instillation. He also sold individual lips in small cellophane envelopes so fishermen could do the installation themselves.
Demand for Abe's lip got to be so great that he could not comfortably handle all the orders. Soon he sold Heddon the rights to his flat diving lip. They recognized that Abe's lip was superior to their own in every respect and admitted as much in their advertising.
1949 brought the introduction of the new, flat, deep diving lip on the Heddon Go Deeper River Runt Spooks, replacing the the older scoop lip which was discontinued. The new design was a big success, as really deep diving plugs were few and far between at that time.
The following photos illustrate the differences between the original Abe Saint lips and those produced by Heddon.
Good fishermen are always experimenting and occassionaly, like Ab Saint's diving lip, they hit the nail on the head.