The L&S Bait Company began making lures in 1937, the first being a wooden lure known as the LeMaster Shiner Minnow which was produced until World War II. These early wood lures had no markings on them, unlike the later production lures which had markings on the diving lip. The wood Shiner Minnow had glass eyes that were originally made for dolls, according to William LeMaster, President of L&S Bait Company. The original baits were sold in any kind of box that was available according to LeMaster. One of the earliest known labeled boxes is shown in the picture above. The wood lures were only made in the bass size shown above, approximately 3" in length.
The following catalog numbers were assigned to these early lures depending upon whether they were a surface or sub-surface lure:
#150 - Shiner Minnow Sinker
#250 - Shiner Minnnow Semi-surface (floater)
#J430 - Jumbo Shiner Minnow Sub-surface
#J435 - Jumbo Shiner Minnow Surface (floater)
Most but not all of these lures were marked on the lip with one of these numbers. There are examples of unmarked lips in both sizes. On those shown above, the Shining Minnow is marked "250" on the bottom of the lip while the larger Jumbo Shiner Minnow is unmarked. In later years, the number changed to 2 digits and appears on the top of the diving lip along with the company and lure name, i.e., "L&S BassMaster 15".
According to company literature, the founder of the company, Harold LeMaster originally started the company in Bradley, Illinois. Early L&S boxes can be identified as they are marked only with "Bradley, Illinois" on the cover. In 1948, LeMaster opened a second factory in Clearwater, Florida and later still moved it to Largo, Florida. It was during the time of the first move that LeMaster conceived of the idea of making a lure that 'flashed' using a mirror-like finish. Thus was born the "MirrOlure" name. One interesting observation here is that there are boxes marked "Miralure" that I suspect was the original name but was for whatever reason later changed to MirrOlure.
L&S Lures came in a wide variety of boxes. All of the boxes in this picture are different in some respect. The earliest are the blue boxes that carry the "Shiner Minnow" label. The middle "Muskie Master" box is the first used when the name was changed and is quite rare to my knowledge.
Colors for these lures are almost infinite! The early plastic ones came in 12 colors including the ever popular red head/white (color code 11) and a frog spot (color code FF)(called "Yellow Belly-Green back, Yellow and Black Spots" - like I said, frog spot...) Like many other lure manufacturers, L&S made lures in special order colors.
Color codes used by L&S consisted of 2 digits or letters following the code for the lure model. Thus, a early Shiner Minnow floater (250) in red head (color code 11) was number 2511. When the MirrOlure line was introduced, a M was added to the code so the Bass Master floater (25) in red head became 25M11.
I've not seen a comprehensive listing of color codes that includes uncataloged colors but here are a few of the more common ones:
11 - Red head (white body)
18 - White Body, green back, silver sparkle
19 - Yellow body, green back, silver sparkle
21 - White belly, black back and speckles
22 - White belly, green back and speckles
In the MirrOlure colors, these same codes were:
11 - Red head, white body, silver scale
18 - Green back, white belly, silver scale
19 - Green back, yellow belly, gold scale
21 - Black back, white belly, silver scale
22 - Green back, white belly, gold scale
The very early wooden lure prices out in the area of $300-$400 according to Karl White's book and I've seen them priced in that range at tackle shows. The plastic Bass Masters, however, are a bit more reasonable and can be picked up in the $5-$10 range (more with box). The Muskie Masters often go for $30-$50 and I've seen them priced higher, even without the box.
As I indicated, the L&S Bait Company is still in business today and continue to produce the MirrOlure line in a variety of models. It is run by William LeMaster, son of the original founder, Harold. Visit the MirrOLure.Com web site to see their latest product line.
For more on L&S lures, check out the Old Florida Lures web site's section on L&S!
I've had these 3 lures for sometime and have not been able to identify them. I included them with this Lure Lore edition because of their color patterns and eyes that are very much like other L&S lures. They measure 2-3/4" and have a lead weight on the nose. Two have opaque eyes while one has the classic MirrOlure transparent eye. The belly hook on one is screwed into the body using a eye screw while the other two use surface hardware.
UPDATE (7/17/2000):A long-time L&S collector (Chris) wrote to say that these three lures are indeed L&S and are called "Troutmaster." Chris writes "These 3 are the trolling models for saltwater fishing. There is another version for casting. These are slim solid bodied lures that have similar markings. I'm not sure what year they are from. I believe in the 50's or possibly sooner."
A big hand to Chris for ID'ing these!
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. Lures pictured in Lure Lore are not for sale.
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Web Author: Tom Jacomet
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