Nichols Fishing Lures
| The lures that remain on the market today
Classic Lures by Nichols Lures
Coastal Vintage-Classic Lures
In order to conserve the future, people must respect and understand the past. Artificial lures from yesterday tell us a great deal about fishing lures that remain on the market today. Two old lures made in the early thirties influenced today's saltwater lure market - the Nichols Piggy Perch and Shrimp.
These two lures actually are predecessors of many of the lures anglers use today.
The original shrimp lures
The original shrimp was also handcarved, had glass eyes and was about three inches long. It was slender, with a long head section and a broad, flat, tail.
The Most of the shrimp had a slight bend from front to back, about two inches from the head. This lure was used like the Piggy Perch in shallow bays. Like the Piggy Perch lure, each shrimp was unique and was hand-painted.
Some lure makers had tried early plastics, but found them unstable
and liable to disintegrate after being exposed to small amounts
Nichols early plastic shrimp had legs and feelers and was a good imitation of a live shrimp. The black eyes, color, legs, and feelers all contributed to its natural appearance. Some of these plastic shrimp were painted with a splotched pattern of different browns, and spots of red and green.
One way of distinguishing these early plastic shrimp is to look down the back of the lure. Each shrimp is asymmetrical and usually has a slight curve to its body shape.
At least two other companies had also experimented with the idea of a plastic shrimp.
Heddon's Shrimpy-Spook and Florida Artificial Bait Company's Super-Strike were produced in the early thirties, but were short-lived and soon out of production.
The Piggy Perch Classic Lure
The earliest examples of Nichols' lures were very detailed and handcarved out of cedar, making each lure unique and slightly different.
Nichols, like many fishermen of his day, used live pinfish (locally known as piggy perch) for bait. Pinfish were not always available during the best times, so Nichols decided to imitate that baitfish with his own wooden replica.
The Piggy Perch was about two inches in length, had glass eyes, plastic fins, and a pronounced tail. The front of the lure was flat with a line tie the top angled down to a lead weight at the bottom. The lure's paint patterns closely represented the bright colors of pinfish found in Gulf waters. Like real pinfish, the lures were colored with green vertical stripes, yellow lateral lines and barring on the cheeks. The contrast of green, gold, yellow, and black made the lure one that any fish or fisherman would want.
The wooden fishing lure bacame very successful on the coast. Other fishermen soon noticed the catches Nichols was bringing home, and requested copies of his lure. Nichols could not satisfy that demand alone, and eventually he started a company with several employees.
The body of the lure changed over a period of years. The fins were the first detail to be omitted, then the tail. The result of these changes was the first vibrating lure. Contrasting forces produced by wood bouyancy, and the weighted, flat, sharp-angled nose of the lure, along with the small tail tail section, caused the vibrating action. The vibrating action created by the triangular lure caused small pressure waves that attracted fish.
Change in the body shape eventually happened for several reasons. Powerful strikes from trout and redfish usually destroyed the details, including the fins and tail. One improvement eliminated these damageable details, a step that also saved production steps and costs.
Other details may have been left off by accident. One version of Piggy Perch lure history states that the tail was sawed off as an experiment. Whether by accident or by design, Nichols had happened upon one of the truly innovative lures. This vibrating action would later be a characteristic that many other lure companies would imitate.
Sometime in the late thirties, an angler decided to try a Piggy Perch on freshwater bass, where it was succesful. This freshwater use and the resulting market would later prove to be a bonanza for the Nichols company.
Angling Lure Variations
The plastic industry changed greatly during the war, when plastics became stable and readily available for many uses. With improvements in plastic , Nichols switched both shrimp and piggy perch production to injection molded plastic. Then the fishing lures then could be produced in large quantities.
The invention of the quick-vibrating fishing lure that had made Nichols successful became known as the Pico Perch. One story states that in Spanish, the word pico means sharp or beak-like. The name actually came from the first letters in the company's name Padre Island CO. The sales information stated, "Here's the surface swimmer with the willing wiggle."
Many lures using the vibrating action were produced by other companies. Some lures used the triangular shape of the Pico Perch, including the Swimmin Minnow made by Tackle Industries of Shreveport (on photo below), Louisiana, the Bayou Boogie made by A.D. Mfg. Co. of Monroe, Louisiana, and the Sonic made by Heddon of Dowagiac, Michigan.
Some alert fisherman noticed a rattle in one of these early lures. The rattle was created when the weight in the nose worked loose. It was reported that fishermen would go to a tackle store and shake each lure, looking for one that rattled.
Fishermen would buy the lures that rattled because they caught more fish. Pinfish are known to produce a chattering noise when caught, a real attention getter for big trourt on the grass flats.
Another lure from this period was the Talking Perch made by Sportsmans Lure Company of Corpus Christi, Texas. Talking Perch came in many different colors and had a black spot painted on each side. This spot is a distinguishing mark on real pinfish.
Talking Perch have a loose weight rattle and the company's box insert stated, "The action of the Talking Perch creates noises that resemble those made by smaller fish. The result - a bigger catch for you!"
Some Texas fishing lures that carried the vibrating action had a body shape with a small tail. This shape was used by the Chubby Minnow made by Coastal Lure Co. of El Campo, the Fisherman's Favorite made by Sportsman Lure Co. of Corpus Christi, and Bingo Bait Co., also from Corpus Christi.
Today, many successful rattle lures have these first Piggy Perch imitators in their ancestry.
Lures like the Rat-L-Trap, Rattling Spot and Hot Spot use the rattle and vibrating features.
Designs with and without tails acheived their vibrating action through forces working against each other.
The latter Nichol's plastic shrimp had only a basic shrimp shape. After he sold his lure company, the owners decided to produce a shrimp with a diving lip made for freshwater, shortly after World War II.
An ad in the October, 1947 issue of Hunting and Fishing shows a shrimp with a lip, and states that it was designed for freshwater use.
Other plastic shrimp produced during that era included Fred A. Farmer's shrimp, Sportsmans Lure Company's Little Tobe and the Plugging Shorty shrimp, made by other lure companies like Doug English Lure Company, and later by Bingo Baits. One company, Schoolmaster Boat and Tackle Co. of San Antonio, even made shrimp called the Skeedadi. Each different color had a name, like Bob or Dan.
One of the most unusual shrimp lures was produced by Martin Bait Company of Amarillo. This lure had four sections (joints) held together by a metal band that allowed the lure to bend. Martin shrimp have a long metal leader through their body that, when jerked, created a tail popping action similar to that of a real shrimp.
The company's slogan was "It's a natural", and boasted this warning on the sales insert in the box: "Caution: Do not use the Martin Shrimp with light leader or frayed line, as the big fish hit it hard."
Today, some of these lures still survive, The Pico Perch and soft plastic shrimp are still fished in Gulf waters. They all started back in the early thirties with one man's ideas. He wanted a lure that could be used time after time.
The Nichols Piggy Perch and wooden shrimp lures are now part of fishing's past. Lure history is a lot like fishing history, - some facts, some legends, and some lies. Nichols lures and their successors are part of fishing's future, not just historical legend from the past.
Currently, the Company offers amazing line-up of fishing products,
tackle and lures, no matter what you want in your fishing trip.
Jigs, Spinnerbaits, Soft Plastics, Pulsator Spinnerbaits, Spoons
still American , hand-made and high-quality. Visit Nichols
lures Store and make your choice.
309 Baybrook Street,
Thomasville, GA, 31792
Used materials: wikipedia.org, mrlurebox.com, Coastal Classic Lures
old Article by Colby S., mrlurebox.com.