Rebel Lures Celebrates 50 Years
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of today’s bass fishing world of big-money tournaments, new lures with lasers and sound chips, million-dollar anglers and bass boats costing more than a new two-bedroom house in the country, but it wasn’t always that way. Anglers with a little grey in their beards remember when bass fishing was an emerging sport, but many of today’s anglers weren’t even born when Ray Scott held the first Bassmaster Classic and ignited the spark of a billion-dollar industry.
Younger anglers scoff at the jump suits and funny looking “bass” boats, but without those early day players like Scott, Billy and Bobby Murray, Bill Dance and others, as well as the companies involved, bass fishing would not exist as we know it. One of the most important companies during the early years was Rebel Lures, which turns 50 years old in 2012.
Rebel Lures began with Arkansan George Perrin growing frustrated with the wooden minnow lures of the late 1950s and determining that he could make a better one out of plastic. His new bait would eliminate the problems with wood – inconsistent running depths, poor tuning and a limited lifespan because eventually each one would soak up moisture that affected the retrieve. Perrin owned a plastic-injection molding company that made parts for air conditioners and refrigerators, so he simply devoted some company time to creating the lure.
He was right, and as a result ushered in a new era of fishing lures. Each of his Rebel Minnows ran true out of the package, dove to the same depth and never took on water. The lure was an instant hit and is still in the line (and still catching fish). Other lures followed and became Classics: Wee-R and Deep Wee-R, Humpback, Rebel Crawfish and, of course, the infamous Pop-R.
Rebel Lures is celebrating its birthday in a big way, including giving away a Skeeter FX21 beautifully wrapped with Rebel Lures 50th Anniversary graphics at the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. This is an appropriate giveaway, since 40 years prior the company provided all of the boats for the very first Bassmaster Classic. Rebel manufactured boats from 1967 until 1975 – top-of-the-line inboard/outboards with captain’s chairs and the company’s own trolling motors.
The agreement with Ray Scott’s B.A.S.S. lasted just one year, and another Arkansas boat builder – Forrest Wood -- stepped in to provide boats. It worked out pretty well for him, too.
After quitting production of the bass boats Rebel stepped up as a leader in the tackle box industry with the first “Worm Proof” boxes. Anglers less than 30 years of age may laugh at that, but the rest of us remember the big glob of sticky plastic mess and ruined trays that resulted from putting plastic worms in a tackle box back in the early 1970s. Rebel’s “Worm Proof” material propelled the company to the top of the market, where it stayed for several years before outsourcing cut Rebel’s profit margin so much that it was no longer feasible to make them here in the United States.
But even though the boats and tackle boxes are gone, the lures remain. The company carved a unique niche in “Critter Baits,” those realistic crawfish, hellgrammite, frog, bumble bee and grasshopper crankbaits that are mainstays for creek, stream and pond fishing, as well as ultralight minnows for trout and bass. Rebel Minnows and the Wee-Rs still catch plenty of bass and other species, and the Pop-R still catches topwater fish like there’s no tomorrow.
In addition to the boat giveaway, Rebel dropped a new website in August (www.rebellures.com) and added some interesting new lures to the lineup. Two new ultralights for 2012 are the Rebel Raider, a slow-sinking walking minnow, and the Teeny Wake-R, a tough little wake bait. The biggest news out of Rebel is the Frog-R. The Frog-R is a realistic frog profile and paid job on a topwater walking lure. It’s deadly on bass.
Rebel Lures has been a leader in bass fishing from the beginning, and still manufactures tremendously effective lures today. Help us celebrate 50 years by emailing your favorite memories and photos of fishing with Rebel lures, out of a Rebel boat or toting a Rebel tackle box to Public Relations Director Lawrence Taylor at email@example.com. If your photo or story is used (we’ll be posting a new one every day for the first six months of 2012) you’ll receive a free Rebel lure as payment.
Cheers to the next 50 years of Rebel Lures!