The Crappie catchin’est, bass baggin’est, perch poachin’est fishin’ lure ever invented was the RoadRunner.
In 1958 Bert Hall of Forsyth, Missouri created this lure, which is considered by many to be one of the best lures of all time. It will catch any fish, anywhere, if one simple rule is obeyed, and that rule is from Bert himself :
“You can’t fish a RoadRunner wrong, as long as you fish it slow.”
He was in the automotive parts business in Forsyth, Missouri at the time, and had two trucks that serviced tackle shops all over southern Missouri, northern Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma under the name of the Hall Tackle Company. The company was actually a jobber that serviced tackle shops and, after running into Sam Walton, all 15 or 20 WalMart stores with all kinds of tackle, including minnow buckets, hooks, and weights.
Jim Blakemore started Blakemore Lure Company over in Shelbyville, Tennessee. His company made trout flies, so to be closer to the trout market, he moved his company to Lebanon, Missouri. In the spring of 1969 Joe Hall, Bert’s son, purchased Blakemore Lure Company and moved the operation to Branson, Missouri. Joe Hall, a natural born jet-setter in his time, was young and eager to make his dad’s lure the most productive fishing lure in the world. Joe started producing the Road Runner in Branson and had several families that hand-tied the lures for years.
The marabou Road Runner remains one of the most popular lures on the market. The bait will catch any game fish swimming anywhere in the world. The 1/8-ounce white marabou Road Runner is the No. 1 seller for Blakemore Lure Company to this day.
Well, about a year ago I had the pleasure of recording an oral history with Esther Hall, Bert’s wife, who still lives in Forsyth. Leon Combs and I met her one summery Saturday morning for the purpose of setting down “on the record” the true story.
While owning the National Auto Parts store in town, an idea was born and tested in a rain barrel and became one of the most popular fishing lures of all time. It was my pleasure to record this event and listen to Esther tell the rest of her story. The conversation was almost an hour long and Esther started with life as a schoolgirl, described meeting Bert, the moving of Forsyth “up on the hill” when Bull Shoals Dam was built, and much more of her personal history and the history of Taney County.
You can drop into the museum and listen to that story if you wish, as it’s now part of our permanent oral history collection at the museum.