The Original Scrounger – 1976

Scrounger Lures ad from 1976.

Scrounger Lures ad from 1976.

There are a multitude of companies out there today that make a jig head which employs a plastic lip in order to provide movement to the head and trailer. Companies like Davis Bait Company, Kalin, Luck-E-Strike and Sworming Hornet are an example of manufacturers that produce this genre of heads today.

But it all got started in San Marcos, CA back in the early 70s by a company named North American Waters – makers of the Scrounger. Back then the Scrounger was offered in two sizes, 1/8 and 3/8 ounce, and with that you got the bill that they placed on it at the factory. No spares, no different sizes.

The head also came with a short-shank, cadmium plated hook that suffered from two things – 1) it was too short and 2) it wouldn’t hold a point. The anglers around the area looked at it mostly as a saltwater head for inshore fishing, which it was great for, but the bass anglers passed it over.

The company sold thousands of the heads over the course of a decade but they just didn’t seem to be able to keep things afloat. The company sold a couple of times and eventually around the early 90s went under. Those who cherished the head stormed the tackle shops to buy the remaining stock.

One of those anglers was Elite Series angler Aaron Martens.

Martens, who at the time was a teenager and terrorizing the southland with his mother fishing team events along with pro-am draws, bought all he could find. In typical Martens fashion, he’d cut the original hook off at the start of the bend and tie another hook on the remaining shaft to give the head a better bite. But eventually he was about to run out.

I talked with Martens around the 2007 timeframe while doing coverage for BassFan and he was all excited about reintroducing the bait to the masses. It was more by necessity than anything else – he needed heads for his own use and why not make them available to everyone else.

Martens made some clear improvements to the head when he brought them back to life. For one, he placed a good hook on it. Second, and this is something only he had probably thought of, he added a variety of bill options for each size head.

I remember him telling me about how he would fashion his own bills of different sizes to fit the original heads to give him the action he and the fish wanted. Again, that conversation was typical Martens – a mad scientist at his finest.

Outside of the west no one knew what a Scrounger was until 2007. I would wager now that nearly every serious bass angler has them in their box. And it all started with a little company near San Diego named North American Waters.

  • Tom Leogrande

    Great read Terry!

    Aaron’s version is called the Shaky Fish and is made by Davis Bait Company – it is available at online tackle shops and local tackle shops everywhere. The version now known as the Scrounger is another story and not supported by Martens.

  • Tom,
    Yep, that’s right. But, I remember talkign to Aaron way back and when he first brought it back he called it the Scrounger (I believe in a joint thing with Sworming Hornet). Is that right?