Page 67 - Discover South Mississippi - Winter, 2024
P. 67

Gold Spoons. Safety Pin Spinnerbait. Jitterbug.
  Fred Arbogast began carving wooden lures in the 1920s. He added a wide metal lip to one of his carvings. Many people
said the lure made such a crazy commotion moving across the water that it reminded them of a popular dance of that time. The Jitterbug hit the market in 1939 and still entices vicious strikes.
In 1938, Arbogast attached a skirt to an arrow-shaped metal head with wire weed guards. The Hawaiian Wiggler came with a very large propeller that churned the surface when reeled fast. Today, we call that lure type a buzzbait.
Three years later, Arbogast put that same skirt on a wooden plug. With Hawaii prominent in the news in late 1941, the skirt reminded people of the grass skirts Hawaiian dancers wore. Arbogast called it a Hula Popper.
Another lure carver, Jack Smithwick noticed the propellers on World War II aircraft. He carved a wooden plug and added propellers to the front and back. His Devil’s Horse floating propbait became one of the best topwater bass lures ever invented.
Lauri Rapala, a commercial fisherman in Finland, observed how predators slash into baitfish schools, then single out the struggling wounded fish. In 1936, Rapala fashioned cork chunks into a long, slender minnow-shaped lure that mimicked how wounded baitfish swim. Rapala wrapped his creation in tinfoil and coated the body with melted photographic negatives to seal it because he could not obtain lacquer. Except for replacing cork with balsawood, the Rapala Original Floater remains essentially unchanged and still catches fish.
Look in any tackle box in Mississippi today and people will likely see these same lures, variations of them or imitations. These old lures, many virtually unchanged, remain popular because they still catch fish. Winter 2024   DISCOVER COASTAL MISSISSIPPI 67

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