Arbogast Jitterbug ad circa 1940.

Here are a couple of cool Fred Arbogast ads from the June 1940 Hunting and Fishing magazine featuring a bait that is still manufactured by Arbogast parent company PRADCO, the Jitterbug, and another that hasn’t been made for more than 40 years, the Hawaiian Wiggler.

The Jitterbug ad is neat for a couple of reasons. First off, it lets you know that this bait has been around a long time. Also, back then the baits were all made of wood. The bait also features the option of double or treble hooks – all for the cost of a Washington. The pictures of the anglers are also interesting. That’s a nice string of fish Mr. Webster is hanging on to but I really wonder if that fish Mr. Sutton is holding really weighs in at 10 pounds. I guess we’ll never know.

As for the Hawaiian Wiggler, this bait was made for over a half a century and was one effective bait. If you go back and read magazines of the time, many upon many anglers reported catching big numbers of fish with the inline spinner – even up through the early Bassmaster events. One thing that caught my attention, though, was the rubber skirt attached to the bait.

Arbogast Hawaiian Wiggler ad circa 1940.

This form of skirt, called living rubber, I didn’t know existed prior to the late 60s. A little research in Kevin Virden’s book, Fred Arbogast, A Biography of Akron’s Greatest Angler, unearthed the mystery for me.

Arbogast worked for Goodyear in the rubber industry for 15 years and because of this experience, knew how to work with rubber.  Prior to the development of the Hawaiian Wiggler, he made a bait called the Shaker.  The bait was designed to get deep where the fish were and was produced between 1934 and 1936.

The problem with the Shaker was the skirt – hand-tied deer hair and feathers.  Hand tying was labor intensive and Arbogast was looking for a quicker way to turn out baits.  To decrease the labor, he turned to making skirts out of rubber.  In doing that, Arbogast invented the living rubber skirt in 1936 and introduced the Hawaiian Wiggler shortly thereafter.

In the ad, Arbogast refers to the skirt as a 40-streamer skirt and they could be bought separately to change the color of your bait quickly. The Wiggler itself was between 75¢ and 85¢ and the skirts could be purchased for a measly 25¢.

What I also like about this ad is what the anglers are wearing. Button-up shirts and the gentleman on the left is even sporting a tie. Far cry from the die-sublimated attire anglers wear today. That string of fish from a 1940s-era Wheeler Lake are pretty impressive too.


Past Reader Comments:

Banks:  Lordy, I believe the wiggler must’ve been one of the first buzz-baits. my buddies and I used it heavily on the Tennessee river in the mid 70’s. We caught a lot of nice bass with it. I still have a couple without the skirt, which of course dry-rotted. Boy it was hard to get on plane with those 5:1 reels, but it was effective and fun to use.  Funny thing, it was meant to be fished mainly underwater as a spinnerbait.

RichZ:  Love those old ads. Love the Hawaiian Wigglers, too, Caught a lot of fish on them back in the ’70s. But they got replaced by overhead spinners somewhere along the way.

Your comments about the anglers brought back memories of an old South Bend catalog I once owned. It was littered with pictures of a guy named “Cal Johnson”, who might’ve been the first pro fishing lure endorser. Always fished dressed like he was on the way to church. And seemed to always use lures with -O-Reno tagged onto their names. Bass-O-Reno, Pike-O-Reno, etc.

Terry to RichZ:  Hey Rich, glad you liked the post. You’ll like tomorrow’s then too.  About the dress code, I remember reading fishing articles by Hemmingway and Zane Grey and looking at their pictures fighting marlin all over the world in suits. I’m sure glad that didn’t stick.