Arbogast nighttime Jitterbug ad, Hunting and Fishing magazine, 1946.

I was nosing around on the NFLCC website and came across this wonderful ad for the Arbogast Jitterbug. It’s a 1946 nighttime Jitterbug ad that appeared in the June issue of Hunting and Fishing magazine of that year. If you listened to Ken Duke’s and Terry Battisti’s The Big Bass Podcast episode with Jimmy Zinker, where the three anglers talk about Zinker’s success at catching giant bass at night using a modified musky Jitterbug, and if you read Bill Sonnett’s recent BFA story, The Jitterbug and Night Fishing, then this ad should make you smile. I know it did for me. 

It seems that lately I’ve been inundated with messages telling me I need to get out on the lake after dark and throw a Jitterbug. I can’t tell if that’s just happenstance or if the fishing gods are actively trying to influence me. But after running across this old ad, I’m thinking the signs are starting to get too obvious to ignore, and might indeed be trying to tell me something. 

Credit where credit is due: This ad was collected, scanned and stored in the NFLCC archives by Jerry Martin, NFLCC Hall of Fame member and, by all accounts, a studious researcher and selfless teacher with a vast knowledge of antique and vintage fishing lures, tackle and companies. NFLCC member Jim Dorr wrote a fine biography of Martin, in which he stated, “Research into the lures he collected has been at least as important to Jerry as the lures themselves, as has been a desire to share the knowledge gained for the benefit of all collectors.” As I was poking around in the archives I saw Jim Dorr’s biography and thank you to Jerry Martin at the beginning of a number of files. If you’re not a member of the NFLCC, you should become one. It’s a fantastic source of fishing history and fun, and is well worth the investment.

Back to the ad. This Jitterbug ad follows the same effective format as most other Arbogast ads of the period. It’s got that brilliant juxtaposition of colored lures and black & white text and angler photos. Terry Battisti has written several articles on Arbogast ads where he too proclaims the effectiveness and visual dynamism of Fred Arbogast’s full page ads. Battisti writes, “In the later part of the 1940s, Arbogast would run full-page color ads. In my opinion, the coolest ads he ran were the black and white print ads where the lure itself was adorned in color. They really popped out of the page and elicited your attention.” I agree…these ads are dynamite!

This one includes two angler photos, Miss Tina Boel of Rensselaer, New York, with a nice stringer of bass, and Bob Ellenberger of St. Louis, Missouri with a seven pound largemouth. Each angler has the letter they wrote to Arbogast next to their photograph, and it’s Ellenberger’s that is the real prize and relevant to this nighttime Jitterbug ad. He writes, “Dear Fred, This seven pound Missouri bass was taken from Fertility Lake on a black Jitterbug. This plug has hung well over a hundred bass for me but this is the largest. Did you ever listen to the Jitterbug work on water for a few hours before midnight and then have the darn thing haunt you the rest of the night when you tried to get some shut eye?” Now that’s what I call a testimonial!

Detail from Arbogast nighttime Jitterbug ad, Hunting and Fishing magazine, 1946.

Above Ellenberger’s photo it indicates that in 1946 either a ⅜ or ⅝ oz. Jitterbug only cost $1.21, and you had six colors to choose from. Ah, the good old days…

Yup, great ad…and yes, I definitely hear the call of the nighttime Jitterbug. I’m wondering if/hoping that a Jitterbug is going to catch my PB one night this year.