I have always been fascinated by Louis John Rhead, the children's book illustrator-turned-fishing scribe. In particular, I recall about 15 years ago a wonderful article in the NFLCC Magazine about Rhead and his production lures, which he made and sold as '"Art Nature Lures" through William Mills in New York and from his home in Brooklyn. The article mentioned that he only made a few true casting plugs (the vast majority of his other baits being fly rod lures) and that there was only one wooden lure he ever made: the Waga-Waga. The author noted he had never seen one before.
This stuck in the back of my mind. Recently on an unrelated search I ran across an exciting tackle ad--pictured below.
Run in Forest & Stream for July 1917, it was interesting because not only did it list the Waga-Waga in two sizes (the smaller being referred to as the Waga-Pup) it also declared that the lure had a "carved wood propeller." Fascinating! This ad was the first I'd seen by Rhead aimed at the bass fishing (casting) market.
My excitement built as I saw that in that same issue, Rhead had written an article called "Bass as Gamy Fighters." Knowing Rhead from years of research, I knew he never passed up an opportunity to publicize his own lures. I turned to the second page of the article--and sure enough, there it was. The first image of Louis Rhead's only wooden fishing lure I had ever seen.
Although the picture shows the 2" Waga-Pup, we can be assured this is just a smaller version of the larger Waga-Waga.
So now that we know what Rhead's only wooden lure looks like, does anyone out there have a lure with a carved wooden tail marked as an "unknown?" You may just be holding a Louis Rhead Waga-Waga!
-- Dr. Todd