Suick muskie thriller - the best known muskie lure ever produced
With the muskie season in full swing it makes sense to discuss the best known muskie lure ever produced-the Suick muskie thriller. My information for this week's article comes from a book titled, "The History & Collectible Fishing Tackle of Wisconsin" by Robert A. Slade. If you have questions about lures from Wisconsin this text will answer them. It's a very enjoyable, informative read with lots' of great photos.
The story about how this successful lure came about is worth knowing. Frank Suick of Antigo, Wis., was a dedicated fisherman who made his living by raising and selling trout on his privately owned series of 14 man made spring fed trout ponds. He separated his speckled trout according to size in the hatchery, allowed fisherman to fish for them and charged by the pound.
Frank noticed on many occasions when a smaller fish became injured or sick it would make a poor attempt to dive to the bottom. It would then rise back to the surface and swim in a dart like fashion. Each time this happened, larger fish would always attack the dying smaller fish. Frank thought if a person could duplicate that action, one would have an effective fishing lure.
So, with a piece of cedar he carved a number of different wood lures during the 1930s. After much effort he perfected what is now commonly called the Suick Muskie Thriller.
Frank tested his lures on Oneida County's Pelican Lake. He found them to be very effective. During one 30 day period in 1941, Frank and his son James hooked and landed 31 muskies from 14 to 30 pounds. That remarkable feat was used extensively in his marketing efforts.
Here are some important facts to help you identify Suick's and their production date. Frank patented his first lure in 1942 and began selling them for three dollars each. The earliest Suick's were only painted in a sucker finish. This finish has a grey back, white belly and red gill markings. The metal tail was stainless steel and served a dual purpose. Bending the tail gave the Suick action and the shiny finish was like a calling card for muskies.
These very early lures only came in nine inch. In the late 1940s a seven-inch model with different paint schemes was added to the line. Older Suick's were produced without painted eyes. Newer models have painted eyes. In 1956 a small four-inch Suick was added and the 10 inch super Suick was first produced in 1987. According to Slade, (as of 1999) the lure was being produced with the company still located in Antigo and run by Steve Suick, Frank's grandson.
The early models were sold in a dark red, two-piece cardboard box with large black print. That box was followed by a white box, still for only three dollars each. This packaging was replaced by a plastic top box. Any packaging without a zip code was made prior to the mid 1960s. Today "blister packs" are used to market the lure. The early red box with the nine-inch sucker is a difficult find.
Even the earliest lures have paper instructions. Those instructions stated, "For those who want the finest...in a muskie lure there is only one -- the Suick." I found it interesting their literature stated success would be unlimited in Canadian waters. A strong statement about their belief in the Suick potential.
Let's talk value. New Suick's today cost about $18 each. It stands to reason, one shouldn't expect to sell or buy old Suick's for less than that. Most avid muskie fisherman expect to pay a premium for any quality bait. Replica early Suick's with the red box are retailing for around $29 each. I suggest vintage Suick's with the proper box and paper be valued from $20 to $50 each. Older lures with proper packaging will command the higher value. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.