The Arbogast Bug Eye

photo: Old Fishing Tackle Shop, Japan

photo: Old Fishing Tackle Shop, Japan

The Fred Arbogast Company has created some of the most popular, as well as collectable, fishing lures ever made. Think of baits such as the Jitterbug or the Mudbug. Going back even further, you have the Hawaiian Wiggler and such. However, this piece isn’t about any of those more “famous” lures, but instead is about a less familiar bait called the Bug Eye.

I’m actually hoping some of our readers might be able to chime in on this one and give us a good story or two about the bait. You see, the Bug Eye was a 3/8-oz. molded (plastic) mid-depth diving crankbait with bulging eyes, hence the name. Bait length ran about 2.5 inches. It never won any big national tourneys that I’m aware of, but it did have a spot in my earliest bass fishing tackle box. I have to admit that I bought it more for looks than anything, and honestly can’t even remember catching a bass on one. But it was a pretty neat bait none the less. It featured a clear plastic diving bill molded right into the body, but that bill took a sharp downturn, something fairly unique at the time of its introduction in the late 1970s.

photo: Old Fishing Tackle Shop, Japan

photo: Old Fishing Tackle Shop, Japan

Another unique feature was the attached skirt to the rear of the bait. This was a sparse flat rubber spinnerbait skirt that was attached to a small metal “peg” that was affixed to the rear eye of the bait, along with the treble hook. You could replace the skirt or even change to a colored skirt of your choice by simply removing the existing one and sliding the new one over the metal peg. The bait also featured a rattle inside, and I seem to remember it as more of a single knocker type, though I can’t swear to that. It came in all the usual “old school” colors such as the various “coach dog” patterns, along with some other more novel patterns at the time like “green frog” and “rainbow trout.”

Beyond that, about the only other thing I remember is that this crankbait was discontinued around 1985, or about a dozen years before PRADCO brands acquired the company. These can still be picked up on eBay from time to time, but you don’t find them regularly. So does anybody else remember this neat little crankbait?

  • I had one. The rubber skirt dried up over the winter after using it only once or twice the previous year. I don’t remember the peg being metal. I thought it was part of the plastic body. Maybe I’m confused. I tied some bucktail or feather or something onto it after the skirt died its horrible death. The lure as I recall had a very wide wobble — more of a searching action than a wobble — and the only thing I ever caught on it was a rainbow trout. A small rainbow trout.

    • Al H.

      In the late 70’s, my fishing buddy and I would fish a local water supply reservoir every week. On many of those trips we would see an older guy fishing alone in his 12′ johnboat and we would say hello and he would show off his stringer. One summer he was getting many big fish on a new bait he called a Popeye. We looked all over for the bait and got blank stares at every tackle shop. Next time we saw the old guy we asked where he got the bait, we couldn’t find it anywhere. That’s when he said it’s real name was Bug Eye, and you can get them everywhere. Well we certainly tried them without much success; off course back then we didn’t have much success no matter what we threw.