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Bob Hart's Saltwater Lure Page

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This Months' Featured Lures!


Staying in New England again this month for another group of lures that were the mainstay of many Striper fisherman in the 1940's & 1950's. This months' lures are Cap'n Bill's Natural Action Lures. One of the largest lure companies of it's era, second only to Stan Gibbs Lures they made many types of lures for catching Striped Bass & Bluefish. First located in Little Compton, R.I., Charles Sherer sold his lures out of Capt. Bill's Bait Shop. He also had a distributor, Oletime Woodsman's Line. Sometime in the early fifties the company was sold and they moved and were distributed by Red Top Bait Co. in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. The last known address that I'm aware of is one in Whitinsville, Mass.

In the 1948 catalog six different models of lures in ten colors were available:

  1. Blue Chub
  2. Yellow Mullet
  3. Red Squid
  4. Frost Fish
  5. Light Blue Fish Flash
  6. Blue Green
  7. Metallic Blue Fish Flash
  8. Bill's Special
  9. Silver Fish
  10. Sand Eel

They could also be had with either treble or double hooks and all lures had his famous plastic coating on them. Bucktail and single hook attached to rear or if preferred no bucktail or single hook. A treble hook could be added with a tail spinner too. Lots of options. I haven't seen all the colors so I'm not sure which are which because most of the boxes I have are unmarked. From what I can gather the earliest boxes were the dark blue and the green ones. The next type are the ones with the Cap'n Bill's Natural Action Lures % Red Top Bait Co., Buzzards Bay, Mass. logo and the last boxes I have are actually Howard's Jet Plug boxes with a Whitinsville, Mass label over the other logo. Each box type is pictured somewhere below with the lure it came in.

The first lure is a Popper in what I think is the Blue Chub finish. It's 7" long and weighs about 2 ozs. This ones has a single hook/bucktail option. 

Next is another early popper in what I think is Silver Fish color, it has the two treble hook, bucktail and spinner option. 

The third plug is a plastic coated swimmer in what I think is one of the nicest colors made, Frostfish. This lure is 7 1/4" long and weighs 3 3/4 ozs. It has double hooks and a single rear hook with bucktail. 

Next up is a Cap'n Bills Thin Fish. It came in only two colors, Bill's Special which is pictured below and Metallic Blue Fish Flash which can be seen further down the page. It was advertised for light rod and trolling purposes. A wonderful lure for fishing in Bays and Estuaries. 

The fifth lure which is pictured isn't in the 1948 catalog but is an early piece. The lure came in a box with a half top which never fit it properly. It's a thin Fish body with a Flaptail added. The box is marked Cap'n Bill's Lil Eel No.11 Spinner. 

The next lure is one of my favorites, a Cap'n Bill's Underwater Plug. The catalog says it's available with treble hooks only, with the option of treble on end or bucktail and single hook. Made with nickel silver fastenings and stainless steel diving plane it only came in three colors, Silver Fish No.9, Blue Chub No. 1, and Small Striped Bass which is pictured below.

Also in the catalog was a Cap'n Bill's Streamliner which was a Swimmer with a tapered end. It only came in two colors in 1948, Bill's Special No. 8 and Metallic Blue Fish Flash No. 7 which is pictured below. This one is in the later box with the Whitinsville, Mass. address.

The next lure pictured is the same model as above but in a Red/White color. After the company moved to Buzzards Bay, Mass. the lures were available in more colors including Red/White, Eel plus the earlier catalog colors. I think some of the numbers and colors were changed too.

Last lure in the catalog is the Cap'n Bill's Tipsy Plug, a tail weighted popper. Only 6" long and weighing 2 ozs. it came in four colors. Red Squid No. 3, pictured below. Frost Fish No.4, Bluefish Flash No.7 and Bill's Special No.8.

The last lure pictured below is a lure that I found in a Cap'n Bill Box with the later Whitinsville, Mass label. The lure has the exact same body type as a Stan Gibbs popper but it is thru-wired and has Cap'n Bill type hardware and hooks. Stan Gibbs never thru-wired this type of popper. It also has a Capt. Bill type paint job and decal eyes. It is 7" long and weighs 3 oz. After talking with my friend Ed Poore we figure it is a prototype that was never put into production because it might have infringed on Stan Gibbs's plug style.

Cap'n Bill also sold squids, tins, eel rigs plus all his lure parts and bodies for those who wanted to make their own lures. 

That's it for now. Come back in a month or so for another Saltwater lure.


If you'd like some help with identifying a saltwater lure you're not sure about or if you have any saltwater lures for sale or trade you can email me at: