The cover of the 1950 Fred Arbogast Baits Catalog.

From the number of Fred Arbogast ads we post, it may seem like this is the Fred Arbogast Archives instead of the Bass Fishing Archives.  But it’s all for a good reason.  When we see something special, we have to share it.  That’s the case with today’s post, Fred Arbogast Catalog 1950.

Out of all the tackle companies and the ads they placed, it’s my opinion that Arbogast has the best advertising of all companies from the 1920s through the early 1960s.  Their ads were well thought out, included their customers, and had style.  Maybe that’s because the baits themselves were so brightly colored and bizarre compared to the rest of the lot.  The baits were just plain photogenic.

The first thing I do with any catalog I acquire is try and date it.  A lot of the time that’s an easy task because the company has placed the year the catalog was put out.  But in many cases, this one included, we have to do a bit of sleuth work to find out the year.

I couldn’t find the year inside the catalog so the next step is to look to see if there were any bait introductions.  By chance, there was.  On page 13 Fred Arbogast was introducing the Hula Diver for the first time.  From there it was as simple as pulling out Kevin Virden’s book, The Fred Arbogast Company, Incorporated, Fishing Lure Collector’s Guide 1940 – 1997, and seeing when the bait was first produced.  The answer was that easy to find.

Opening the catalog and skimming through the pages, it was obvious this was an early catalog.  There were only eight pages dedicated to baits.  At the time the company only had six standard baits plus a line of fly rods baits, all of which were just smaller versions of the baits already described.

The first two pages of the catalog featured a two-page spread introducing you to the company and Fred Arbogast.  Although Fred had died in 1947, the company hadn’t forgotten who built them.  They felt it important that Fred open the catalog with some words of wisdom and a thank you to all who support the company.

Pages 2 and 3 of the 1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog with a letter from Fred to his customers. Arbogast died in 1947 of a heart attack but the company never forgot its root until they sold in 1997.

One of the things I like about Arbogast’s advertising was he always included his customers’ catches in one way or another.  This catalog was no exception.  Every other page is filled with photos of happy Fred Arbogast anglers and their catches.  Such a simple thing to do yet very business minded as I am sure these people were devout Arbogast customers for life.

Next the Hula Popper is shown on page 5.  Introduced in 1940, and only as a fly rod bait, in 1948 the company introduced the casting rod version of the bait.  It weighed in at 5/8-ounce and came in eight colors according to this catalog.  By 1950 they also offered the 1/4-ounce version of the lure.

The Hula Popper was first introduced in 1940 in only one size, the Fly Rod size. In 1948 the casting version was released.

The following page had another iconic bait, the Jitterbug.  We have talked at length about the Jitterbug on the pages of this site, so I won’t bore you with too long a discussion here.  The Jitterbug was first introduced in late 1938 and was a hit within the first few months.  It quickly became a noted night fishing bait and one that caught big bass.

Looking at the catalog, you see they were offered in 5/8-, 3/8-, and 1 1/4-ounce sizes.  And the renderings on the page are just out of this world.

In late 1938, Fred Arbogast came out with the Jitterbug and it was an overnight success. One of the best bass lures of all time, it is also credited as being the best big bass lure ever.

Pages 9 and 11 feature the Hawaiian Wiggler series of baits.  These were heavy cover baits designed to be fished effectively in the weeds.  Five of the baits had what we’d consider a buzz-type blade on the front and actually resemble an inline spinner.  The two others more closely resemble a Johnson Spoon.  All came with Arbogast’s rubber Hula Skirt.

The Hawaiian Wiggler in its various versions was introduced in 1936 and got its name from the popularity of the Hawaiian dance, The Hula.

The next two pages featured what I’d call a contemporary crankbait design.  The first bait, on page 12, was the Hula Dancer.  This was that closely resembled a Clark’s Water Scout except it had a Hula Skirt on the rear hook.  Debuted in 1946, the Hula Dancer was another popular bait that caught fish.  It came in nine standard colors and three “Fireplug” finishes.

On page 13, the deeper version of the Hula Dancer is being debuted.  This bait garnered the name Hula Diver, and had a longer diving lip than the Hula Dancer.  Both baits were slow sinking but because of the longer lip, the Hula Diver could reach deeper water.

The Hula Dancer was introduced in 1946 and following in 1950, the Hula Diver was born. Made to get deeper, the Hula Diver was only around for a few years before it was discontinued.

The last two pages of the catalog featured extra Hula Skirts, the Twin Liz, and the fly rod sized lures.  Again, the renderings of the baits is breathtaking and done in that colorful illustration style the company was famous for.

But there was one more item on the last page that caught my attention.  That was the Free Fishing Movies in Full Color.  I wonder where these movies went and if they even exist today.  It would be a shame if they all got thrown out.  Imagine the history one could learn by watching these period movies.  I might have to ask the folks at PRADCO if they even knew the movies existed.

That’s about it for Fred Arbogast Catalog 1950.  A short catalog filled with a ton of great history.  To see the entire catalog, scroll below and click on ach image.

If you like to read more on Fred Arbogast Baits, please click on the links throughout the body of this post.




1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Front Cover
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 2
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 3
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 4
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 5
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 6
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 7
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 8
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 9
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 10
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 11
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 12
The Hula Dancer was introduced in 1946 and following in 1950, the Hula Diver was born. Made to get deeper, the Hula Diver was only around for a few years before it was discontinued.
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 14
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Page 15
1950 Fred Arbogast Catalog Back Cover