Old Lures Can Work Best
As anglers, we always want to have the newest baits as soon as they come available. The rationale is simple – fish haven’t seen them yet, so it should be easy pickings.
That’s sound reasoning, but you can often get the same edge by looking to the past and dusting off some of those old classics you haven’t used since you were a kid. One true fact of fishing is that everything old is always new again. You haven’t seen some of these old lures in years, and chances are, neither have the fish. Try using baits you haven’t touched in years and guess what? You could be surprised at just how effective they are. Case in point – BASS tournament pro Zell Rowland made his career (along with tens of thousands of dollars in tournament winnings) with the Rebel Pop-R, a forgotten surface bait that had already been on the market for over 20 years when Rowland was cashing checks with it.
Is there magic in your garage? Why not clean off some of these old classics, sharpen or replace those hooks, and find out yourself? Here are a half-dozen of the very best lures of all time.
Fred Arbogast was a bass angler and tackle tinkerer who worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron Ohio. In 1926 he took the bold step of quitting his job and setting up his own fishing lure company. His first lure, the Tin Liz, was a moderate success, but it was the Jitterbug that rocketed the Arbogast Bait Company to international recognition. One of the all-time classic topwater lures, Jitterbugs went to catch literally millions of fish, including multiple records.
Arbogast Hula Popper
Another Fred Arbogast invention, the Hula Popper filled a real niche in surface lures. Where the Jitterbug was a proven killer for active fish, sometimes the bass needed a little extra enticement. Arbogast’s frilled rubber “Hula Skirt” added to the end of the popper proved to be exactly what they wanted, and the resulting Hula Popper went on to rival the Jitterbug as one of the most successful surface baits of all time.
Original Floating Rapala
Most anglers know the story of the original Floating Rapala – the Finnish balsa wood minnow that was so successful upon its introduction to North America that it was featured in a story by Time magazine and rationed to tackle dealers, some of whom only sold the lure under the counter at outrageous prices. Today they’re a lot easier to find, and every but as effective.
Heddon Tiny Torpedo
With its whirling rear propeller, the Heddon Tiny Torpedo was all the rage when it first came to market. But over time the old dependable became lost in a sea of flashy new competitors – too bad, really, since it still outperforms many of them. Fished in an agonizingly slow stop-and-go, there’s no more effective lure for super-spooky bass. The problem is, most people aren’t patient enough to fish it that slowly. We’re talking moving the bait maybe a foot at a time, then putting the rod down and not even touching it for two minutes or more between pulls.
Once the secret weapon of top anglers, Charlie Helin’s original banana-shaped Flatfish spawned a horde of knock-offs yet remains one of the most effective crankbaits of all time. It won’t dive very deep and it will roll over if you retrieve it too quickly. But its slow, throbbing side-to-side wobble is exactly what massive pike, walleye and bass crave when you’re casting over submerged weed flats on moonlit nights. It’s also murderous on salmon and steelhead.
A sensation following world war two when soldiers returning from Europe brought a few home, the original Mepps Aglia spinner remains one of the most versatile fish catchers of all time, responsible for hundreds of record catches worldwide. Effective for just about all types of fish, the Mepps Aglia has recently caught on with a handful of top pro anglers who consider it the ultimate stealth spinnerbait for covering water during tough conditions.