Next up is a lure that actually predates the French Vivif by a couple of years. Around 1950-51 the Plucky Minnow also known as “The Swimming Lure” was exported out of France through the Rublex company. This bait was very popular for bass throughout Europe as well as trophy brown trout as far away as New Zealand.
Initially the Plucky was an expensive boutique bait that was 5x the price of most artificial lures. Casted out of a thin tire like rubber the bait needed to be maintained or would unfortunately degrade if left under sun light. The bill,dorsal and tail fin were molded with the bait so they’re attached rather well, but were made of leather so they would dry out,crack, and degrade over time. The joint consisted of a small metal piano style hinge, coupled with the leather bill and a life like tail this lure had a very convincing swimming minnow action that could be counted down.
What is interesting about these lures is the bait had a unique line through design. After hooking into a fish the double pointed hook would detach from the bait and slide up past the small swivel and be free of any additional weight.
All baits were painted by hand and came in a variety of finishes.There were three sizes released 2 3/4″ 1.6 oz, 2 1/4″ 1.3oz, and a 1 3/8″ 1.2 oz. Since the lures were a bit small anglers would often rig up a 1/2 oz weight ahead of the lure to get distance from the bank.
After getting some momentum sometime in the late 50’s early 60’s the Garcia/Mitchell company (now Abu Garcia) picked up the rights to the lure. Garcia decided to try and streamline the lure and extend the lifespan by changing the makeup of the bait. This is a common theme once a lure gains status and can often lead to its demise. The new bait made use of a new rubber bill and tail fin and opted to lose the dorsal fin. The body material changed and was made of a stiffer more durable plastic material, and the head was reinforced to stop it from caving in (I read somewhere that guys used to inject cod oil in this new mod).
Even though my lures are 50 plus years old I could not detect a noticeable difference in action. With the cheaper injected plastic lures starting to dominate the scene I think one could argue that boutique baits started to really lose their lustre.
Dipping back just a few years before the legendary French Vivif reveals a soft bodied lure with a dual point hook and awesome swimming action. While the Vivifs were lipless it’s hard to not see a few similar traits with it’s French made predecessor.