Classic Lures: Mepps Original Spinner

News & Tips: Classic Lures: Mepps Original Spinner

With all of the technological advancements in lure making it might seem foolhardy to turn to offerings invented decades ago. That seems especially true with the high pressure many fishing waters receive today. We need computer-designed offerings with ultra-realistic finishes to fool today's sophisticated gamefish. Right?

Not necessarily. Some of the best lures you can tie on today were invented by anglers many generations ago who had one goal: not to become famous or get rich, but to catch more fish. Some are still used regularly, others not so much. But all of them deserve the term "classic lures." In this occasional series we'll look at a few of them, how they were invented and how you can use them still to catch even today's "sophisticated" gamefish.

Mepps Spinner

ClassicLures MeppsAgliaOriginalSpinner
Mepps Aglia Original Plain Spinner

Todd Sheldon was biding his time in his sports shop in Antigo, Wisc., shortly after World War II when a GI walked in and placed a handful of Mepps spinners on the counter that he'd picked up in Europe. It was a generous gift. But Sheldon didn't realize just how generous it was at the time.

He put them in his personal tackle box, where they languished for a while without him giving them much thought. Finally, one day when he was fishing the Wolf River and having poor luck, he remembered the special flashy spinners. Tying one of the Mepps artificials on his line, he cast out and began reeling back steadily. A strike came quickly. Then he caught another fish, and another. Before long, he had quickly limited out.

Soon Sheldon traced the spinners back to their place of origin, France. They had been used there since Andre Meulnart invented them in 1938 and had been catching fish steadily for Europeans. He ordered several boxes and began selling them in his sport shop. Word spread quickly about the tremendous fish-catching powers of the flashy new spinning lures.

In 1960, Sheldon obtained North American distribution rights to Mepps lures, and in 1972 purchased Mepps France. The company has expanded to offer a number of different spinners and other lures, but the classic Aglia Spinner is still its best seller. When Sports Afield magazine used to give awards for outstanding trophy fish, more were caught on the Aglia than any other offering.


Mepps spinners work on all gamefish from diminutive panfish to leg-long pike and muskies. For stream trout and sunfish, try a size 0 or 1. Big crappies and walleyes like a size 2. Bass, salmon and steelhead will slam size 3 and 4 spinners. For pike and muskellunge, move up to size 5 spinners.

These lures are particularly appealing because they are easy for anyone to catch fish with. The best retrieve is smooth and steady. Simply cast to likely cover or prime areas in rivers like pools, eddies and rock piles and retrieve evenly. Try different depths by letting the lure sink before retrieving. Use faster retrieves in warmer weather when fish are aggressive. Work the lure slower and deeper if a cold front has passed through. Go with fluorescent models in off-color water, silver on bright days, copper or gold on cloudy days.

Yes, it's a simple lure. And it's old. But the Mepps spinner still catches plenty of fish.