Lures we have forgotten

The rage of getting a “hot” new lure in your tackle box is not new. In fact, the very same tizzy to get a new bait was going on in the seventies- and most likely before that. Everyone has to have that winning lure used by pro tournament bass anglers. The angler(s) who loaded the boat in a public bass event, or the new lure/color employed that embarrassed the rest of the bass club at the scales.

All of us bass fishermen are ever alert for the magic lure. For example, the win at a Guntersville Bassmaster Elite Trail by pro Paul Elias triggered the era of the Alabama Rig. While most of us were not quite sure how, when or where to fish the “A-Rig”, we knew we had to have at least one. Stories similar to this are part of the woven fabric of our obsession with bass fishing lures.

But our story is not about the latest, best fish catchin’ bait but about the hot lures that have pretty much fallen by the wayside. What happened? Did the lures that caught countless fish for you just all of a sudden stop working? Those lures were once the pride and joy of our tackle box but, either does not get a second glance in our new plastic box tackle boxes or, they have been relegated to storage in an old cigar box in the garage. Why do we no longer fish with those lures? Our conclusion, while not based on anything like a scientific study, is that newer hot baits came to our attention per paragraph one above.

Only bass anglers from probably 60 years old and up will even recall these lures no longer, or rarely, used by us fickle bass fishermen.

Let’s begin with a unique lure called the “Spoon Plug”. The Spoon Plug was a lure made entirely of bent, colored -metal. The lure is very efficient at catching bass while being trolled. The plug can also be cast or jigged off the bottom. The Spoon Plug and Buck Perry’s stories are located on

How about the Hellbender crankbait? This diver has a metal, heart-shaped diving bill and a small spinner attached to the tail. Back “then”, the “Pink Eyed Hellbender” was HOT! The lure was in such heavy use in North Alabama that a stretch of main river bank on Wilson Lake was dubbed “Hellbender Bank” by local anglers.

The Rebel lures Humpback Rebel put many bass in livewells. The current Bandit 200 series crankbait bears a close resemblance to the “old Humpback”. We could not get enough colors/combinations in our big Plano side drawer tackle boxes. Rebel has re-introduced the Humpback Rebel to their inventory and is trying to re-interest anglers in the lure.

The Big O was Cotton Cordell’s first “million-seller,” the first square-lip crankbait ever created. I remember the Big O crankbait was introduced while I was on active duty at Ft. Rucker, AL. and just beginning to fish with the post’s military bass club. The Big O, a “fat” lure, made an instant impact on bass anglers and was a “newly required” addition in your tackle box. Tournament fishermen were in a tizzy to locate the lures and colors desired.

The Storm (pre-Rapala purchase) Hot ‘N Tot is an outstanding deep diving crankbait with an indestructible metal diving lip. The Hot ‘N Tot resisted hanging-up and came in a variety of good colors. The lure has a wide side-to-side swing on retrieve and worked in shallow and deep applications. My favorite colors were the blue back and the yellow/red head.

The Fred Arbogast Mud Bug crankbait was one of the very first bass lures I procured. I actually sent a letter to the company inquiring about the crawfish mimicking Mudbug and received some free samples in return. The Mudbug also features a hardy metal diving bill and a fairly tight wiggle. The lure was offered in several sizes and colors.

Not many topwater lure add-ons have been introduced to the market. The one I am familiar with was the “Front Runner.” The Norman Front Runner made a splash with bass anglers back in the 1990s The Front Runner is a “teaser” that ran out in front of a topwater lure for added attraction. The lure is designed to imitate a baitfish being chased by another fish. A single hook was covered with a sparkle skirt. Adding the Front Runner to the fishing line impacted accurate casting of the trailing topwater plug. Basically, casting was close to “throwing” a Carolina-rigged lure.

Readers of the Southern Fishing News Facebook page noted two more lures that had died a slow death of usage by bass anglers – the Lazy Ike and the Sonic. You can probably think of more.

This limited review of previous “hot baits” is in no way all-inclusive, just the ones coming to mind from personal experience. Nor is the listing of these lures saying these lures are no longer available. Several are still readily available online. Just that the baits are no longer used by bass anglers anymore.

One final thought. Many bass anglers probably still have one or more original versions of these in their tackle box. The lures are simply not used either because an exact replacement is not available, because of the lure’s antique/personal value and/or new favorites have taken their place.


  1. Richard Laxson says:

    Good Article, Ronnie. I have a lot of the old lures. The Rebel’s, Storm, Hellbenders, Mike’s Hairy Minnow, etc. They still work. Thanks

  2. Don Gowen says:

    Being a youngster to this crowd (75 and counting) I can relate to this fine article by RonnieMac and attest to the validity of these old bass catching lures. In addition to the Pink-Eyed Hellbender, the Coach-Dog Hellbender in white with black strips was one of the best plus I ever used – and produced the majority of my bass over 8 lbs. Having chased Mr. Bass for in excess of 60 years I had accumulated three tackle boxes of these old tried and proven lures – until about (15)years ago – when a thief relieved me of them when the boat was parked in a storage lot. I believe I would use a double barreled 12 on him if I could catch him today. Young anglers like my grandson would be well served to ASK PERMISSION to “look through” and ole angler’s tackle box.

  3. Steve Sims says:

    Great article and the Front Runner still catches fish and the others also.