Really, it’s a tough question and there’s no way to accurately answer it, but it’s still kind of fun to ponder anyway.
As a kid, I was always a big fan of Panther Martin spinners. Give me a No. 2 or 3 “Panther” with a silver blade and a yellow body with red spots and I felt like I could catch every last trout in a given creek.
With their easy-spin blades, Panther Martin spinners worked equally well when fished up or downstream and I could burn them through choppy water or slow-crank them near the bottom of deep pools. ??I used to always say that Panther Martins were probably responsible for more trout than any other lure on the planet and, as it turns out, Harrison-Hoge Industries, Inc., the makers of the spinner, agrees. ??To this day, the Panther Martin slogan is “The Greatest Fish Catcher of All Time,” – it says it right there on the package. But is it really?
Originally developed in Poland and then first commercially produced in Italy 39 years ago, 70 million Panther Martin spinners have been sold in 20 countries worldwide to date. Of course, we will never know how many fish that those 70 million spinners have been responsible for, but it’s safe to say that Panther Martins have to be one of the best ever.
Of course, you can also make a strong case for the Rapala. Like legions of other anglers, Rapalas were my number one bass lures for eons.?? In my early bassin’ days, I’d hit Regional Park’s pond with a 3-inch gold/black jointed Rapala and absolutely slay the largemouth in there by gently twitching it on the surface. And they’re still widely used today for any species you can name in fresh or salt water.??
Since Lauri Rapala hand-carved and tested the first ones along the shores of Finland’s Lake PTMijTMnne and the Kalkkinen Rapids back in 1936, Rapala plugs have spread around the globe like wildfire and are now sold 140 countries.?? Rapala also claims that more world record fish have been caught on their plugs than any other lure – a fact that certainly will garner some “best of the best” votes as well.
But, in this conversation about the best lure ever, let us not forget about Mepps Spinners – the self-proclaimed “World’s Number One Lure.” A lofty claim to be sure, but in 1960, sales of the lure in the U.S. had already reached the half-million mark. They rocketed past 3 million a year not long thereafter – numbers that no lure at that time had ever achieved.
Hey, by the way, here’s a little Mepps trivia with which you can impress (or not) your friends at your next cocktail party: Do you know the origin of the name “Mepps?” Yep, you guessed it, it’s a French acronym for Manufacturier D’Engins De Precision Pour Peches Sportives. Oh yeah, in English, that translates to, Precision Equipment for Sport Fishing.??
Anyway, sales figures and catchy slogans aside, which is the best lure ever? I guess it’s actually kind of a subjective question and perhaps it’s not any of the above.?? Maybe it’s the lure that feels best when it’s tied onto the end of your line… the one that you feel most confident in to produce fish.?? I know which one gets my vote…