History of South Bend header image featuring antique South Bend rods, reels, tackle and catalogs

South Bend History

South Bend Sporting Goods was Born in the Heartland Over 100 Years Ago
Though the exact year is unknown, the history of the South Bend Bait Company begins around 1895 in the South Bend, Indiana home of F.G. Worden. Worden created, patented and marketed his early wooden minnows, and the “bucktail” lure, a minnow-shaped lure with a feathery tail.

By the early teen years the company became the South Bend Bait Company, famous for the Oreno lures, the first of which was a minnow-shaped lure with bass and trout sizes. The Oreno family eventually included catchy-named versions such as the famous “Bass-Oreno,” as well as the “Trout-Oreno,” “Surf-Oreno,” “Pike-Oreno,” and other Oreno lures. In their many iterations and versions, these lures were made until nearly 1960.

The South Bend Bait Company's Bass-Oreno lure
montage of south bend catalogs featuring the Pike-oreno, the bass-oreno and the first South Bend Logo

South Bend entered the bamboo fly rod market through the purchase of the Cross Rod Company of Massachusetts in 1926, and continued to acquire and purchase tackle patents over the next three decades.

Images of and quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Knute Rockne, along with an antique South Bend Spinning Rod, the Classic 2

In 1958 South Bend was sold, but continued to produce and sell quality lures, rods and reels.

The tradition endures today as South Bend Sporting Goods continues to evaluate the needs of the marketplace, and with this keen understanding, design new and innovative family fishing products that are proven winners.

SOUTH BEND CATALOGS

The South Bend catalogs are classics unto themselves. These well designed and beautifully illustrated booklets were as much product catalogs as they were outdoor lifestyle magazines featuring photos and "fish stories" of professional and amateur fisher-men, -women, children and the occasional celebrity or U.S. President. Photos were paired with delightful and humorous descriptions and anecdotes written in the style of the times. South Bend also created how-to handbooks entitled "FISHING - What Tackle and When." A few interesting examples are shown below.

Montage of classic South Bend Catalog pages

WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SOUTH BEND?

Numerous resources for South Bend's history, timeline and products from collectors, antique lure buffs, historians and other experts can be found below.

Collectors/Historians:

www.oldfishinglure.com/southbendlures.htm

www.southbendcollector.com/

www.mrlurebox.com/Southbend.htm

www.tacklecollecting.com/southbend.htm

www.antiquelures.com/SouthBendlureindex.htm

www.cabincreekcds.com/SouthBendFishing.htm

www.collectorsweekly.com/fishing/south-bend

www.antiquefishinglures.com/oreno.htm

Blogs:

fishinghistory.blogspot.com/2008/04/get-grip-south-bend-paul-young-and.html