Gene Traycik had an idea for a plastic bait that used a wobbling action and noise to attract fish. His personal goal, to create a bait that the fish would strike on every cast.
His idea lead to the development of the Gene’s Gem in 1944. The bait incorporated two ball bearing in internal round compartments inside the lure…one near the head and one near the tail.
A company in Flint, MI molded the two body halves and sent them to Gene in northern Minnesota. There he assembled the pieces, added hooks, two ball bearings, and a line tie. He then tested the lure in water. If it didn’t have the action he wanted, he would put the bait in boiling hot water for a short time, take it out, and bend it slightly with his gloved hands. This was all done inside his home.
At first, and the baits where available in two colors…if you could call it two. One was a red top and white bottom. The other color was a white top and red bottom. Later, more colors were added and many were all or partially transparent to show off the ball bearings inside. Each box was numbered to show what color was inside. I don’t think many colors were available and have seen boxes labeled 1 thru 9.
Gene claims to have tested and perfecting his bait for three years in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. A patent was applied for in 1946, and granted in 1952 (why the long delay, I am not sure).
This was the only lure Gene made. He was known to add a hook on the back and try different “boiled bends” for different results while fishing. Also, I noticed that it was very common to find a date written on the bottom of each box. I assume this is the date when the lure was manufactured and placed in the box to be sold.
Most boxes state the address as Cloquet, Minnesota…while most of the paperwork in the box I see says Flint, Michigan. There is evidence the company was in Flint, then moved to Cloquet, then back to Flint. Or, maybe they were labeled this way for the manufacturing was done in both places.
I am in the process of “color collecting” these baits and putting them in one display. I think it will make a nice display.