Virgil Ward Bass Buster Ad from 1972.

Oh the days when I could go into a TG&Y or Woolworths, head down the tackle isle, pick up five purple Tarantulas, pay the cashier $4.95 plus the six-percent California sales tax and head to my local golf course pond for some fishing after school. This was a pretty common affair for me as a 12-year-old kid.

I have no clue how many Bass Buster Tarantulas, Beetle Spins and Scorpions I went through between the ages of 12 and 14 but it was a lot. Then at 14, I started working at the tackle shop and my days of the “cheap” lures were over – I had to buy the “better” Markey spinnerbaits at $2.99 and the Beetle Spin turned into a “crappie” lure. I wasn’t a crappie fisherman – so I told myself.

Then when I was around 17, still in high school, one of my fishing buddies and I headed for the “course” for an evening of dodging balls and catching bass. He worked the sportfishing boats out of Long Beach and didn’t bass fish much anymore, while I was already three years into tournament fishing.

We get to the pond and I notice he has a black Tarantula tied on. I laughed at him, told him why it was “no good” and commenced fishing. One cast later he set the hook into a decent 3-pound Lakewood Golf Course bass. Next cast, the same. Sixteen or 17 fish later, I’m begging him for one – he just smiled and went on kicking my butt.

Bass Buster may have made inexpensive baits but they worked. That’s all that mattered. Yeah, there are still Beetle Spins, worms and underspins but there are no short-arm blades like the old Tarantula and Scorpion that I know of nor is there any company making a skirt like that old thick, flat rubber.

Maybe it’s time someone resurrect them.

Ned Kehde of In-Fisherman Magazine recently wrote a significant article for his In-Fish Blog regarding four legends of the past, including Virgil Ward – the original owner of Bass Buster Lures. To read this piece, click here



Past Reader Comments:

RichZ:  I never thought of Scorpions and Tarantulas as ‘cheap’ lures. The earliest ones were the only spinnerbaits I ever used where the loop at the swivel was soldered closed. The Tarantula in particular was one of my ‘go-to’ baits in the ’70s and even into the early ’80s.

FWIW, Zorro still makes a great short arm single spin.

Andy Williamson to RichZ and Terry:  Thanks, Terry for the great articles. I will pay good money for any Bass Buster Tandem Spins, which came in either 1/4 or 3/8. The short lower arm combined with the extra long upper arm and the no. 7 rear Colorado blade, throbbed tremendously. Back around ’78 when they quit making them, I tried to contact Virgil Ward to give me any leads on a supply, but I only talked to his secretary and nothing ever became of it. I also love the Scorpion and Tarantula and still use them today (I probably only have 3 or 4 left, combined). Thank goodness I discovered Sloan’s short arm Aggravator about 20 years ago. It is the closest thing to a Scorpion that I have found.

And RichZ, I liked the Marsh Invader jig. Sorry I didn’t win the 1991 Big Bass World Championship on one, which could have really put it (and you) in the spotlight.

Terry to RichZ:  Hey Rich, it was the 14 year-old kid in me that thought they were old and cheap. 🙂 It wasn’t until later that I realized what a great bait they were. And yes, that soldered arm was amazing.

As for the Zorro bait, I had no idea anyone still made them. I need to check into that. Thanks for the link!