Lake Sam Rayburn

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Creme Lures Celebrates 70 Years

by
Brad Wiegmann Outdoors
As a professional outdoor writer, my articles and product reviews have appeared in print and websites locally and nationally. I write feature articles and product reviews for Internet and print mediums. Arkansas Sportsman, Southern Outdoors, Outdoor Life, Bassmaster, and other magazines and print medium have featured me as a professional guide and tournament angler.




Its one thing to deceive a fish into biting, but an even bigger challenge is to get an angler to buy a lure. No one understood that statement more than Nick Creme. Nick not only invented the plastic worm, but also influenced anglers to purchase his newly invented lure that would impact the fishing world forever.


Before plastic lures became a staple in every angler’s tackle box most lures were made from wood, metal or a combination of both. Other available lures during that period included “rubber” worms that rarely fooled fish or anglers into buying them. Nick’s keen interest in chemistry would turn out to be the key to solving the issue of making a lifelike worm unlike the rubber worm.


After World War II in 1949, Nick was a machinist living in the hub of major tire companies like Firestone and Goodyear in Akron, Ohio. He had only finished his second year of high school before being forced to go to work due to his father’s illness. Nick had no chemistry background, but a keen interest in learning that would later prove to be paramount in the construction of the original plastic worm.


He eliminated different material for making his lure through trial and error. Nick turned to plastics as the solution to his problem. He told a DuPont technician about his idea for a plastic worm. The technician gave Nick several chemicals that might solve the issue with the chemicals he currently had. Eventually Nick was able to develop this into a formula to produce his lure.


Nick solicited the help of many individuals during the process of creating the plastic worm. In the end, his biggest collaborator turns out to be his wife Cosma. In fact, her kitchen became the official laboratory of the Crème worm. It’s reported that Cosma would comment, “Oh, how that plastic smelled when it burned.”


Although still the family’s kitchen, nights and weekends were spent cooking up different batches of “Gogh” as it was called. Gogh was a mixture of polymer, pigments and oils. After cooking it, the Gogh was carried downstairs to pour into the worm mold Nick had made and after experimenting with different potions they came up with the perfect formula.


It was the American Dream came true. A fisherman had built a lifelike lure that would catch fish, lots of fish. However, it turned out anglers weren’t so quick to accept this new lure.


“Nick told me many times he had a hard time with jokes and pranks being used with his worms. Party tricks seemed the perfect place to add his worm to salads and such. The reality sunk in as he knew that even though he had invented a great lure, he had to show people how to catch fish with them,” said Wayne Kent who bought the company in 1989.


In those days, angler’s favorite way to catch bass was on live night crawlers. Ohio bass anglers would rig a night crawler on a harness with three hooks, beads and one small propeller. Naturally, Nick rigged his plastic worm the same way as the live crawler rig which continues to be a productive combination today 70 years later.


Nick put a mail-order ad in Sports Afield in 1951 for the 6-inch Wiggle Worm. It had a 3 hook harness rig. Anglers could also order a pack of five individual worms without the harness rig.

Real success for Creme Lures didn’t happen until the plastic worm was used in the South. Anglers were going crazy over the plastic lure. Reports of unbelievable catches began to reach the Crème’s in Akron, Ohio.


In February 1959, Wayne Kent was working summers and after school at the Bait and Tackle Shop on East Front Street owned by Milton Goswick. “I would count minnows and worms there. I also had a front row seat in the plastic worm revolution. At that time the United States was building lakes and the easiest way was simply to bulldoze the trees and place them in large piles close to the dam. Presto, you had a lake,” said Wayne.


Carl Lowrance introduced the Fish Lo-K-Tor in 1957 or “Green Box” as it became known. It was the first functioning depth finder for anglers capable of revealing underwater depth, bottom hardness and most importantly bass in real time. Anglers could now see below the surface, but there was no lure at that time able to fish in the logs and brush piles.


Around that period of time an angler on nearby Lake Tyler came up with what was later called a Texas Rig. Rumor has it that he cut the brass pin out of a bell sinker and ran his line through it with a hook behind it. Then he would thread a plastic worm on the hook and place the tip of the hook into the worm making it snagless for fishing in cover.


“This was the first time in fishing history that a hook was placed into the lure. The amazing rig allowed anglers to achieve their dream-fish the log piles. This one rig skyrocketed Creme’s plastic worm,” said Wayne.


Anglers everywhere learning about the Texas Rig were clamoring for Creme’s plastic worms. This brought Tyler, Texas front and center to the Creme’s back in Akron, Ohio. So much in 1960 they built a second plant in Tyler. Both plants continued to operate for several years before they were combined in the Tyler plant where it remains today.


Wayne remembers waiting on customer after customer wanting Creme worms. “At one time I would only put names on a paper bag to hold under the counter filling them if and when they ever got the worms. One afternoon, I heard my boss Milton place a long distance call to Creme Lures in Akron, Ohio, and back in those days long distance phone calls were rare and very expensive. He was speaking with Mrs. Creme and after explaining his problem and offering her an order; Mrs. Creme advised him they were months behind and only sold product through distributors. It was at that time that he asked her if she liked roses explaining Tyler, Texas, was the Rose Capital of the World. Unfortunately, she thought it was Seattle and told him she couldn’t fill the order,” said Wayne.


After finishing the call Wayne listened as his boss called a local rose grower and ordered two dozen rose bushes to be sent to Mrs. Creme in Akron, Ohio. “It was about two or three weeks later after that the Bait and Tackle Shop was covered up with Creme worms. I’m not sure if that’s why they settled in on moving to Tyler, Texas, but it surely didn’t hurt,” said Wayne.


Even with booming sales, Nick knew he had to get the word out on what a Texas Rig was and how to rig it. Of course back then there was no internet or national bass tournament trail. Fishing knowledge was spread through the local fishing retail tackle store.


“The Texas Rig presented a challenge for Nick to spread the word. Merely saying use a Texas Rig to catch them would be met with a blank stare from other anglers. Nick not only invented the plastic worm, but now had to find a way to explain it to anglers everywhere without modern technology to spread the word,” said Wayne.


Field testers were the answer to Nick’s communications problem. Yes, Nick Creme invented them too revealed Wayne. “In fact, one of the first was the now famous Bill Dance,” said Wayne.


Other field testers followed including sponsoring the first professional angler John Powell paying him $1,800. Powell did B.A.S.S. seminars along with winning the second ever B.A.S.S. tournament on Smith Lake in Alabama. Powell’s reputation was notorious as a shallow water soft plastic worming expert.


Wayne acknowledged many of today’s products were direct spinoffs of the Creme worm. “Bullet shaped slip sinkers are a modification of the first bell sinker with the eyelets removed. Graphite worm rods were developed so anglers could feel the tap-tap or thump of a bass biting a soft plastic Creme worm. A whole category of worm rods were developed referred to as broom sticks allowing anglers to set the hook on a bass when fishing plastic worms. Plus baitcasting reels really gained popularity with the ability to control a cast,” said Wayne.


Today many of the plastic lures are spinoffs from the original Creme (www.cremelure.com) plastic worm. In fact, soft plastic lures are a separate lure category. Old records at Creme Lures even show Nick being the first to add scent to plastic with his “Cheese Nip” flavor.


Now it’s the 70th anniversary of Creme Lures. Looking back, Nick and Cosma Creme would have never thought they would have influenced so many anglers and the fishing industry. He was just a machinist with a dream to build a better way to catch a bass at the right place, right time.




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Lake Sam Rayburn Fishing Report from TPWD (Jul. 17)

Water stained; 85–89 degrees; 0.49’ high. Black bass are fair on watermelon Rat–L–Traps and shad colored crankbaits. White bass are fair on minnows and Li’l Fishies. Crappie are good on minnows over brush piles in 15–30 feet. Bream are slow. Catfish are good on trotlines baited with live bait and liver.