Fred Arbogast was one of the true pioneers of the fishing lure industry. As with so many who enter the lure business, it began as a hobby. Arbogast began by carving lures for himself and friends while employed by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. As his lures began to become popular with area anglers, some of the local tackle shops began asking if they could buy them to sell in their stores. Soon after, Arbogast became aware that he was really on to something. Armed with this new-found popularity and confidence in his lures, he resigned from Goodyear and decided to enter the lure business in earnest…that was in 1926. Two years later, the Fred Arbogast Company was officially formed.
The first lure Arbogast chose to begin his new company was the Spin-tail Kicker. Not a wooden lure, but one cast of tin. Anglers could bend the “wings” of the lure to alter its action to suit their fishing conditions. This lure became an instant success owing to its ability to catch fish. Arbogast chose the June 1926 issue of The Hunting and Fishing Magazine to run his first advertisement. The success of that one ad launched his hobby into the fishing lure business in a big way. A new lure, similar to the Spin-tail Kicker, was launched the next year. It was named the Tin Liz. Additional sizes of this lure were introduced and their success followed in the footsteps of earlier models.
The next Arbogast lure to be introduced was the Hawaiian Wiggler. Interest in Hawaiian culture and music was very popular at the time so Arbogast decided to capitalize on that appeal to name his newest lure. To provide color and flash he created a skirt of thin rubber sheets cut into narrow strips. This “hula skirt” was such an instant success that he quickly applied for a patent which was granted in 1938. This unique and popular addition to any fishing lure remains a staple in every tackle box today.
Fred Arbogast was a competitive bait caster, reigning as the national champion in 1922, 1923 and 1924. He also broke the world’s long-distance casting record of 250 feet in 1924. It was this love of casting that prompted his interest in fishing lures. He really enjoyed watching bass explode on a topwater lure. This passion led him to create some of the world’s most popular topwater lures such as the Jitterbug® and Hula Popper®. These lures are still atop every list of all-time favorite topwater lures, still prompting smiles on the faces of pro and novice anglers alike as they witness a big bass explode on their Arbogast lure. It is this same passion for topwater excitement that continues to inspire the Arbogast lure designers today. Those heart-stopping, surface-shattering strikes will always be what fishing an Arbogast lure is all about.