Arkie Lures for Midwest Finesse

Back in June of 2012, we published a column entitled the "Legends of the Heartland," and one of the legends that it featured was Bob Carnes of Arkie Lures, Inc. in Springdale, Arkansas. This column primarily featured Carnes' celebrated Arkie Jig, which he developed in the late 1960s and began manufacturing in the early 1970s. The legends' column, however, failed to examine Arkie's contributions to Midwest finesse angling — especially for those anglers who spend a lot of days plying Ozark rivers and streams. Therefore, this column will examine some of the finesse baits that Carnes and his crew have created recently and across the years.

On Feb. 6, we talked with Mitch Glenn of Arkie Lures, Inc., and he said the one finesse-style bait that has attracted the most attention in the black-bass fishing world is the Crappie Crankbaits.

According to Glenn, this two-inch hard-body bait, which is adorned with a clear-plastic bill, was initially designed to be a trolling bait for crappie anglers, but straightway some Arkansas walleye anglers who ply Greers Ferry Lake and Bull Shoals Lake have become infatuated with it. What's more, some largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass anglers have become smitten by it. In fact, even some bass tournament anglers are wielding it — especially at those tournaments at reservoirs that have major slot limits, such as the one at Lake Fork, Texas, where anglers can't keep a largemouth bass that measures 16 to 24 inches in length, and they can keep only one largemouth bass that is longer than 24 inches. Therefore to allure these 15-inch or shorter bass, some of these tournament anglers at Lake Fork have discovered that Arkie's Crappie Crankbaits do a dandy job of inveigling those smaller bass during the late winter and early spring when scores of them are abiding in two to five feet of water. These bass anglers employ the Crappie Cranks on spinning tackle that is spooled with six-pound-test line, which allows them to crank it into depths of about four feet of water.

It is available in 10 colors: Black-Gold, Black-Shiner, Blue-Shiner, Bluegill, Chart-Craw, Crawdad, Firetiger, Red Craw, Sexee Shad, and Splattershad. Anglers can purchase it for $2.57.

In addition to creating the Crappie Crankbaits in 2013, Arkie Lures also developed the Crappie Minnows, Crappie Craw Cranks, Crappie Poppers, and Crappie Lipless Cranks. Glenn says these five diminutive baits have found a significant place in the presentation styles of anglers who probe the many rivers and streams that stipple the Ozark region, as well as finesse anglers who ply ponds, strip pits, and other small waterways across the nation.

The Crappie Minnow is a 1 ¾-inch hard-plastic jerkbait, which is available in two hues: Black-Shiner and Sexee Shad. The Crappie Craw Cranks -- including its clear-plastic bill -- is two inches long, and they are available in three colors: Firetiger, Puddle Craw and Red-Brown. The Crappie Poppers is 1 ¾ inches long and they are available in the Black-Shiner and Blue-Shiner hues. The Crappie Lipless Cranks is only 1 ½ inches long, and they are made in two colors: Chrome-Black and Chrome-Blue Back.

During the past decade, many Midwest finesse anglers have stopped using hard-body baits. Instead they dress 1/32-, 1/16-, and 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jigs with small soft-plastic baits, such as Arkie's Salty BC Craw, Salty Crawlin' Fry and Salty Crawlin' Grub, which Arkie began producing about 20 years ago, and these three baits have become a staple in many finesse anglers repertoire.

The Salty BC Craw is a two-inch soft-plastic crayfish, which Midwest finesse anglers can affix to either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The 1/32-ounce jig sports a No. 6 hook, and the 1/16-ouncer has a No. 4 hook. The Salty B.C. Craw is impregnated with salt and manufactured in six colors: Black-Blue Flake, Brown-Orange Laminate, Butterscotch, Green Pumpkin, Smoke-Red Flake, and Watermelon. A package of 10 sells for $1.85.

The Salty Crawlin' Fry is 4 ¼-inches long. From the tip of its head to the tip of its tail, the sides of its slim torso are endowed with 15 appendages, and this unique feature enhances the movement of this bait when it is attached to a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Midwest finesse anglers have a penchant for customizing soft-plastic baits, and it is likely that some of them will sever a half inch or more off of its head before they worm it onto their jigs. It can also be rigged on a jig wacky style. It is salt impregnated and made in 11 colors: Brown/Chartreuse Laminate, Chartreuse Pepper, Cinnamon, Cucumber, Green Pumpkin, Smoke-Blue, Sour Grape, Tequila Sunrise, Watermelon-Black Flake, Watermelon-Blue, and Watermelon-Red Flake. A package of 10 retails for $4.25.

The head of the four-inch Salty Crawlin' Grub is graced with a hula-style skirt. Each side of its chunky torso is adorned with seven lively appendages. Its tail consists of two grub tails. Traditionally, it is considered to be a power angler's tool, but Midwest finesse anglers use it, and when they wield it, they usually affix it to a 1/16- or 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig. Midwest finesse anglers also customize it by trimming off the tail, and rigging it on a mushroom-style jig as a stick- or Senko-style bait with a skirted head and a torso with 14 appendages. They also rig it on the mushroom-style jig so that the skirt becomes a tail similar to a tube, and when they do this reverse rigging, they shorten the torso section a bit, and they also remove some of the skirt's tentacles. What's more, when the two grub tails are removed, Midwest Finesse anglers can affix a screw-in eyelet, a No.2-size crane swivel, a No.2 split ring, and a No. 1 Colorado spinner blade to the tail of the Salty Crawlin's Grub, and this adds a different dimension to this classic soft-plastic bait. It is available in 13 colors: Black-Blue Laminate, Black-Brown Laminate, Brown-Chartreuse Laminated, Chartreuse Pepper, Green Pumpkin, Pumpkinseed, Red Shad Laminate, Rootbeer-Green Flake, Smoke-Blue Flake, Sm0ke-Purple Flake, Watermelon-Black & Red Flake, Watermelon-Black Flake, and Watermelon-Purple Flake. A package of 10 can be purchased for $4.99.

Arkie Lures' Panfish Creature might catch the fancy of some Midwest finesse anglers who are in search of a beaver-style bait in the extreme finesse category to rig on either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. It is about 1 ½ inches long. Its flat head and torso is surrounded by 15 ribs or rings. At both sides of the junction of its torso and double-flapping tails, there is a long appendage, which extends out and beyond the Panfish Creature's two tails. It is available in six colors: Black-Chartreuse, Blue-Pearl, Gray-Pearl, Green-Pumpkin, Pumpkin Seed, and Red-Chartreuse. A package of eight sells for $1.67.  According to Glenn, a two-inch rendition of the Panfish Creature is in the offing.


(1) For more information about Bob Carnes and the history of Arkie Lures, please see the legends' story at this link: 

(2) One of the long-time virtues of the baits that Arkie Lures manufactures is that they are well-made but they are relatively inexpensive, and this appeals to the frugal-minded nature of many anglers who are confounded nowadays by exorbitant prices -- such as paying from seven to nearly 30 dollars for hard-plastic baits and more than three dollars a gallon for gasoline, which can make a day of fishing an expensive ordeal. 

(3) Most Midwest finesse anglers prefer to rig small soft-plastic baits, such as Arkie Lures' Salty BC Craw, Salty Crawlin' Fry, Salty Crawlin' Grub and Pan Panfish Creature, on small mushroom-style jigs that are devoid of a hook or weed guard. What's more, they never rig their soft-plastic baits Texas-style on their jigs; therefore the jig hooks are always exposed, and the hooks on their mushroom-style jigs range in size from as small as a No. 6 to as large as a No. 2. One reason why Midwest finesse anglers work with small exposed hooks is that they don't become snagged as readily as big hooks do. What's more, small hooks cause less damage to the scores of bass that Midwest finesse anglers catch; thus when a pair of Midwest finesse anglers tangle with an average of 11 largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass an hour, there is a possibility that these anglers could injure -- perhaps mortally injure -- a goodly number of bass throughout a year. Glenn suggests that Midwest finesse anglers should give Arkie's Red Hook Ball Head jigs a whirl. A package of 10 unpainted 1/32-ounce jigs with a No. 6 hook and a pack of 10 unpainted 1/16-ounce jigs with a No. 6 hook can be purchased for $2.02. 

(4) Until Feb. 6 Glenn had not cross paths with the tactics that Midwest finesse anglers employ. He and the anglers that he deals with are conventional finesse anglers, which is a method that Midwest finesses anglers call power finesse. In the power-finesse vein, Glenn said that Arkie's soft-plastic baits were designed to be used on several styles of jigs that they make, such as the Arkie Grub Head, EZ-Rig Head, Arkie Tube and Grub Head, Arkie Stand Up Head, Arkie U-Bolt Head, and Arkie Jerky Head. These jigs are built around big hooks: the Grub Head has a 1/0 hook, EZ-Rig Head has a 4/0 hook, Tube and Grub Head has a 3/0 hook, Weedless Stand Up Head has either a 3/0 or 4/0, U-Bolt Head has a 4/0 hook, and Jerky Head has 4/0 hook. 

From Glenn's perspective as a power finesse angler, the Salty BC Craw works best on a 1/8-ounce Arkie Grub Head. 

As for the Salty Crawlin' Fry, Glenn says the traditional ways to rig it is on a split-shot rig, Carolina rig, wacky rig, and on the Arkie Grub Head, Arkie EZ-Rig Head, and Arkie Tube and Grub Head. Glenn notes that some anglers who fish the streams and rivers in the Ozarks cut the Salty Crawlin' Fry in half and employ it as a creature bait. Glenn says it also works well when anglers rig it wacky style, and the wacky rig is especially effective during the spawning period.

Glenn says the majority of the anglers that he deals with who wield the Salty Crawlin' Grub affix it to a Carolina rig, Texas-style-slip-sinker rig, Arkie Weedless Stand Up Head, or Arkie Football U-Bolt Jig Head. It is also used as a trailer on a skirted football jig, such as the Arkie Football Jig.

(5) For more information about the lures that Arkie Lures, Inc. manufactures and sells, please examine its website at

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