Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: Kurz Buck Skin Bait

Life-Like. Effective. Durable. Scientifically Balanced.

Wait a minute……..”Scientifically Balanced”? That sounds like a commercial for dog food! And I suppose if you removed the weighted hook, the Kurz Buck Skin Bait could be food for dogs, as these lures were made from actual rawhide. According to the box paper insert, they used “Strong, raw calf or buckskin, treated under a special formula so that it will soften in cold water to produce the effect and touch of a living fish -- that is the idea behind KURZ BUCK SKIN BAIT”

These “Scientifically Balanced” Buck Skin lures were made by Kurz Bros. Co. in Chicago, Illinois beginning in about 1916, and were produced in three sizes; No. 6 (No. 6 Hollow Point Sproat Hook – Length 1-7/8 in. Weight 1/12 oz.) Junior Buck Skin Minnow for fly rod casting – Bass, Trout, Croppies, etc., No. 40 (4/0 Hollow Point Sproat Hook – Length 3-1/2 in. Weight ¾ oz.) Buck Skin Minnow for Bass, Pike, etc., and No. 80 (8/0 O’Shaughnessy Hollow Point Hook – Length 7 in. Weight 2 oz.) Buck Skin Sucker for Muskies, Salmon, Lake Trout and Salt Water Fishing.

The lures were made from a single piece of rawhide that was artfully carved to form a life-like fish shape when folded in half from the top, and were hand painted with life-like fish colors. A single rivet formed the eyes, which held pieces of rawhide that were folded back from the bottom in place to create a natural looking face with gill plates. The single rivet not only created the eyes, but also served to help keep the hook in the correct position and to hold the lure together. A belly-shaped weight, painted red, was attached to the bottom of the hook shank that kept the lure upright and the hook in the correct position. The box paper describes it as such, “By a scientific balance arrangement, KURZ BUCK SKIN BAITS ride with a never-failing natural motion.” So that’s what they meant by “Scientifically Balanced”!

If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.

-- Elissa Ruddick

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

Theres always a bigger fish … watch this four foot shark get eaten in one bite by a Goliath Grouper.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This Manitou Minnow is pretty sweet.

A Heddon Artistic Minnow in the box is attracting a lot of interest.

Instant collection alert: River Runt Spooks.

Love these Staley-Johnsons in the box.

Russ Peak made the finest glass rods of all time.

I've never seen the Little Bo before, but it's a cool bait.

This Odon Dragonfly is a bizarre lure.

This South Bend Vacuum Bait is great.

This CCBC Wiggler in the box is incredible.

Love this Heddon Spoony Frog in the box.

Finally, in honor of Sam Van Camp's forthcoming Fred Arbogast Jitterbug Collector's Guide from The Whitefish Press … here are two rare 'bugs.

The Blue Head/White 'bug is always in demand.

This bird 'bug is also a great find in plastic.

As always, have a great weekend, and be nice to each other -- and especially yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Rare Paw Paw Piece

Every year Doug Bucha helps set up the Niles Riverfest antique tackle display, and every year he sends in amazing photos. This one may take the cake. Doug writes:  "This is the most interesting historical item to come into this years Niles Riverfest. It was brought in by the son of a man who designed and build advertising layouts for Shakespeare and others. I think you will enjoy this. Picture from: Mike Kechkaylo."

Oh. Yes. It is an incredible piece, and we appreciate you sharing it with us!

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dr. Todd Attends a Tackle Auction

For whatever reason, I never attend auctions. I'm not talking about the on-line varieties like Lang's and Crossroads, which I generally enjoy and participate in regularly. No, I am talking about the local auctions that occasionally feature fishing tackle. There's just something depressing to me about bidding on things you want, losing, and watching someone else walk away with the item in front of you. At least when I lose an item on eBay I'm not forced to watch it taken away like a spoil of war.

But when I got the flyer from a local auctioneer about the estate of Raymond Crowe, a former ORCA member, I figured I had to attend. I knew Ray in passing (I believe he was a former Coast Guard guy) but hadn't seen or heard from him since around 2007. I knew him to be a pack rat, and sure enough the flyer discussed over 500 reels, dozens of full tackle boxes, etc. Lots and lots of tackle, including 34 outstanding Kentucky and Kentucky-style reels.

I called my friend Buck on the phone and we decided to drive over together. Buck's literally an expert on auctions, and attends several a month. He's always showing me unbelievably rare items he's picked up for $10 at some auction in the middle of nowhere. I tell him every time I attend an auction, I'm sitting between Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, both of whom have decided they want the exact items I want.

I know I can't afford the Meek #4 and other rare reels, so I concentrate on trying to pick up one good reel. Today I have my sights set on a Talbot. I don't have one and would like a nice, honest, original Talbot to put in my collection. There are five Talbots in this auction so I have five chances, I figure, to be disappointed.

We head out early on Saturday morning and make the 75 mile drive to Madison, Indiana, where the local auctioneer Mike Taylor will be holding the auction at the Jefferson County 4H Fairgrounds. It's not the best labeled place I've ever been, and we blissfully drive right on by the first time before realizing that we've gone to far. We arrive about an hour and a half before the auction begins and only see about ten cars. Will this be my lucky day? Will I be returning home today like a pirate pillaging a helpless village?

I walk on to the auction floor and the first people I see are all ORCA members. In fact, there are so many ORCA members that it's like a mini show. I run into Bill Muth, who's here to check out all the Horton Bristol reels, and Carl Schaum, who I figure is looking for Indiana reels. Soon I meet and greet fellow ORCAns Randy Anderson, Jerry Schemechko, Willis Logan, Jerry Soete, Neil Kauffman, Mike Hines and Doug Carpenter, among many others. Some have come from as far away as Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

It's really refreshing to see so many friendly faces, even if it means there will be no bargains today.

I preview the auction with Buckley and see a lot of interesting reels, but only a few that I'm going to set my sights on. Believe it or not one of the reels I'm most interested in getting is a Union Hardware "Samson" take-apart reel marked Horrocks-Ibbotson. I have five different versions of the Samson and this is one that has eluded me. It's not a high value item but I'd be very happy to add it to my collection. I also see a couple other items I'd like to get.

The auction flyer did not lie. There is tackle literally everywhere – tackle boxes, fishing rods, lures, minnow buckets, etc. are overflowing from every crevasse. From a 16/0 Fin-Nor to a palate of Heddon Sonics, there is something for everyone. By the time the auction is set to begin, there are about 75 people in attendance, split pretty much 50-50 between locals and ORCA members. Ray Crowe's estate will do pretty darn well.

The auctioneer Mike Taylor precedes the auction with a commentary. He says in his forty years of auctioneering, he has never (and he emphasized never with "not once") come across a more helpful organization than ORCA. He literally heaped praise on the Old Reel Collector's Association, and it made me feel good how many members stepped up to help him and to publicize the auction on short notice (he had a very limited time to clean out the estate and get the sale ready).

The auction begins with non-tackle items and there is a palpable sense of disappointment in the air. Not for Buckley, though, as he has a series of booths at an antique mall and is very knowledgable on all kinds of antiques. He's picking up bargains left and right while the reel collectors are throwing all kinds of side eyes at the auctioneering, ready to get into the tackle.

The auctioneer makes a bold choice by starting with the rods first. There's some nice rods in hindsight I probably should have bid on, including a really rare Harnell black spun glass fly rod, but the only one I bid on is a Tracey-Wells trade spinning rod. I drop out at $20. It's too early to get crazy, even if it is a cool rod.

The first big reel to come up is the Fin-Nor 16/0 and it brings a healthy price. It's a sign that there will not be a ton of bargains today. The rods don't bring a high price, though, and a couple sell well below their actual value (the best being a really nice Browning Magnum bait casting rod which went for nearly nothing).

The reels come up in huge table fulls and it is "choice" bidding, meaning the high bidder gets to pick as many reels as they want off the table. The first bidder is in at around $90 and plucks off a couple of nice reels, and the number slowly declines as the pile of reels gets smaller. Buckley jumps in and picks up two very, very rare spinning reels in boxes at about half their value. Maybe there will be some bargains after all …

I look over the pile remaining and see the one reel I wanted still there, so I join the bidding. I drop out at 40 but the guy doesn't choose my reel. I'm back in again, but for some inexplicable reason the bidding goes up to 60. Weird. This guy also chooses another reel from the one I want. I bid again, and lo and behold, I win at 40. I quickly pluck the minty L.W. Holmes fly reel in a leather bag from the table and show the auctioneer my number. If I am patient, I could pick this reel up in this condition for $60-$70 on eBay, so I come out ahead. I'm going to fish this reel. Buckley tells me I've done good, so I'm happy.

Two or three tables full of stuff go quickly to the rabid collectors in attendance, but I refrain from bidding as although there are many nice reels, I am holding all my cash to take a run at a Talbot. Besides, I'm not a good reseller. I buy reels to resell, take them home, start to like them, and … well, that's how you get a basement full of reels.

About an hour in I am staring at a reduced pile of reels, when I see a rather amazing sight. An item I figured would have gone for $100 on choice is still on the table. I impulsively decide that although it wasn't something I marked, I'm going to try and pick it up. I get in at the bidding and there is not much interest left. I win at $25, and cackle as I take away a Heddon Spin Pal first model box. I am sure people were put off by the fact that the wrong reel was in the box, but the first generation boxes are super, super rare. I know I can pick up the proper reel for about $25, and Ben Wright has the combo going for $200+ on numerous occasions, so I know I've done well. Neil Kauffman, who has the best collection of Heddon reels this side of anywhere, says I have done very, very well.

I do the same thing again when I see an item I was sure would be gone sitting on the table. It's an Airex Spinster Deluxe kit, and I jump in impulsively and excited by the auction atmosphere, keep bidding beyond where I should have. I end up going $20 over what I wanted to, and pick up the combo. The main reason I wanted it was that it has a Sears sticker on the side of the Mark 5 Bache Brown reel, which I've never seen before. Afterward, Bob Halver the Airex expert tells me it's only the second Airex "trade" reel sticker he's seen, so although I probably overpaid for the set I did get a rare if not very desirable trade reel for my collection.

Finally, the table lot with the Samson Utica reel comes out and is quickly depleted by bidders. Not surprisingly, the Samson is still there. I don't want to pay a lot for this reel, and am afraid the auctioneer will drop the ball and auction the remainders off in one lot. But I get a lucky bid accepted at $15 – I think the only time the auctioneer dropped below $20 on choice all day – and come home with it. I am very happy.

The heavy hitters come out next. A hush comes over the place as the Meek #2 hits the auction block it comes in at $900, which is a solid place. The Crowe estate is going to do well today. I had the pleasure of having Talbot expert Randy Anderson help me to identify which Talbot reel to go after; it's #28 on the list so I have some waiting to do. A nice Talbot #3 ($1100) is followed by a B.C. Milam Frankfort #4 ($900) and Talbot Niangua ($700) and B.F. Meek & Sons #3 ($700). A Meek #3 Freespool ($675), Talbot Niangua ($350), and a B.F. Meek & Sons #25 Louisville ($450) hit the gavel before the first big surprise.

It's a Kentucky Line Dryer in a two-piece box from Shelbyville, Kentucky, and I am a bit shocked it goes for $500. A Meek & Sons #25 ($300), Horton Meek #4 ($375), B.F. Meek & Sons #4 ($350), Bluegrass Reel Works #3 ($700), and Bluegrass Reel Works #4 ($600) finish. One of the best reels in the auction, a B.F. Meek & Sons serial number #2039 ends at $700. It's a nice deal.

The belle of the ball comes up in the form of a Talbot #2 (Serial #145) tournament special. It has the tournament handle but also the original handle. It attracts a lot of interest before ending at $2300. The new owner is happy and deservedly so – it's a rare, rare reel and a great buy. I'm very happy for him.

More reels hit the gavel: Milam & Son Rustic ($150), Meek Bluegrass #33 ($125), Meek Horton #3 ($200), B.C. Milam #3 ($400), Meel Bluegrass Reel Works #3 ($300), Bluegrass Reel Works #3 ($275), Bluegrass Reel Works #3 Jeweled ($400), South Bend 1131A ($75), a B.F. Meek #5 ($900), and somewhat surprisingly, a Gayle brass fly reel for $125.

It's time. Lot #28 comes up, my German Silver Talbot Star. The bidding starts at $50 and I'm in from the beginning. By $100 it's me and one other bidder. I have silently told myself I won't go past my predetermined limit for it, and my heart begins sinking as it begins to reach that number quickly. The bidder in the back goes right to the edge of my limit. I sit and think for a second before raising the bid $10. Nervous silence … and it's mine! I ended up paying about retail for it, but unlike eBay I was able to hold this one in my hands, and have it checked out by others, too. It's all original which is important to me, and runs like a fine watch. I am super happy.

After a weird Pflueger Skilcast ($45) is sold, we come to the most interesting reel of the Crowe collection. It is a tournament casting reel that has everyone baffled. I spend a lot of time looking it over, and conclude it has the end plate of a Meek bait casting reel, but the front plate and internals are familiar but not easily placed. It's clearly been put together by a supremely talented reel maker. I figured it would bring $200 but the bidding pushes it to $650 before the lucky winner gets it. I get a chance to see it again and while kibitzing Neil Kauffman exclaims, "This is an early Jack Welch!" He's absolutely right, of course. It all falls into place. There was something very familiar about the workings of the front plate, and as Neil points out all the Heddon hallmarks it becomes clear this is a reel made by Welch after he left Meek for Heddon (and took a bunch of parts with him), which explains the Meek end plate. The lucky buyer (you make your own luck in this game, folks) has gotten the true bargain of this auction. It's just an incredible reel, and I'm super happy for him for recognizing the quality before the identification came through. Properly identified, who knows what this would have brought?

We end this auction with a Talbot Star with the wrong handle ($200), a Meek #2 ($350), two tiny Dillenders from Lexington ($60 each) and a Bourne & Bond in an unmarked box ($90). All in all not a bad day.

I get up to pay for my four items and am very happy. I got my Talbot, got a chance to spend the morning with a bunch of old friends, and got to see Ray Crowe's estate do well with his tackle. Not a bad auction after all!

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, August 18, 2014

In the News: A Museum Display of Tackle

I am always excited when any museum puts a display of vintage fishing and tackle items on display. Thus when I get a news alert like this one for the Morristown Gateway Museum of New York I am excited. Organized by museum trustee Gary R. Alford, he put the display together because he "believes that the antique fishing gear demonstrates the creativity, craftsmanship and culture of the region, with many of the lures being everyday items in a fishing tackle box 100 years ago."

To read more about it you can click here and here. Anyone who gets a chance to visit, please drop us a note!

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday at the Beach with Dr. Todd E.A. Larson: The Bobbit Worm

Is there anything more full of wonder than a child at the beach? Underneath the waves is an entire world waiting to be discovered. Join us every Sunday for a day at the beach, and learn more about the aquatic world!

The water world is a brutal one; every angler has a story about how they have pulled a small fish toward the boat only to have it struck by a larger one on the way in. It's a fish-eat-fish world out there.

It's also a worm-eat-fish world, too. Enter the Bobbit Worm, a nasty ocean bottom dweller that grows to NINE FEET in length and with a mouth so powerful it can snap a fish in half. And it's a better angler than you are!

It's a monster from a science fiction tale, that's for sure. In 2009, a British marine museum was alarmed by the disappearance of fish and the fact that coral was being sliced in half. They could not find the culprit, so they drained the tank and started to dismantle it when they ran across this:

A Bobbit Worm (only four feet long). They named it Barry, which seems oddly appropriate for a killer fish-eating worm. Anyway, you can read more about the Bobbit Worm by googling its Latin name Eunice aphroditois. And try not to have nightmares when thinking about it!

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: Redin Minnow

James “Jim” L. Donaly, from Newark, New Jersey, applied for a patent for his “Redfin” Minnow on January 7, 1911, and patent number 1,093,980 was granted to him for the “Redfin” on April 21, 1914. Although the patent was not granted until 1914, Donaly made and sold them as early as 1912, and most probably even before.

The “Redfin” Minnows were adorned with three small rounded triangular-shaped metal flasher blades, usually made from aluminum and sometimes brass, that were strategically placed on the front (as a weedless feature), and on the rear and the underside of the lure to mimic tail and anal fins. The 3-1/4”, ¾ ounce “Redfin” Minnow could be ordered with treble hooks or with a “Jersey style” three-point hook configuration. Sporting beautiful round glass eyes that were set inside the dished out face, the wooden bodied “Redfin” Minnows were available in three brushed-on-by-hand paint colors; No. 27, white body with red band; No. 37, green back with white belly; and No. 47, white body with red stripes. The two piece cardboard boxes that the “Redfin” Minnows were packaged in show a beautiful drawing of the lure, depicting a pointier fish-shaped body more closely resembling the original patent drawing than the rounder faced lures that Donaly actually produced.

From ingenuity, to the drawing board, to the end product, the “Redfin” Minnows are true hand-made folk art lures that were designed and produced by Jim, then hand painted by his wife and daughter, and then each assembled by Jim inside their family home. It is really cool to think that the lure in this photo, as well as every other “Redfin” Minnow, was actually hand-made by the inventor, James L. Donaly. Now that’s quality control at its finest!

If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.

-- Elissa Ruddick

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

This is a tour of John WIlkinson's lure shop.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is a scarce Japanese Olympic reel in the box.

Don't see too many of these Mack Hooks for sale.

Not much of a bobber guy but this is pretty cool!

This Jamison Raider is an early in the box, a very rare combo!

This Heddon P-41NL is sharp.

A Penn #7 Catalog is superb cool.

This Alcedo Mark V in the box is a fine reel.

Heddon Artistic Minnows are THE BEST.

Aggghhh! This Chapman is just crazy awesome.

The Heddon Musky Surfusser is a cool bait.

This Paw Paw Bullhead in flock is very cool.

Nifty Minnie tubes are awesome.

As always, have a great weekend -- and be nice to each other, and yourself!

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Spring Activated Coil Fishing Rod by Doug Bucha

The Spring Activated Coil Fishing Rod

by Doug Bucha

At the recent Niles Riverfest, I was able to photograph some of Ric Ladonski's collection of spring rods. Some people who stopped by thought these rods were designed for ice fishing. The truth is, the rods were designed to be broken down into two parts so they could be stored in ones tackle box for easy transport. The concept behind the coil was to make up for the rod not having any length to it. Believe it or not, the rod does have a good action when playing a big fish. They were popular from the 1920s trough the '50s.

Photo of Harold Dickert and Ric Ladonski discussing some of Ric's Spring Rods.

The most interesting of Ric's Spring Rods. Electric ???? We can not figure it out either.

Maybe someone one on the blog can? If anyone has an answer they can email me at dbucha AT att DOT net

-- Doug Bucha


The following was sent in by reader Mike of Dayton and illuminates a bit more on the Spring Coil Rod:

I don't know if you ever get to the Friendship, In. Flea Market they have twice a year or not. But I went there twice a year every year for about 3 years. (That was about 4 years ago.) And every year there was a younger guy there selling spring rods.

Anyways the story he told me was his grandfather was the guy who invented spring rods or came up with the ideal or something like that. Anyways his grandfather had the patent on them. When his grandfather passed away none of the relation wanted to take over the business. So when he (the guys grandson, or maybe it was a great grandson) got old enough and got some money ahead he took over the rights for the spring rods and had them re-produced by the same company his grandfather used years ago. Then he bought a big ol' RV and traveled all over the country selling his grandpa's spring rods at flea markets.

I knew about them as a friend of mine collected spring rods. My friend had one from England that came with 3 different spring rods and 1 handle. There was a light, medium, and heavy.

Anyways the guys grandson went into his RV and took out an old looking spring rod that was what he claimed to be his grandfathers first spring rod and he put it next to one of his and everything was the same! I asked him how someone could tell the difference from the new ones and old ones? He said they can't they are one and the same.

So when ever I see one for sale I always try to pass this info on as it might be a new spring rod and not an old one.

Thanks Mike!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Voices from the Past: To Polish Spinners (1921)

I always thought the Outdoor Recreation family of magazines is underrated; not only did they have great writers, but they also had many neat little articles on tips for anglers. Here's one from the May 1921 issue I never thought of but it actually works.

To Polish Spinners

by M. Welch

If you ever need an emergency polish for spinners or other metal articles, use an ordinary pencil eraser – the Faber red-rubber erasers are what I use, but any rubber eraser would probably work as well. Rubbing the metal with the eraser will give it a nice polish. It does nicely to clean spinners, rod ferrules, etc. Do not leave the eraser in the same tray with your spinners, as the rubber will ruth black if it remains in contact with the metal for a long time.

I wonder if this is why I find a lot of small pencils with erasers in tackles boxes from this era?

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, August 11, 2014

In the News: Ted Williams the Tackle Magnate

I have collected Ted Williams fishing tackle for 20 years. I'm not talking about the common Sears branded Ted Williams stuff; I'm interested in the pre-1962 Ted Williams Inc. (TWI) of Miami branded items. From 1954 through 1962, Ted was partners in a tackle wholesaler that launched a branch under his name, and he spent the better part of a decade hawking tackle across America.

Sarasota Magazine ran an article recently that reminded me of this. It's worth reading both to remember that Williams was an incredible ballplayer and an ornery cuss, but also a man more dedicated to fishing than almost anyone else.

Ted was a complex man and a world class angler. There is something about that combination that has built a mystique around him ever since his passing over a decade ago.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: Abbey & Imbrie Contract Minnow Made by Heddon

Although this famous New York company never actually produced their own fishing tackle, Abbey & Imbrie was a very well known brand of fishing tackle from 1875 until they were bought by Horrocks-Ibbotson in 1930.

Many fishing tackle manufacturers produced lures for A & I, as they are commonly referred to, including major tackle companies such as James Heddon and Sons. There is absolutely no question that the A & I lure in this photo was made by the Heddon factory. This circa 1920’s wooden minnow is Heddon’s 0 series minnow in their “9L” Yellow Perch Scale color pattern, but what makes this minnow uniquely A & I, is that Heddon did not produce their 0 minnows in the Yellow Perch Scale color pattern for themselves, and of course the front and rear props are stamped with “Abbey Imbrie” instead of “Heddon’s Dowagiac”. Other than those two unique characteristics, the lure possesses the same quality components and workmanship that Heddon was very well known for.

So whether you say this lovely lure is A & I or say it’s Heddon, it certainly meets the criteria that is printed on the two piece cardboard A & I “GO-GETTERS” box, “Fishing Tackle That’s Fit for Fishing”.

If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.

-- Elissa Ruddick