C.C. Roberts Mud Puppy
C. C. Roberts Mud Puppy Fishing Lure
C.C. Roberts Bait Company - Mosinee, Wisconsin
The C.C. Roberts Bait Company of Mosinee, Wisconsin, is the oldest continuous manufacturer of wood baits and is still making lures today. Maybe that is due in part to the fact that Roberts only made two lures for commercial use, the Mudpuppy and the Puppette. The Mudpuppy came in two lengths, 7" and 5-1/2". There are a fair amount of variations in the lengths of these lures due to the fact that in the early years, they were hand-carved.
The early versions of the Mudpuppy was cut down the middle, allowing the tail portion to rotate. Later versions were cut different, with the tail portion being only about 1/3 of the total length of the lure. Also, earlier verisons had flaired gills. The pictures above show the older version on the right with the newer version on the left.
The Mudpuppy had an unusual hook design in that when a fish was hooked, the treble released from the body of the lure and the lure floated away free from the line. This made it necessary to retrieve the lure after catching the fish (assuming you landed it!). During WWII, the company had problems obtaining treble hooks and made their own trebles by using a double hook and a single hook and wrapping them together with wire, then soldering into place.
It is believed that the early lures had painted tack eyes. Later glass eyes were used and later still, decal eyes. The type of eyes, however, are not necessarily a sure way to assess the age of the lure since the company was more than happy to make you Mudpuppys with glass eyes if you sent them the eyes, if you ordered a dozen or more! In fact, If you ordered a dozen, you could specify the colors you wanted as well. This resulted in a whole range of colors which exist for Mudpuppies. Originally they came in Natural (a grey color splatter paint with colored ribs)(pictured) and red head/white body. There are a number of shades of "natural" however, so it is not a definitive color. Other colors include green perch, black, gold green, bright green, orange, purple, and black and yellow to name a few.
Prices for these range from around $25 to $100. Value range for this lure ranges from $50 to $150. (Additional note: these price estimates are from the original 1996 article.)
- The Roberts Bait Company started commercial production in 1918.
- Some very early lures had the metal fin bent to the right.
- Early lures were hand carved to get the distinctive "sucker head" feature.
- As mentioned above the earlier versions are 50/50 split models.
- There were some early 50/50 models produced in sucker color with a "scale finish". This was produced for a very short time before they discontinued as they were made aware they were probably infringing on a patent by spraying through a mesh screen (Creek Chub/Heddon patent).
- During WWII the company was challenged just like others to acquire materials. To get around this they got creative and cut their glass eyes in half and used only half eyes on lures. They also wrapped hooks together and soldered them together to make their own treble hooks.
- Below are some of the different boxes the Mud Puppies came in through the years and my favorite Mud Puppy box ever.
Mud Puppy Box 1
Mud Puppy Box 2
Mud Puppy Box 3
Below is my favorite Mud Puppy box. I found this one in a vintage tackle box with the lure and ended up selling it but glad I photographed it first. I can imagine a young boy dreaming of catching muskies all day long on his new lure.
If anybody has additional information or paperwork such as early advertisements they would share it would be greatly appreciated.
Most collectors are familiar with the Mermaid lures & bobbers as well as the Mermino Spoons. This little maiden measures about 1-1/2" long and is made of plastic. Any ideas on who made it and what it is called?
If you have any further information on any of the items displayed on this page which you'd like to share, please send your comments to me and I'll update the page accordingly. Contributions of interesting items and/or unknowns are encouraged.
© 2020, My Bait Shop, LLC