Loy Milam has been fishing Dale Hollow much of his life. He grew up near the legendary reservoir and when he retired from his job as an editor at the Glasgow Daily Times. He began guiding on the lake not long after retirement.
People that have never visited the lake or the towns surrounding it may not be aware of that history and the cult-like following that famous smallmouth anglers from the area have.
Having grown up in Tompkinsville, KY near the lake that sits on the Kentucky/Tennessee border, Milam was aware of the history of the reservoir and its most well-known angler, the late Billy Westmoreland. I spoke to Milam by phone and he informed me of a well-known lure that Westmoreland helped make famous.
The Hubs Chub Rattalur is a unique topwater bait that was out of existence and is now being brought back to life. Rather than try and tell you about it, I am posting and e-mail sent to me which is actually an article in itself. Here, in Loy Milam’s own words is the e-mail I received.
By LOY MILAM
Some names are naturally associated with various sports because of the legendary accomplishments of the people who participated in them. Michael Jordan and basketball, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and NASCAR, and Billy Westmoreland and Dale Hollow smallmouth are prime examples. Billy Westmoreland put Celina, TN and Dale Hollow Lake on the map and created a place in the hearts of many anglers for smallmouth bass. Billy touched so many lives through his television series “Fishing Diary” where he highlighted numerous bass fishing techniques. Celina, Tennessee has honored his memory by painting a portrait of Billy on a brick building just off the square. It is a fitting tribute to the man that some called The Godfather of Smallmouth Bass.
One of those lives that Billy touched was Steve Monoyoudis of White Oak, PA. A young Monoyoudis was impressed by four shows that Billy taped using the Hubs Chub Rattalur topwater lure. “I had never caught a big bass in my life,” said Monoyoudis. “I saw Billy fishing this lure and catching big smallmouth and I had to have one or two in my tackle box. I ordered a couple of lures and couldn’t wait until they arrived. True to my expectations, the first time I fished the lure I landed the biggest smallmouth I had ever caught… I was hooked.”
Monoyoudis wasn’t the only angler hooked on the Rattalur. According to Old Fishing Lures & Tackle: Identification and Value Guide by Carl F. Luckey and Russell E. Lewis, the originator of the Rattalur was a man named Lewis Dinkins of St. Augustine, FL who began making the lure by hand out of wood in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s. By the late 1940s demand for the lure was so high, that Dinkins began making them out plastic using a mold. Dinkins owned the rights to the Rattalur until 1957, when he sold the rights to Warren D. “Hub” Hubbard Jr. of Hubbard Lures. Hubbard in 1958 partnered with Bruce Bebee who owned a machine shop in Indianapolis, IN and Everett O. James of Arcadia, IN and the Rattlaur was produced under the Hubs Chub name. Hubs Chub produced two sizes of the Rattalur (3 inch and 4 inch), the Hubs-Chub (a broken-tail crankbait named after “Hub” Hubbard), and the Spin Diver. According to records obtained from Marion County, Indiana recorder’s office, Hubbard sold his part of the company to Bebee early in 1959, and Bebee sold out to James November 17, 1959 (Number 3956, Vol. 5, page 589). James continued to produce the Hubs Chub lures until his death in 1980. James’ wife ran the company throughout 1981 and sold it to Swartz Tackle of Noblesville, IN in 1982. Swartz sold the company to Irana Cotterman of Fortville in 1983 and Cotterman continued to produce the Hubs Chub lures until March, 1985, when he sold the company to Phil Yeater of Sheridan, IN.
“I bought the Hubs Chub lure company in March of 1985,” says Yeater. “I worked the St. Louis Fishing Show in August of that year and the Indiana Fishing Show in February, 1986, where I shared a booth with a company called Galyans who produced the Bass Magnet.” Yeater was successful in getting the Rattalur in the Bass Pro catalog in 1987 in six colors and two sizes where sales of the lure jumped to 30,000 to 50,000 per year over the next three years.
Billy Westmoreland was introduced to the lure while filming one of his Fishing Diary television shows on a lake in New Hampshire where he was smallmouth fishing with Tom Rogers, editor and publisher of Smallmouth Magazine of Edgefield, SC. “My favorite topwater lure wasn’t working that day,” said Rogers, “so I tied on a Rattalur. The first time I cast it I caught a 5-pound smallmouth. I never put it down after that.” Westmoreland was fishing a grub and having no luck. After watching Rogers land fish after fish, Billy tied on a Rattalur and immediately began catching smallmouth.”
“That experience convinced Billy Westmoreland of the fish-catching ability of the Hubs Chub Rattalur,” said Yeater. “I was able to get his endorsement of the lure and repackaged the Rattalur with Billy’s picture on the package.” Billy went on to do three more Fishing Diary shows using the Rattalur. One of the most successful shows using the Rattalur was filmed in Mulberry, Florida fishing the phosphate-pit lakes. “Oh, I remember that show well,” says Kenny Westmoreland, Billy’s nephew who was in the camera boat. “We had tough luck that week with the tow vehicle and we were down to our last day of fishing and Billy was very concerned we might not get a good topwater shoot. We hit the lake very early in the morning that last day which was on Friday, December 30, 1988. Billy got the boat in the water and was doing his intro as he made his first cast, and then WHAM! a 10-pound bass nailed the Rattalur.” The episode shows a startled Billy Westmoreland at the quick action, who commented, “I caught that fish before I really meant too.” Many more fish were caught during the filming of that episode, and many more once the cameras stopped. “We caught a lot of fish that day,” said Kenny Westmoreland. “I know Phil (Yeater) was very pleased with that show and it turned out to be one of the best shoots we had. When we stopped filming, we all got in on the action and actually caught some more 10-pound-plus bass.” Thinking back and commenting on the Mulberry, Florida show, Yeater says, “Yeah, I was very excited over that show. Billy caught a number of huge bass that day on the Rattalur. It was very special.”
But success can be both a blessing and a curse. In addition to making the Hubs Chub fishing lures, Yeater’s company also manufactured four different sizes of live bait cages for crickets and minnows. In 1989, Yeater agreed to supply Wal Mart with the bait cages and received an $80,000 order in October of that year. “The bait cages became the more lucrative side of the business and we were so overwhelmed with producing the live bait cages that the lures took a backseat,” says Yeater. This is where Steve Monoyoudis enters the picture.
“After several years, I finally lost all of my Rattalurs and couldn’t find them anywhere,” says Monoyoudis. “I did a little research and finally located Phil Yeater and gave him a call in 2007. In a knee-jerk reaction, I offered to buy the company from Phil in an effort to save the Rattalur from going into extinction. We agree on a price and the Rattalur was back on the market.” Monoyoudis has been faithfully producing the original Rattalur through H.C. Baits in White Oak, PA since that time. “I just want to give other young anglers the opportunity to experience the excitement of fishing this amazing topwater lure.” says Monoyoudis.
In March, 2012, Monoyoudis contacted Jane Westmoreland (Billy’s widow) in Celina, Tennessee and worked out a deal to have Billy’s picture put back on the package of the Hubs Chub Rattalur. “I think it’s great,” says Kenny Westmoreland. “Uncle Billy was very excited about this lure and I think he would be proud to have his picture and endorsement back on the package. It will help keep his memory alive.”
The original Hubs Chub Rattalur is produced in two sizes (3 inch and 4 inch) in 12 colors and can be purchased through H.C. Baits in White Oak, PA. Visit their web site at: http://www.hcbaits.com/