People probably have a few of these in their tackle boxes. My dad had several that turned to a gooey mess over 20 years of rubber skirts melting in the trays of his expanding two-tower tray tackle box. The fact is the Arbogast Hula Popper has had a long lasting impact on bass fishing lures.
It was the first widely market topwater popper hitting the market sometime in the 1930s. The chugging bait was made to imitate frogs around vegetation. The shape of the body, the frog coloration and of course the popping mouth were all innovative at that time, but it’s another part of the lure that really made the biggest influence.
Fred Arbogast is credited with developing the “hula skirt” for giving a lure a lifelike look and feel. This hula skirt lead to the development of spinnerbaits and jigs with these flaring rubber skirts for tempting fish to bite.
Today’s poppers are streamlined, finely detailed, and beautifully painted forage imitators with sharp hooks, weight transfer systems, rattles, feathers for added attraction and more. And we all have the Hula Popper to thank for the innovations and mainstream appeal of topwater chuggers, as manufactures continually seek to improve the original mouse trap.
A Hula Popper is still a very effective topwater, and I for one have made a commitment to see what damage I can do with it this spring. But it has lost its appeal to some of the sleeker new comers to the popper market. So while it was effective and widely accepted early it’s lack of popularity lowered its rank in the list.
But the mainstream appeal of hard plastic poppers and rubber skirts came from this one lure and put it in the prestigious Wired2Fish Top 10 of Most Influential Bass Fishing Lures as No. 10.
See the full list here: Wired2fish’s Top 20 Most Influential Bass Fishing Lures of All Time