The Johnson’s Automatic Striker was patented in 1935 by a dentist named Carl A. Johnson from Chicago, Illinois. As all of the boxes state on the front -- “Strikes When The Fish Strikes” -- these lures were designed to eliminate the guess work as to when the hook should be set. They were equipped with a mechanical release so when the fish struck, the hook partially disengaged from the lure. The strike resulted in a direct pull from the line tie through a wire connected to the hook. They are believed to be the first lure to use the breakaway hook system.
They were originally made in three sizes, a Large Size for Muskie and Large Game Fish that measured 6 1/2 inches and weighed 1 3/4 ounces, a Medium Size that measured 3 inches and weighed 1 1/4 ounces, and a Small Size that measured 2 inches and weighed 3/4 ounce. Later there was a smaller size that measured 1 3/4 inches, but they are not listed on any paperwork that I have been able to find. The smallest ones are also the toughest of all to find! The first three original sizes were only offered in Gold Flash and Silver Flash - Natural Scale Finish. Gold Flash indicates orange on the bottom of the lures, while Silver Flash indicates yellow on the bottom of the lures. That part makes no sense to me, but hey…
The part of the Natural Scale Finish does make sense though, and looks very life-like. The first three original sizes sported eyes with glass pupils and tack eye centers that were all inset inside a finely detailed painted “bull’s-eye” and they also had tails that moved from side to side when retrieved. The smallest lures were painted in various less life-like colors and either had no eyes, or painted eyes.
What a clever idea Mr. Johnson had when designing these, and if you ever look up U. S. Patent #2017903, you will see just how clever and precise this man was. I could go on and on and on about the intricacies of these unique lures, but don’t worry, I won’t! For some reason, any time that I see a Johnson’s Automatic Striker lure, I think of a medieval knight in his shining armor.
If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.