Classic Lures: Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon

News & Tips: Classic Lures: Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon...

Louis Johnson, a retired Chicago foundry operator, was frustrated by the abundance of weeds that kept fouling the hooks on his lures in his favorite fishing lake. Eager to overcome the problem, he began tinkering with some household items, including a dinner spoon.

ClassicLuresJohnsonSilverMinnowSpoon blog
Nearly a century later, anglers are still reaching into their weedy-water tackle box for the Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon.

After cutting the handle off, he soldered a hook to it and a weed guard to catch the vegetation that was frustrating his fishing efforts. The silver plating on the spoon was brighter than the chrome or the polished steel lures available at the time. And the stiff weed guard was firm enough to ward off the abundant weeds, yet flexible so it bent down when a fish struck the lure.

The year was 1920. And it marks the birth of one of the best lures ever invented for fishing in vegetation: the Johnson Silver Minnow. While Johnson's first effort caught fish, he knew it needed more work and fine-tuning.

After many experiments, Johnson eventually forged a spoon out of a copper-zinc alloy that was thicker in the middle than on the edges. This concentrated the weight in the center and made the spoon ride with the hook up, reducing snags further. It also made the lure rock back and forth on the retrieve, instead of spinning and causing line twist.

Nearly a century later, the Johnson Silver Minnow still stands as one of the greatest lures for fishing in weeds ever invented. A wide variety of sizes are available that will catch anything from bluegills to muskies, flounder to tarpon. Colors range from black to fluorescent orange and chartreuse, but silver is still the top seller.

Anyone who plans a day of fishing where there are weeds without a few Johnson Silver Minnows in their box is handicapping themselves severely. Sure there are new, more modern lures that will also work well. But this tired and proved old standby still deserves a few trays in your weedy-water tackle box.


Cast right into thick weeds or work pockets on the outer edge of weed beds. Also try casting parallel to the edge where vegetation joins open water. Many strikes will come as the lure flutters down seductively after the cast. Slithering the lure over the top of weeds also produces. This lure also shines in stump fields and areas with standing timber. Wobble it past the cover and hang on tight.

For skittish fish, use the lure by itself. Often, however, a pork dressing or plastic trailer adds to the number of strikes. Don't just think of these lures as bass baits, though. They'll catch trout in high mountain lakes, jumbo crappies, pike, pickerel, muskies and plenty of feisty saltwater gamefish. Many northern anglers even swear by them for ice fishing, especially when tipped with live bait or a pork trailer.