So who invented the RotoTail? You know, the bait announced here first on bassblaster.bassgold.com, basically a plastic worm with a tail that rotates 360 degrees like a spinnerbait blade. Answer: Alex Langer.
If that name sounds familiar, then you’re old enough to remember…wait for it…the Flying Lure. The first fishing lure sold on an infomercial – whose success, unfortunately, led to tons o’ fishin’ junk (mostly) pitched on TV by folks trying to mimic on the success of the Flying Lure.
Before you get to moanin’ and groanin’, some stuff you should know.
> Alex is a dieHARD basser. Always has been, but this is a guy who’s found and bought boats used in the first couple Classics, has collected more than few copies of the first Bassmaster mags, has fished for bass his whole life, and whose obsession with getting to bass under floating mats (in Massachusetts, of all places) led him to invent the Flying Lure. More on that in a bit.
> In other words, the Flying Lure was designed to catch bass first and foremost – and, believe it or not, actually works as it’s supposed to…as long as you fish it “backwards,” meaning on a slack line. Likewise, the RotoTail was designed to catch bass first and foremost.
> Alex also is a bud of mine, if that counts for anything. Good dude, loves bass, B.A.S.S., the whole shebang. Even was at the Classic this year, doing his radio show, Outdoors This Week on USA Radio Network. Show as been around for 11 years and I believe has the widest distribution of any fishin’ radio show in America.
Back to the original question – why Alex wanted to keep his RotoTail identity a secret. When he told me that was Plan A, I figured it was because of the notorious rep infomercials now have. Yep, but that’s also why he’s coming out. Read on, intrepid Paraders.
Jay: Alex! Finally you come out as the guy behind the RotoTail. Why now?
Alex: Well I guess the better question is why not initially. And I guess the answer to that is I was a little afraid a good bait would be marred by the reputation infomercial fishing lures have.
It’s pretty strange that you can create what is still the world’s best-selling lure of all time and somehow that hurts you. Or may hurt you. But then I realized, the guys who ruined it came after me. Most of their baits didn’t work, but mine did – and still does!
Jay: I get that and I think everyone will. In my case, when I think of an infomercial fishing lure I think of the Helicopter Lure, which was a piece of junk.
Alex: Exactly. The Flying Lure came out over 20 years ago, and I still get calls about once a week from people wanting to know how to make millions of dollars by putting a fishing lure in an infomercial. I tell them I don’t know, but first start with a lure that works.
Jay: Pretty ironic because those guys want to have a fishing lure infomercial and you didn’t. Bet hardly anyone knows that.
Alex: That’s right. I tried to sell the Flying Lure on my own for years. Then a guy called me and said, “I think we could sell this on TV.” I said, “No way!” Back then infomercials sold things like baldness cures and get-rich-quick schemes. I didn’t want to be lumped in with them. This was a great fishing lure that I spent 10 years developing. No way was I going to be lumped in with those pitchmen.
Jay: What made you change your mind?
Alex: In the spring of 1991, a guy named Jim Caldwell, a TV host from New York and budding infomercial producer, convinced me to meet with him. During that first meeting, I was sold on the logic of presenting this lure on TV and telling my story directly to people. I liked that. If the infomercial succeeded, we could bypass all the doors that were closed to me, and tell our story right to the customer.
I said, “Okay, let’s make an infomercial but our way.” Real fishing shots, real user stories, real shots from the Hawg Trough, real-life fishing on TV – not some goofy contrived script with a cheering audience. Let’s put it all on TV!
We went to National Media Corp., the world’s largest infomercial company. They took one look at the lure and loved the idea. They funded the TV production of the infomercial on the spot. And the rest is history.
Jay: So I gotta ask, even though I already know the answer (laughs) – will the RotoTail be sold on an infomercial?
Alex: Yes, but in a different way. We’re be testing 2-minute spots, so not the half-hour-long infomercials like we ended up doing for the Flying Lure. If they work, great. If not, we may try some different ones or we may sell it in stores.
Jay: Why aren’t you selling it in stores now?
Alex: Taking it directly to fishermen and showing them how it works has worked for me. It’s what I like – as a businessman and a fisherman. As a fisherman I want to see it working. I want to know how it works, why it works, how I can use it. Otherwise it’s just lure number 1 million and 32 that’s just sitting there in a package.
That’s not what my lures are. They’re different, unique, tested to the Nth degree and work as advertised.
Jay: You told me it’s the 20th anniversary of the Flying Lure. It’s been off the market for a while – I bet a lot of adult anglers don’t even know what it is. Will you start selling it again?
Alex: Yes. For some reason, when we launched the RotoTail we started getting calls about the Flying Lure – people wanted them. I don’t know if they connected the dots or what, but we’re actively working on getting that operation ramped up again. Flying Lures will be sold online only for now.
Jay: Maybe think about just the jighead part of the Flying Lure. I’d buy those if I could use them with any plastics.
Alex: Sorry, the Flying Lure jigheads are only made to work with the original Flying Lure.
Have you seen Mike Iaconelli’s latest book on finesse fishing? In it, Mike says he was a fan of the Flying Lure back when he was just starting out and reveals a finesse technique he still uses to mimic it. It involves a french fry-type of worm, which has flat sides. He stuck a nail-type weight into the tail of this worm and Texas-rigged it on the other end, and it kind of swam under cover like the Flying Lure. Why don’t you try that one?
Jay: What bait would you rather fish, the Flying Lure or the RotoTail?
Alex: Depends on the situation. I’d pick the Flying Lure if I was trying to get to fish under undercut banks or docks – places you absolutely can’t get under with a conventional lure. In those situations it’s an indispensable tool.
It’d use the RotoTail mostly if I was fishing a weed jungle or if the water was stained or muddy. The RotoTail’s rotating soft-blade tail does something no other soft plastic in history has ever done: It generates vibration.
The end of the tail is basically a soft Colorado blade, so the bait is like a cross between a worm and a spinnerbait. But unlike a spinnerbait, it just slides through weeds and obstructions.
Fish feel the vibration and are attracted to it from long distances. That greatly expands the strike zone for a soft-plastic lure. And the vibration you feel on your rod tip is just amazing.
Crazy RotoTail Deal
And there you have it. Add whatever pinch o’ salt makes you mostly comfortable. Like I said, Alex is a diehard basser, and because I won a bet (haha) he’s agreed to offer the $19.99 RotoTail kit to BassParaders/BassBlasters for the down-low deal of $9.99 plus shipping/handling.
You can only order ‘em here for a limited time, so if you’re even remotely curious – and imo you maybe should be because the fish haven’t seen these things – they won’t get any cheaper.
That’s the best sales pitch I can do for a buddy! And btw, couple things about the RotoTails from my own experience:
> RotoTails work great in clear water too.
> Awesome trailer.
> Awesome bait for kids. Mine love’ em, rigging them and fishing them – the latter because they’re easy to cast, you can’t fish ‘em wrong and they catch fish.
Here’s a snippet of the bait in action: