Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 39 No. 3 - SUMMER 2015 - Page 8

by Colby Sorrells Tackle Time DIXIE JET “The Perfect Bait” S poons are without a doubt one of the most successful saltwater fishing lures. When asked, many saltwater anglers agree if they could have only one lure it would be a spoon. But are all spoons the same? Most anglers have their favorites, and one was advertised as “The Perfect Bait”. Coastal anglers have used spoons to catch speckled trout, redfish, flounder, and other coastal fish as long as spoons have been around. The often quoted first spoon story is that a fisherman, for some reason, dropped a spoon off the side of the boat and as the spoon wobbled its way to the bottom a fish attacked the spoon. The fisherman cut off the handle part of the spoon, attached a hook and invented one of the most successful fishing lures ever designed. The basic spoon design goes back to the earliest days of metal lure production, most likely to the east coastNew York area in the 1800s. Spoon production and design worked its way across the country as people moved farther west. New waters opened up along the way and new species fell to the effects of a spoon. The coastal environment is tough on all fishing tackle, especially spoons. The bright shiny silver, gold, or copper color of the spoon only gets there by a lengthy process. A base metal, usually an alloy of several different metals, is used to create the spoon. Then the spoon is dipped in a solution that includes other metals like copper, brass, gold, silver, or chromium. An electrical charge causes the metal to adhere to the spoon surface. Many spoons include several of these metals, with each one added after the previous, ending with a shiny finish of silver, chrome, or gold. Coastal anglers found the spoons they used were thin and the coatings were not thick enough to withstand repeated use, especially when worked over sand, rocks and oyster shells. After using a spoon for only a few days, the bright finish wore off and the base metal, usually a different color, was exposed. One angler decided there was a better way. Emory Schumacher of Houston, Texas, started making his Dixie Jet Spoon with much thicker metal and much thicker coatings. Schumacher’s tough spoon held up to repeated use. Now anglers could buy one spoon that lasted for years, not just days. Anglers of the time also liked the heavy 3/4 ounce weight of the Dixie Jet. Reels of the day required braided nylon line instead of monofilament. Monofilament often worked its way around the end of the reel spool and wrapped around the spool spindle causing any fish hooked to be instantly lost. The larger diameter, water saturated, braided nylon didn’t have this problem because it would not fit in the gap found on many reels of the period. 8 GULF COAST FISHERMAN Schumacher’s Dixie Jet Spoon was the answer. Schumacher was a regular award donor to the tournament casting contests in the Houston area. Bill Bush of Sealy, Texas, was a young teenager when the Dixie Jet Spoon was new and he recalled casting at the tournaments with some of his friends. He stated they all wanted second or third place, because lower places were awarded Dixie Jet Spoons, while first place was awarded a trophy. Dixie made spoons other than the 3/4 ounce Dixie Jet. They also made the 5/8 ounce Dixie Siren and the 3/8 ounce Dixie Dude. All of these lures incorporated the tough Schumacher electroplating. The silver versions of the spoons were made with chromium over nickel, and the gold version was made with real 24 karat gold over nickel and included a gold treble hook. Early Dixie Jet Spoons were sold on a cardboard sign. Anglers simply pulled off the spoons they needed, headed to the cash register and then to the water. Later, Dixie products were sold in individual plastic boxes included in a 12-pack cardboard counter display. The success of the Dixie Jet brought about a change in Schumacher’s company, also. They became so successful in producing the spoons that his el