Bass fishermen in the know have hailed a 26-year-old Fort Smith, Ark., bass angler as a hero for his recent work with artificial lures.
Dustin Elder helps them put bass in the boat whenever they throw Cotton Cordell’s tail-weighted Boy Howdy, a discontinued topwater that was dusted off at his urging, redesigned and reintroduced last year by PRADCO Outdoor Brands.
Elder, who began his association with PRADCO while he was in college, made it his business to get the ultra-popular lure from a few decades ago back on the clear waters of lakes in the region and across the U.S.
“I’ve been throwing it since I was 7 or 8 years old, nearly 20 years, since I was able to cast a spinning rod out,” Elder said.
It’s deadly when bass are schooling, slurping up baitfish, because it mimics panfish, like bream, going to the surface to pick off a snack. It’s also deadly over brush piles and other structures for the same reason because it “looks like bream popping,” according to Elder.
“The biggest tip is just to try it. It gets bit because it has action no other topwater bait has. It’s really neat,” he said. “Typically, when they hit the bait, they just about choke on it.”
Elder said the Boy Howdy floats vertically, practically straight up and down in the water, when it’s motionless.
The best situations for a Boy Howdy bite are when fish are suspended, perhaps around a point or a big flat. Cast and find a cadence that triggers bites, he advised.
Elder has plenty of opportunity to tie on the Boy Howdy and give it a workout on his favorite bodies of water in and around Arkansas.
“I’m fishing all the time. I spend about every bit of free time bass fishing, crappie fishing guiding. I just love to fish,” said Elder, who earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations at the University of Arkansas in 2017, where he was on the bass-fishing team. While he was studying, he had his sights set joining PRADCO, where his father, Chris Elder, was a pro staff member and knew Bruce Stanton, now vice president/general manager. The younger Elder talked to Stanton and shared his plans.
Elder began his career with PRADCO in January 2018 after starting as an intern in May 2016. He has been PRADCO’s promotional staff manager since April.
Elder’s knowledge and affinity for the Boy Howdy paved the way for its reintroduction in 2020.
“This tail-weighted model was around in the 1990s. It was a closely guarded secret for schooling fish. People were hoarding them,” he said. “It was popular in clear-water lakes in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas. Lake Ouachita, where I grew up, is where it is probably known as the best (topwater).”
The Boy Howdy was discontinued, and hundreds of bass anglers were upset. Elder listened to them.
“I heard from enough people, ‘You’ve got to bring it back!’ Finally, we did,” he said. “I mentioned it since I was pretty much an intern, as I grew into the company. I said, ‘I want to bring back the tail-weighted Boy Howdy,’ and they allowed me to.”
That was during the summer of 2019.
“The design was done exactly as the same ones that my grandpa used. It’s actually a really simple, weighted topwater,” Elder said, whose father made a video demonstrating how to work it in September 2020. View it at https://youtu.be/sP_thFWEzOs.
PRADCO re-introduced the bait at ICAST 2020. Of course, due to COVID-19, the splash was muted compared to normal times.
The reintroduced Boy Howdy is 4½ inches long, weighs 3/8-ounce and is armed with No. 4, short-shanked treble hooks.
Elder said Cotton Cordell increased the available colors on the Boy Howdy from the original four to 10. So far, the favorites are clear/blue nose, black/gold, chrome/blue and chrome/black.
Boy Howdys hit the market, to the joy of many, in the fall of 2020.
“Sales have been very good,” he said. “There were a lot of people lined up who wanted to buy several of them. It was very well received, especially around the Diamond Lakes around central Arkansas — Hot Springs and the Little Rock area.”
At Trader Bill’s Outdoor Sports in Hot Springs, he talked to “a lot of people.”
“I’ll see them at the store, and they say, ‘My grandpa caught so many fish on it.’ I’ve heard a lot of reviews like that,” Elder said.
For more information on the PRADCO Outdoor Brand products, including Cotton Cordell, go to pradcooutdoorbrands.com.
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