Interest in the identification of this bait originates with Mike Hines, who was asking around about an aluminum color lure marked "Killer Diller". Mike's inquiry and the lure, pictured and described, were published in the NFLCC Gazette column "Can You ID? ? ?". (NFLCC Gazette, Nov. 2002, Vol.27 No.95 p.11)
More information about the lure appeared on Joe's Old Lures Bulletin Board soon after the Gazette's distribution:
"LURE ID MADE IN DECEMBER NFLCC GAZETTE
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Posted by MIKE HINES on Friday, December 27, 2002 at 5:58PM :
one of my long time unidentified lures appears in the december gazette---top left lure on page 11 marked "killer diller"---i had this lure long long time and no one could ID but pretty certain it was made by south bend. thanks to jack leslie in mooresville indiana we now know who marketed it at least. he has 2 of these lures, both in same 2 peice(sic) box, and 1 same color and marked same as mine. seems they were sold as "stoneys spinner" by the main auto supply co. ft. wayne,ind and the box also says "indiana's great auto and athletic supply house"---its a good bet they didnt actually make the lure but sold them under their own name and boxes--the boxes jack has are nice blue/silver color---his other bait is a red/white---so it looks like we can call this one a stoney's spinner and be safe---any of you indiana bait collectors interested let me know becuase now that i know what it is its for sale. mine is excellent condition with small chip on 1 painted tack eye. 1 other collector contacted me and they have 1 identical lure and another marked "rico diller" so there are a few around but not many.
-- MIKE HINES
* any chance of seeing a pic?? - Bunky 6:53PM 12/27/2002 (Zz1Al)
* I have one in the box also - David Saalfrank 6:17PM 12/27/2002 (AtWFy)"
The lure and box pictured above are the same box and lure that were posted to the discussion thread of this topic in a later message.
There is further evidence that suggests this lure's origin could be South Bend.
The Nappanee "Ypsi" bait depicted in a number of editions of Luckey's work (6th Edition, pg. 682 for example) is seemingly a Stoney's Spinner.
Luckey got his story from Dave Culp who wrote in detail about the Ypsi in the NFLCC Gazette (Nov. 1991, Vol.15 No.50 p.15.) Dr. Culp relates this history of the Ypsi:
"The name Ypsi was adopted when the bait was first manufactured by the Ypsilanti Minnow Bait Company. In the 1940s, South Bend Bait Company notified A.H. Kaufman and Company that they could no longer manufacture the Ypsi bait. Soon, they began manufacturing the Nip-I-Diddee for themselves, which except for having only two treble hooks, was seemingly a close copy of the Ypsi. Lawyers advised that the bait was not patentable and that South Bend was free to take this action.
Ypsi baits were purchased from the manufacturer in 300 dozen lots of all styles and colors. They were produced in six colors, which in order of popularity, were aluminum, yellow, red head/yellow body, red head/aluminum body, black or red. These were solid colors with no scales, stripes or other detail. The surface model was somewhat fatter than the other models. Generally the propellers had bushings, and were made in two weights."
Given that the Ypsi was a well-known bait design, and that South Bend possibly manufactured stocks of the lure under unclear claims to trademark and copyright privilage, the distribution of the stock through a variety of local markets would be logical. The historical origin of Stoney's Spinner could well be a Ypsi model produced by South Bend.
More Conclusive Evidence
Within a day after posting this story, Henry C. Norris made it known that he had the same lure in a very similar box.
Henry's box is the same construction and color as the Stoney's Spinner box except for two key differences. There is no silver Stoney's Spinner label glued to the box top, and the box end is stamped "910 RY".
A quick look into Luckey's 6th edition on page 609 reveals that the model number for South Bend's Nip-I-Didee floater was "910". This would seem to corroborate Culp's understanding of South Bend's role in the history of production and distribution of the Ypsi.
It's interesting to note that the same lure, or a facsimile, is pictured on the cover of the 4th edition of Luckey's "Old Fishing Lures and Tackle". There is no reference in the book as to the identification of the bait pictured on the cover.
In regard to the printed phrase "Killer Diller" found on some Stoney's Spinners; "Diller" may be a reference to Henry Dills of the Creek Chub Bait Company. This is, of course, complete conjecture, an indication that there is further history to unveil and record.
Thank you to the collectors who shared their questions and knowledge about this obscure bait, and made this history possible. Any and all further information about this lure, and history about other little known hoosier baits, is appreciated. I also collect miscellaneous Indiana baits too! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and contributions.
Copyright 2003 Peter Tagtmeyer