THE STORY OF THE MEPPS SPINNERS.
The Worlds #1 Lure. “No other lure has caught so many record fish.” These are both very bold statements that Mepps make about their spinners, and the first one is even boldly written across the packaging they come in. So why do Mepps Spinners catch so many fish? When French engineer Andre Meulnart invented the Mepps spinners in 1938, it wasn’t long before he realised it was an extremely effective fishing lure. But it would also take the vision of a man who could see the lure’s full potential in American Todd Sheldon during the 50’s before it could gain worldwide acclaim.
Most fishing lures are imitators. They look like a minnow, perch, small baitfish, worm, shrimp, frog or other aquatic creature. Soft plastic fishing lures and crankbaits are molded in these shapes. Spoons are meant to imitate small baitfish and minnows. Feeding fish are quick to grab these lures. While the Shad Pneumatic Fish Killer may be the best damn imitator you’ll find anywhere, it won’t do you a lot of good if the fish aren’t feeding. When the bites get tough you have to entice the fish to strike. This is the time to tie on a Mepps spinner.
Mepps spinners are very different. They are not designed to imitate anything. They entice a fish into striking by appealing to its basic survival instinct. “I don’t know what that is, but it’s invading my space and I’m going to kill it.” Or, “Look at that. I can have some fun with that.” How does a spinner do this? It really is simple. Spinners use flash and vibration to attract fish. This flash and vibration comes from their revolving blade. No other fishing lure has this unique feature. For this very reason, Mepps spinners will catch fish when no other lure will.
Think Cat and Mouse.
Have you ever played with a cat? Feed a cat all it wants and it stops eating. It may even go to sleep. But, tie a toy to a string, drag it across the floor and the cat comes to life. It pounces on the toy. It’s not hungry, it’s been enticed into striking. A Mepps spinner has the same effect on a fish. The fish sees the spinner and goes on the attack. The “key” word is “sees.” The fish must “see” the spinner to attack it. So if a Mepps spinner is that good, what one do you use, from more than four thousand (that’s right 4,000) different lures in a wide variety of sizes and colours.
Plenty to choose from, but which one to use?
I can only recommend to you the most popular patterns, and from there its up to you to try them and find your personal favourite from the range. The classic Mepps spinner is the Mepps Aglia. It’s not only the original French spinner, it is the original in-line spinner and it still accounts for the bulk of Mepps worldwide sales. The Aglia’s “backbone” is its heavy-duty stainless steel shaft. Attached to this shaft is a concave oval blade, spinner body and of course, a hook. The blade can be silver or gold plated, copper, or painted with computer age Epoxy. When drawn through the water, the blade rotates around the shaft creating both flash and vibration.
Either will attract fish, but together they become a deadly combination game fish can’t resist. The Aglia is also flashy, decorated with plastic and/or solid brass beads in a wide variety of bright fish-attracting colours. Even the hooks can be a work of art, dressed with hand-tied squirrel or buck tail in a wide variety of colours. So just how have the hooks on Mepps spinners come to be dressed with squirrel tails? Back in the early 1960’s, Todd Sheldon had experienced a particularly good day trout fishing with Mepps spinners.
Squirrels were the way forward.
On the way back to his car, he met a young boy who also had a good days fishing with Mepps lures. But, all of the boy’s trout were larger than Todd’s. This is not something easily accepted by any fisherman. Todd noticed the Mepps spinner attached to the boy’s line had a small tuft of squirrel tail attached to the hook. When he returned home, Todd began experimenting with dressed hooks. Bear hair was tried as well as fox, coyote, badger, skunk, deer, even cow. But no other tail provided the pulsating action in the water created by squirrel tail. Todd was soon recycling squirrel tails. “Squirrel Tails Wanted” reads the large carved wooden sign near the Mepps plant on Wisconsin’s Highway 45. It’s amusing to most travellers, but it intrigues others enough to stop.
Processing the tails is a lot of work. After trimming, they are washed, not once but several times to remove every last bit of oil and grime. Between each washing they must be dried. Some are left their natural colour, others are dyed brilliant hues before becoming Mepps dressed hooks. Mepps Spinners Sizes & Weights. Sizes: 00 (1/16oz) 0 (1/12 oz.) 1 (1/8 oz.) 2 (1/6 oz.) 3 (1/4 oz.) 4 (1/3 oz.) 5 (1/2 oz.)
Click on an image to buy a piece of history.
Final Notes. For a lure that starts at around a couple of pounds upwards, depending on size, colour, whether it’s a squirrel tail etc. I think serious lure anglers should have at least one in their box, if not just a basic selection. For nearly 80 years now this lure has caught fish, I wonder if they’ll be saying the same in 80 years time about some of the lures coming out today?…………. Courtesy of Mark Burgess.