By Danno Wise

Lures designed before about 1960 can look a bit odd. Of course, imagine what an angler in the 1950s would think about a castable umbrella rig or a modern crankbait. Probably that they look a bit odd. The Heddon Bayou Boogie was introduced more than 50 years ago and looks a bit odd no matter what era you’re living in.

Despite its irregular looks, the Bayou Boogie is an effective baitfish imitation that I use to catch an amazing variety of fresh and saltwater species. It is a tremendously versatile little bait, thanks largely to that unique shape, which allows it to effectively imitate any deep-bodied preyfish.
The bait’s roughly triangular shape also allows it to cast remarkably well despite its relatively small size and light weight (2 inches, 1/3 ounce). I cast in on both spinning and casting reels, even in the wind we often experience on our Texas coastal bays.

The Bayou Boogie is a countdown bait, meaning anglers can effectively approximate the depth at which the bait is retrieved by counting as it descends once it hits the water. Simply counting to the appropriate depth and steadily reeling the bait back can produce good results – especially when fishing over or alongside structure. But, the Bayou Boogie can also be worked vertically like a jigging spoon when working over deep structure. I also like to burn it over shallow grass flats, then pause and allow it to drop into the deeper sand pockets found on the flats. This can often trigger incredible strikes from jumbo speckled trout waiting to ambush baitfish that meander into these bare bottom areas.

While the Bayou Boogies can produce year around, I have found it especially effective in late spring and early summer because it’s about the same size and shape as many of the recently hatched baitfish in lakes and bays.

But regardless of season, I always have one in my box and don’t hesitate to use it whenever fish are feeding on baitfish in the 1 ½ to 3-inch size range. To that end, it has proven to be one of the most effective baits I have ever thrown when fishing for speckled trout at night under the lights. I have had very good results casting a Bayou Boogie beyond the orb of water illuminated by the lights and retrieving it along the fringes of the lit area.
But, back to the basic cast, count and reel retrieve. I find myself throwing a Bayou Boogie just about any time I am casting parallel to long structure. This includes bulkheads and jetties in saltwater, grass beds and boat docks in freshwater, and channel edges wherever they are found. The tight wobble and vibration emitted by the Bayou Boogie tempts virtually any fish hiding in or along this type of structure. By employing the bait in this type of situation, I’ve caught black bass, white bass, crappie, speckled trout, snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel.

The other great thing about this type of retrieve is anyone can master it in a mater of seconds. This allows anglers of all experience levels to catch fish with very little practice. Really and truly, the Bayou Boogie is a fun bait to fish. Because of its somewhat diminutive stature, just about anything feeding on small, deep-bodied baitfish will hit it. This makes it especially exciting to use when a variety of species is found along a singular piece of structure such as a saltwater jetty. In a situation like this, you can catch a different species every cast.