Johnson Automatic Striker
Johnson Automatic Striker
Carl A. / C.A. Johnson - Chicago, Illinois
The sheer size of the Johnson Automatic Striker should tell you this bait was not made for panfishing! A full 6 1/2" long and about 1-1/2" in diameter tells you this guy was made for the big ones!
The Johnson Automatic Striker was made sometime in the late 1930's to the early 1940's by Carl Johnson of Chicago, Illinois. The lure came in four sizes, including the 6 1/2" (shown), a 3", a 2" and a 1 3/4" size. Of these, the smallest size is the rarest and near impossible to find.
The Auto Striker was the first lure to use the breakaway hook, a feature found on the more common Mudpuppy by C.C. Roberts which was featured in an earlier edition of Lure Lore. Unlike the Mudpuppy, the body of the Auto Striker was retained as the wire line holding the treble was threaded thru the lip of the lure. The treble itself released from the body and slid down the wire line until it was stopped by the twist in the end of the wire.
The lure is identifiable by the marked nose plate on which "Johnson Auto Striker" is imprinted. The three larger sizes have eyes which have glass pupils with tack eye centers while the smallest size has painted eyes. It is believed the three larger sizes came in only two colors, a Silver Scale and a Gold Scale (shown). In Carl Luckey's Old Fishing Lures and Tackle (#4), he indicates that the smallest size came in four colors, including ivory body/red stripes, ivory body/black stripes, ivory body/green stripes/yellow tail, and ivory body/green head.
One known variation to this lure was in the large size which has two different size tails which varied in width. The 'wide' version was the original tail size but it was found that the tail didn't wiggle well and a narrow version was made which worked better.
The prices on Johnson Automatic Strikers aren't cheap, with the large size commanding anywhere from $500 to a $1000 depending upon condition. The two next sizes can run in the $500-$750 range. The smallest size is the rarest and it is impossible to give a estimated cost but suffice it to say, would be $1000+...save your pennies...!
I would like to thank fellow collector Chris Slusar for his help in providing information on this lure! (Note: these price estimates are from the original 1998 article.)
- Carl Johnson was a doctor of dentistry.
- The patent for the Johnson Automatic Striker was applied for January 1, 1935 and granted on October 22, 1935. You can see a copy of it here.
- Below is a photo of a large size Striker with box. Photo courtesy of our friends at Lang's Auction.
Johnson Automatic Striker with Box
Since this edition features a rather large lure, I thought an unknown of similar size would be appropriate! This fellow is a good 4 3/4" long and 1 1/4" across the widest part of this body, has a paddle on either side, two treble hooks held with screw eyes, and painted eyes.
UNKNOWN UPDATE: Dan Basore writes to say he has paper on this lure but can't find it! He says it is a Musky lure and believes it was made in Wisconsin.
UNKNOWN UPDATE - 2/22/2015: This lure is identified as a Musky Paddle-Wheel lure made by Henry Crandall of Racine, Wisconsin, in the book "The History & Collectible Fishing Tackle of Wisconsin" by Robert A. Slade. (Special thanks to Roy "Larry" Fonk for providing this information!)
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.
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