1979 Fred Arbogast Ad February Bassmaster Magazine

We’ve written a lot about Fred Arbogast and his company over time here at the Bass Fishing Archives.  Fred Arbogast started making lures in the 1920s and was one of the predominant casting champions in the 1920s through the 40s.  But today in Fred Arbogast 1979, we’re going to look back at the company long after his death in 1947 at the age of 53.

After Arbogast’s death, the company had a few presidents and vice presidents.  Then in 1957, the company hired Richard “Dick” Kotis as president.  Kotis would run the company through 1997, introducing more productive lures to go with those designed by Arbogast himself.  Kotis was an angler number one, which is what the company needed to stay relevant.  He brought that relevancy to bare through his fishing, design, and promotion of the Fred Arbogast Company.

In today’s three ads we’re going to look at one bait designed by Fred Arbogast and two that came around during the Kotis years.

The lead-in ad features one of Fred Arbogast’s most famous lures, the Jitterbug.  Named after the famous dance of the 1920s, the Jitterbug was patented in 1938 and to this day is still produced.  It has probably accounted for more “first bass” of any lure ever made, except for maybe the Hula Popper.

This ad features a color that had been discontinued 20 years prior, most likely due to the labor it would have taken to paint.  But with the new photo-printing that all the tackle manufacturers were embracing at this time, Kotis was able to bring to pattern back.  This pattern was the Leopard Frog pattern.

Looking at the ad itself, there’s a bass with a Jitterbug stuck on its gaping mouth, and a leopard frog looking into the fish’s mouth.  The color comparison of the real frog and the imitation is darn close.

The only thing that bothers me about the shot is how agape the mouth of that bass is.  The company had a penchant for doing this in all their ads of this series.

But that’s not all, as with every company during this era, this wasn’t just an ad, but a mail-order offer too.  Fred Arbogast Company was offering their new Stuff Bag, a 14-inch by 18-inch duffle bag good for your lunch, gear, or whatever you needed to stuff in it.  It was made out of denier nylon, just like the jackets of the day, and cost on $5.00.  Plus you’d get a full-line catalog with the deal.  I sure could use that catalog now.

1979 Arbogast Ad July-August Bassmaster Magazine

The second ad was for a new bait for 1979 called the Arby.  This was a deep diving jerkbait I assume was developed to compete with the Spoonbill Rebel Minnow.  It came in 1/4-, 3/8-, 5/8-, and 1 1/2-ounce sizes and was part of the line-up through 1997.  I’ve never seen or fished one so I can’t account for how effective it was.

The final ad in the trio is an ad for the Mud Bug.  This is a bait that was designed by Tony Dana of the Tru Shad Manufacturing Company (Virden 2018).  I’m not sure if Tru Shad was purchased by Fred Arbogast Company or just the lure.  In any event, the lure made it into the Fred Arbogast line in 1969.

1979 Arbogast Ad March-April Bassmaster Magazine

It should be obvious why this bait was designed and what it was meant to compete with, the Bomber.  Like Whopper Stopper, Dana saw a need to compete with Bomber and soon enough Kotis would find that he needed a bait of the same characteristics.

This was another one of the early baits I bought as a kid, primarily from reading magazines like Bassmaster and the Big Three.  I can’t say I ever caught many fish on the Mud Bug, mainly because I threw the 400 series Bomber more, but I did catch fish on it.  In fact, a lot of people caught fish on this bait.

Going deeper into the ad, though, you can see the same theme as the first ad.  Bass with mouth agape and a Mud Bug stuck in its jaw.  I look at that fish and think they must have propped that mouth open with a stick or something.

Well, that’s about all for today’s look at the Fred Arbogast ads from 1979.  I hope this isn’t getting too monotonous, but there were hundreds of ads placed this year and I don’t want to miss any of the ones I think are important with respect to tracking the history of the sport.

There is one last thing I want to leave you with, and that’s the name change post 1997 after Fred Arbogast Company was purchased by PRADCO.  Today, if you look at the baits on PRADCO’s website, you’ll notice that Fred Arbogast’s first name has been omitted.  To me this is a major letdown and disrespects the history of the company.  It wouldn’t take much at all to add four little letters to the name and give a man who did so much for the early industry, the respect he deserves.