The Giant Jitterbug is real. I read about a guy in North-Central Florida, who made wooden copies of Arbogast's Jitterbug for his own use, and was catching a lot more fish with them than he did with the plastic ones. The article said that he painted them black, took the hardware off a store bought plastic lure and tuned them up with pliers. There was a lot more to it than that, but I took the inspiration for the Giant Jitterbug from that article.
How hard could it be? It just so happened that my Wife was going out of town for two weeks, and this gave me the perfect opportunity to make my own Jitterbugs while she was gone. Hey, no woman watching? I could whittle in the living room!
First thing I had to do, was obtain some hardware from a Jitterbug, and figure out the exact shape. No problem. Off to the tackle shop to get a new Jitterbug. When I got there, I spotted a great big ol' MUSKIE Jitterbug on the rack, and decided that was the size I needed for BIG BASS!
Next thing, I needed some wood to carve my new lure with. I considered Balsa and other conventional woods, but remembered that I read somewhere that red cedar made pretty good lures.
Since I lived in the sticks anyhow, I just figured to go out in the woods and cut me a nice piece of red cedar. I took my hand saw and went for a walk. But, there was no red cedar to be found anywhere around. On the way back to the house I spotted my landlord's barbed wire fence. Hey! Red cedar fence posts! Who would ever mind me taking a few inches off the top of a post way back in the woods?
So then began the rough carving of the Jitterbug. Did I mention the band-aids? You can buy them by the gross and if you have kids there will never be one in the house if you really need one. Oh well, Duct tape and gauze pads work too.
Carving took 3 days. Red cedar chips are in that carpet to this day, I bet.
The Jitterbug I made was properly proportioned, but was about 2 inches longer than a Muskie Jitterbug, and a bit bigger in diameter. In short, it was a Giant! I took it to work at the car dealership where I was working and sanded it during lunch hours until I was happy with it.
Then I enlisted the help of the painter in the body shop to prime it about 5 coats, and paint it with GM's best black lacquer about 5 times. He probably charged it to GM as "Warranty Work." The eyes were painted on by hand. They looked a little like John Belushi.
The hardware was mounted carefully, by drilling tiny holes for pilots and inserting the original lip and treble hooks. The Giant Jitterbug was ready for a test.
The next step was to set up a rod and reel combo that could handle this monster lure. My choice was a Fenwick 8 foot heavy action Flippin' Stick, an Ambassadeur surf casting reel, and best of all, a spool of black 50 lb. test braided dacron line. I didn't intend to take any chances on losing the Giant Jitterbug. The first thing I found out was that only certain knots would work with that line. The second thing was that I could cast the Giant Jitterbug about 300 feet! The third thing was that while Jitterbugs make a bubble-bubble sound, the Giant Jitterbug made a BLOP-BLOP-BLOP sound. I mean LOUD! It was very deep, and even on slow retrieves made a blub-blub-blub sound that could be heard a long way off. The action was perfect. It sorta' looked like a .... Giant Jitterbug.
My fishing partner at the time thought I had lost my mind. He laughed his butt off.
We went fishing the next time at night in a 300 acre swamp which was locally known for real big bass. The lake was very clear, but was filled with standing timber, stumps, big lotus pads, duckweed, milfoil, and acres of grass. Not many people would dream of fishing in this snake enfested, pitch dark place but us and a couple of other crazy people. Since I had been fishing that lake for years, I knew where almost every single stump was. At one time or another, I had hit all 10,000 of them. Other than me, I am convinced that nobody alive could run an outboard through there for more than twenty feet with out hitting a stump. Fishermen tried, and motors died. (Never mind that I could not remember my kid's birthdays or my wedding anniversary, but I remembered those stumps)
We fished around with 10 inch worms for several hours, and caught a couple of little bass. About the time Johnny Carson would have been doing his monologue, I broke out the Giant Jitterbug. I quickly found that I need have little fear of snags in the pads, since I could just jerk it out of there. 50 lb line takes the worry out of that.
I tossed that big lure for about 3 hours, covering a lot of water. No action. My partner was starting to lie back and snooze a little, and was just laughing about the Giant Jitterbug. He said " BLOP-BLOP-BLOP" when suddenly we both heard a huge "KERBLOOSH!!" as a bass jumped all over the Giant Jitterbug.
With the massive treble hooks set deep, and the braided line holding tight, I just cranked in a nearly 8 lb bass. My partner was now wide awake, and no longer laughing. Between then and daylight I caught 2 more bass over 6 lbs.
The Giant Jitterbug outlasted the Ambassadeur reel, 2 rods, 2 boats and hundreds of other lures. I still have it in my tackle box. The red cedar is showing through the GM black in a few places. There's no paint at all left on the lip. It only comes out at night on clear lakes in the summer when I am feeling like casting all night long. I learned a lot fishing with it, especially the next year when I took the Giant Jitterbug to BIG BASS COUNTRY!
Oh, and the fence post? My landlord asked me "Who in the Hell cut the top off of my fence post??" I lied.