Just when you thought you might, just might have seen it all as far as artificial lures designed to fool bass, well — you know what they said about just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.
Duh-dun, duh-dun, duh-dun ….
Along comes a topwater that even the artificial lure’s manufacturer described as having what looks like the nose of an anteater, which is about as ugly as you can get, on one end — the end that holds a small blade that qualifies the floating hard-plastic as a buzz bait.
That it is made by Arbogast Lures, one of the most respected names in artificial lure manufacturing business since the 1930s, lends credit to the notion that there is a method to the unusual appearance of the Arbogast Buzz Plug.
For decades, Arbogast Lures produced popular but unusually designed topwaters such as the Jitterbug (born in 1938) and the Hula Popper (born in 1941) that became mainstays in tackle boxes across the United States.
The Hula Dancer, Hawaiian Wiggler, Sputterfuss, Sputterbug, Arbo-Gaster, Mud Bug and other artificial lures followed for the company founded by Fred Arbogast, who died in 1947.
The Buzz Plug is the latest to raise eyebrows and catch bass.
Veteran Pradco Outdoor Brands public relations manager Lawrence Taylor was pretty candid about the lure’s look.
"It’s one of those lures you look at and say, ‘Unnhhhh, I don’t know,’" Taylor said. "It’s interesting. You’ve got to get over a little barrier when you first see it.
"But it’s already proven."
Its maker agreed wholeheartedly about its appearance and its effectiveness. None other than one of the legends of bass fishing claims responsibility for the Buzz Plug, which also has emerged as a red-hot topwater for redfish along the coast.
"Well, it’s — when you first look at it — it looks like a God-awful sight," Billy Murray of Hot Springs, Ark., said about his ugly duckling.
The ¾-ounce original model that has been on the market and smacking bass in the mouth since early March is about to share center stage with a 3/8-ounce model that will be introduced at the ICAST show July 10-12 in Las Vegas.
"Until you have a chance to throw it, you won’t understand the functions of it," said the 1986 inductee into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.
What’s the lure’s appeal? The Arbogast’s Buzz Plug’s design allows an angler to pause it enticingly over underwater structure to trigger a bite. And when retrieved across the surface, it has a seductive wobble and sputtering action.
"It creates a tremendous amount of disturbance on the water," Murray said about the artificial lure that some have said has the body of a "slightly flattened crankbait" to go along with that elongated snout. "It’s heavy, so it has a big imprint on the water.
"The blade does not sit in the water (at a standstill). Its got enough weight on the (rear) end that lifts the blade out of the water."
Murray said "anything that will hit something on top (Northern pike, muskie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, redfish) will hit it."
Murray, 67, doesn’t have to convince FLW pro David Dudley about the effectiveness of the Buzz Plug. Dudley, who has won more than $3 million on the circuit and three times finished as Angler of the Year, was videoing fishing tips on a private lake in Tennessee when he tied on an Arbogast Buzz Plug for the first time ever in mid-April.
"I had strikes on the first seven casts," Dudley told Lurenet.com. "Then the big one hit."
"The big one" was an 11-pound, 4-ounce bass — the biggest of his bass fishing career. The Buzz Plug has since joined his pro bass tournament arsenal because of its action and sound.
"It’s like a boat plowing through at half-throttle. A Jitterbug or buzz bait creates surface disruption, but this is a wake disruption. It’s like a little waddling duck going through the water," Dudley said, noting it gives anglers an advantage because they can slow it down or stop it entirely after a hit and miss.
Ah, that’s the key, Taylor and Murray agreed. The latter said he had prototypes developed in the mid-1980s — with balsa wood bodies rather than hard plastic — and has been waiting until the time was right to release the innovative topwater.
Its prowess in putting redfish in the boat quickly became apparent this past spring, he said. With its weight, anglers can cast it far and, Murray said, it really riles up the redfish.
"Oh, man, it’s the best redfish lure in the world," he said. "You can really throw it long-distance. That’s been a problem with a buzz bait (getting distance with the wind-resistant blades). You can reach out and touch them with (the Buzz Plug)."
The Buzz Plugs are armed with a double hook setup in the rear. The barbs are positioned so they are pointing up, which helps allow it to come over grass, lily pads, etc., he said.
There are six color combinations to date: black, frog, perch, coach dog, rat and fire tiger.
"We’re proud of it," Murray said. "It’s caught tons of fish on it."
He added that the smaller version smoked the smallmouth bass last year on opening day in Ontario, Canada. The 3/8-ounce model, which has a single upturned hook, also should be ultra-effective in ponds and other waterbodies with underwater vegetation, he said.
He also fully expects the smaller version to do very well on rainbow trout in the fertile rivers of Alaska.
For more information on the Arbogast Buzz Plug and other Pradco Outdoor Brands (Yum, Boo-yah, Bomber, Heddon, Lazy Ike, Cotton Cordell, XCalibur, Creek Chub, Silverthread and Rebel) artificial lures, call 479-782-8971.