Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: THE CHIPPEWA BAIT – CHIEF OF RIVER AND LAKE

Omer F. Immell of Blair, Wisconsin received two patents for his unique “Chippewa” lure, number 974,493 on November 1, 1910 and number 990,984 on May 2, 1911, with the latter more closely resembling the actual production lure. A very talented man, Omer held ten patents during his life, four of which were fishing related. After founding a manufacturing company in 1904, he must have been more interested in inventing and selling fishing items, as he sold the non fishing inventions and started the Immell Bait Company in 1906, then in 1909 he changed the name to the Immell Bait and Tackle Company.

He incorporated on April 30, 1912 with three others, selling 50 shares of stock for $5,000.00. There were several versions of the “Chippewa”, including floating and sinking models, in sizes ranging from 3-1/2” to 5-1/4” that were painted in 12 different known colors, all with beautiful, round, life-like glass eyes. All sizes of the “Chippewa” lures featured an integrated metal spinner in the center of the lure that spun in the water when the lure was being retrieved to attract fish, and I’m sure it was just as intriguing to the fishermen when shopping for lures! One side of the spiral spinner was painted red, while the other side was chrome plated and stamped with “PATDNOV11910”. It is believed that the Immell Bait and Tackle Company continued making the lures until sometime in 1915, and the company ceased to exist all together on January 1, 1918 when its charter was revoked by the state of Wisconsin. From late 1912, after Omer incorporated his company, until they ceased being produced, C. J. Frost of Stevens Point, Wisconsin was the sole distributor for Immell’s “Chippewa” lures, and may have actually produced the components, or maybe even the complete lure. The last advertisement known for the “Chippewa” was in 1915 by the C. J. Frost Company.

Regardless of the unknowns, Omer Immell’s “Chippewa” lure invention remains a favorite among collectors today, and I’m sure it will for many years to come. Hmmmmm … I wonder what politically correct name these “Chippewa” lures would have to be changed to if they were still being produced today?

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

— Elissa Ruddick

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

If you have an hour or so check out the documentary film (the whole thing is here) THE COMPLETE ANGLER by James Prosek

12 Things I Would Buy If Only i Could Afford Them

This Shakespeare “PIG” Glass Minnow Trap is really great.

Kind of really love this Brilliant Mullet Scale Husky Musky.

This 1852 dated J.T. Buel is beyond great.

This Shakespeare Barnacle Bill in the box is a great piece.

Weirdest looking great plug around, the Paw Paw Platypus.

A 1927 Maryland License Pinback is lovely.

This Meek #3 is blowing up.

Mint Outing Getums are rare as Hen’s teeth.

Love this set of two Enterprise Mftg. Co. Pflueger 2nd quality baits on the card.

A Globe in a maroon box is a nice find.

This Heddon Winona is a cool Indiana style reel.

Love this 1931 Creek Chub catalog.

As always, have a great weekend — and be good to each other, and yourself!

— Dr. Todd

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Rare Pflueger Dealer Display

I was looking up other things recently and ran across this blurb in the June 1922 Hardware World magazine. It was above an article entitled “Dealer Cooperation” and showed what has to be one of the toughest Pflueger advertising pieces to find. The copy read:

The Enterprise Mfg. Co. of Akron, Ohio are offering to send to dealers, prepaid, a three-piece window display in color on heavy lithographic board, with double easels and complete instructions for setting up, as a means of helping to increase their sales and extend their trade on Pflueger’s fishing tackle.

These three display pieces consist of the fishermen as shown above a leaping bass and water, a counter pamphlet container. It is sure to attract attention at this season. They claim to be the oldest and largest manufacturers of fishing tackle in the United States making a complete line of everything the fisherman needs. They will be glad to send their catalog, No. 37, of some 400 pages of interesting and valuable information to any of our readers who have not received a copy.

I imagine this display was at least six feet tall, and I bet it had gorgeous colors! It’s a superb piece.

So … has anyone seen this dealer display?

— Dr. Todd

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The American Snell Part VIII: A.C. McClurg & Co. Superior Snells

We wrote up the history of A.C. McClurg back in the “52 for 52” days, when we covered the history of 52 trade houses in one year.

General Alexander Caldwell McClurg was a Civil War veteran who became a legend in the book business, being one of the largest book publishers and distribution houses in America. Best known for publishing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books, in the 1919 Sporting Goods Dealer the company was listed as a sporting goods jobber, implying they were in the tackle business a generation before I had previously thought they were.

This would explain why bamboo fly rods marked “McClurg's Challenger” have been found; they are Union Hardware products, a pre-World War II manufacturer of note that never got back into the business after Word War II.

These are ca. 1950 McClurg & Co. snells from the 1930s, likely manufactured for them by Pequea (who utilized that sylized “S” on many snells they made for other companies). They are fairly hard to find.

— Dr. Todd

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Voices from the Past: Dixie Carroll on the Pflueger Supreme (1919)

Starting this week and continuing for the next several months, I’m going to feature the fishing tackle writing of one of my all-time favorite writers, Dixie Carroll (Carroll Blaine Cook). These famed pieces of tackle were featured in his great book Fishing Tackle and Kits. They are fascinating write-ups of the tackle from a contemporary perspective. Below is Dixie’s pre-amble followed by the first installment on the Douglass Patent Pflueger Supreme.


During the past few years as editor of the National Sportsman Magazine, fishing editor of the old Chicago Herald, the Chicago Daily News, and author of a series of articles on fishing, hunting and the outdoors for over fifty of the leading daily newspapers of the country I have had thousands of requests from sportsmen asking for my opinion on this or that in the tackle line, or what I thought of this particular piece of kit, or would you carry this line of food in your dufile bag on a two-weeks' canoe trip. Although having fished from the bent-pin stage up to now and toted a rifle or shotgun from as far back as I can remember, there were many lines of goods that I had not used, therefore was not familiar with them and could not give an honest opinion on their value in the woods or along the waters.

To be both square with my readers and fair to the maker of a particular piece of kit about which query had been made and with which I had no experience or knowledge as to its material, workmanship or adaptability for the outer's use, I instituted in the National Sportsman a Tryout and Testing Department, giving the maker of any piece of outdoors outfit the privilege of submitting his goods, same to be put through whatever paces I wished to give it during the work-out, my report to be published, and from which I could base a definite and worth-while reply to a reader.

During the past year and a half I have tried out and tested 364 pieces of kit; of these I have favorably passed on and reported 168 as being in my judgment high class in material and first class in workmanship, and worthy of a place in any sportsman's outfit. On others I have reported either conditions that could be corrected, or that certain stuff was not of a grade or value enough to receive a favorable report.

Following is a selection of reports that have been made on goods that have been submitted by the maker, without any strings tied to them, and upon which I have passed as being right and of value to a sportsman who prides himself on having a kit that he can show to a pal and feel that it will stand the gaff in camp, on the trail or waters. These goods were all given a thorough workout under far more rigid conditions than they could ever receive with ordinary usage, some of the tests extending over a period of six months to a year before being completed, and it is a pleasure to me to place my unqualified endorsement upon them. The trying out of these different pieces of kit, under varying conditions, has been one of the most interesting and instructive things that I have ever handled, and if the outer derives any value from the many hours devoted to the work I will feel that the effort has been rightly placed and that the work has accomplished even more than the good that was originally intended.


The Douglass Patent Pflueger Supreme Casting Reel

Pflueger-Supreme Casting Reel. — Made by the Enterprise Mfg. Co., Akron, Ohio. For a reel that minimizes backlashes to zero and makes a clever caster out of an amateur in a day's casting, the Pflueger-Supreme reel which is combination levelwinder, anti-backlash, freespooler, certainly is a tool that takes all the work out of casting and adds pleasure to the sport. No more cussin' from tangled lines nor tired fingers from guiding the line evenly on the spool. The level-winding part of the reel remains stationary when casting, thus avoiding the frictional wear on the line and on the level winding part of the reel. As you start reeling in, the line is picked up by the carrier and laid on the spool as evenly as the thread on a new spool. The level winder is encased, which makes it dirt, sand and water proof and the carrier only works while the line is being reeled in. The gears which are generated spiral toothed are always in mesh which makes it impossible to strip them, the clutch taking hold automatically when the line is reeled in. The automatic thumbers set on the inside of the end plate make the reel anti-backlash; as the tension of the bait diminishes, these thumbers slow down the spool and as the bait drops on the water the spool stops. A mighty handy part of the reel is the adjusting screw with a dial regulator on the end plate by which the tension of the thumbers can be regulated to the weight of the lure. A complete twist of this dial and the reel is a free-spool, level-winder for the fellow who wishes to thumb the reel without the help of the automatic thumbers. The reel is finished in the dull satin silver which throws no flashing signals to the waiting fish. It is built right and of fine material and will last a fisherman a lifetime. For night-fishing, when the big ones are out, it is a wonder worker. The Pflueger-Supreme reel carries the usual guarantee of the Enterprise Mfg. Co. as to quality and service.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, November 17, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Haskell Minnow Sells for $8000.00

The recent fairly unpublicized auction of A Rare Haskell Minnow went to auction today; this beautiful lure sold for a hammer price of $8000.00. When the 18% buyer's premium ($1440.00) and shipping, taxes, and insurance are factored in, it looks like the lure sold for approximately $9500.00 -- not a record but a solid price for an auction with little fishing tackle.

What would this Haskell have brought at Lang's? A Baby Haskell Minnow brought over $20,000.00 with buyer's fee in 2012, so it's possible this one would have exceeded (possibly far exceeded) the $8000.00 hammer price. In fact, no Haskell Minnow sold by Lang's has sold for LESS than $20,000.00 with fees since Live Auctioneers began recording final value prices for Lang's auctions. So it's pretty fair to say that it went for a good buyer's price.

Regardless, the bottom line is someone added a really iconic piece of tackle to their collection!

-- Dr. Todd

In the News: Chip O’Brien, Fly Fishing Writer

I’m often asked by strangers about how they can break into the outdoor writing world. I always tell them the same thing: write a lot. Like, all the time. Learn how to research and write. But even good writers and researchers have trouble finding paying work.

The story of fly fishing writer Chip O’Brien is very telling. O’Brien got his first break in the early 1990s writing about something he knew well, the McCloud River. That one article helped spiral into a career that has culminated in over 500 articles over two decades.

I feel for budding writers today; it’s a brutal world out there and very few paying jobs for writers. But perseverance still matters, and with some luck you can make a name for yourself in the fishing world.
— Dr. Todd

Sunday, November 16, 2014

1000 Words: Hollywood Goes Fishing

There are few celebrities who enjoyed fishing more than Bing Crosby. The best selling crooner of the 1930s and 1940s, he was a superstar until his passing in 1977. His favorite hobby of all was fishing, which he often did with his children at his cabin in Idaho. As a major proponent of angling, he was featured in many press photos while angling, including the one below from 1952. It's a great "illustrated photo" of Crosby at his height.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: The Heddon #100

The actual ability of a specific color to attract or even repel fish has fascinated both anglers and scientists alike for many years. One thing is for certain, though, unless a fisherman is truly color blind, color undoubtedly attracts the fisherman! Red is the color that most attracts attention in humans, and I definitely fall into that category. How can one not be attracted to this classic red circa 1905 Heddon “High Forehead” 100 minnow, along with its red lettered wooden box and box paper?

Whether fish can or cannot see the color red, dependent upon the multitude of varying circumstances, may never be known, but I do know for sure that I will never use this old red wooden plug to prove or disprove anyone’s theories!

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

— Elissa Ruddick

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

Watch this British collector break down a Haywood reel from 1810.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is a great Black Sucker from Heddon.

Chippewas are always really awesome finds.

This Heddon #700 is unreal.

The Moore’s Yellow Plug is an often overlooked classic.

When’s the last time you’ve seen an 1835 engraved reel?

Horton #3 tournament reels are the best.

Oscar the Frog is always popular.

Love this Julius vom Hofe.

A 1927 Creek Chub catalog is a really rare find.

A Moonlight Pollywog in the box is a great find.

A Penn Model K from 1932 is going to go berserk.

Always like the Heddon #00.

As always, have a great weekend, and be good to each other — and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Fishing Advertisement: British Travel (1948)

This April 12, 1948 Time Magazine full page advertisement is an interesting piece of travel history. Britain in 1948 was in now way, shape, or form recovered from World War II -- they did not even go off war rationing until the early 1950s. Yet here we see the British Travel Association (BTA) advocating for Americans to travel to Scotland to engage in salmon fishing, which was in the pre-war era a rather important part of the local economy. So the fact that the BTA was actively seeking to drum up tourism for a battered island nation is pretty cool.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Voices from the Past: The Ocean City Casting Trophy (1921)

The following article came from the October 26, 1921 Jeweler’s Circular. It covers the creation of a new casting trophy for the Ocean City Fishing Club.

Ocean City Trophy Cup to Be Awarded at Annual Contest in Casting

THE Ocean City Cup, a perpetual trophy for annual competition in casting, which was presented by the citizens of Ocean City, N. J. to the Ocean City Fishing Club, is being displayed by J. E. Caldwell & Co., Juniper and Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia, Pa.

The trophy, valued at $1,500, was made by the Caldwell firm to replace the original trophy which was lost in a fire at Ocean City during the past Summer. The new cup which was finished recently, is a replica of the original which was also designed and made by J. E. Caldwell & Co.

The Ocean City Cup is made of sterling silver. It is 37 inches high and fitted with a cover which is artistically chased with decorations of sea shells and sea weeds. Surrounding the cover is a fully modeled figure of a Mermaid who holds in her right hand a conch shell with which she is calling fish to the Ocean City waters, while she holds aloft in her left hand the emblem of the club enameled in proper colors.

The cup is fitted with two handles, one being formed by the fully modeled figure of a Mermaid and the other of a Triton. The Triton holds in his hand a fishing line, which extends to the lower part of the body of the cup where a fish is shown on the end of the line. The Mermaid on the other handle has her hand extended, protesting against the fish being taken from the sea.

Mounted on the upper part of obverse side of the cup is the seal of Ocean City, X. J., surrounded by sprays of laurel, crossed fishing rods and reels. Below the seal is the following title and inscription: "Ocean City Cup, a Perpetual Trophy for annual competition in casting. Presented by Ocean City, New Jersey, to the Ocean City Fishing Club."

On the lower part of the body of the cup is produced by fine chasing a suggestion of the waters of the ocean through which fish are seen swimming. The base is decorated with sea shells, sea weeds and crabs, suggesting the bottom of the ocean; and the four feet on which the cup rests are formed with an ornamentation of scrolls and conventionalized Dolphins' heads. The cup is mounted on an ebonized base.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, November 10, 2014

In the News: The Salmon Cannon

The story of the Salmon Cannon has been making the rounds of late. For those who don’t know, scientists created a tube that shoots salmon 30 feet or more to help them on their spawning runs.

It’s an interesting (if surreal) story that’s been picked up by a lot of media, none as funny as the following clip from the great John Oliver:

It’s always interesting when fisheries biology makes national news!

— Dr. Todd

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Deconstructing Old Ads: Pflueger Luminous Tandem Spinner -- Was I Ever Wrong (again)!

Pflueger Luminous Tandem Spinner -- Was I Ever Wrong (again)!

Counter display card of Pflueger Luminous Tandem Spinners as seen the the 1924 Pfluger dealers catalog.

At the 2013 ORCA National Meet in Frankfort Kentucky the vintage tackle fishing contest was held on nearby Elkhorn Creek. I was paired with ORCA’s genial Vice President Bill Muth. We started down 6 miles of river by canoe with high hopes. Bill was using a Pflueger Palomine and I was using a Clark’s Water Scout, a bait that had a good reputation for river smallmouth in days gone by. After 2 miles and no action whatsoever, we both started digging in our tackle boxes for some different lures. I was a bit surprised when Bill held up a Pflueger Luminous Tandem Spinner. I remembered them being in the Hardware store as a kid and I even bought one in 1956. Older tackle boxes I’ve looked through over the years as often as not contained one or two. I do not recall ever seeing anyone use one. I know I never used mine other than to make one or two short casts to see how it worked. It seemed too light to cast well and didn’t have the kind of wiggle that gives young boys confidence.

My remark when Bill held up the Tandem Spinner for my approval was, “that thing has desperation written all over it”. We both laughed, but two casts later Bill’s bait was nailed by a nice river Smallmouth. Needless to say, I was very surprised. A picture of Bill holding that bass appears below. Bill then proceeded to land five more bass winning the contest going away with five more bass landed. Just as we were about to finish the trip Bill lost the biggest bass of the day right beside the boat and all of this on the Pflueger Tandem Spinner. Dang! sure looks like I was wrong about that bait. I made a mental note to pick up a few Tandem Spinners at the next few NFLCC meets that winter.

After acquiring a half dozen of the baits for a dollar or two apiece at the Milwaukee Antique Lure show in January, I set them on my desk. Sometime during the winter I polished the blades after which they were completely forgotten. I happened to notice them the following June and threw them in my tackle box, meaning to give them a try. Fishing was great all during June and early July and I really never thought about the Tandem Spinners again until a very slow (no fish whatsoever) evening on the 22nd of July. What the heck, I’ve nothing to lose, I’ll give one a try. I knew they were light but I was using a 6ft soft action glass casting rod from the 1950’s and a narrow spool Coxe 25 with an 8lb braided nylon line. If that outfit would not cast them, I can’t think of a vintage (pre-spinning) outfit that would. I was pleased on the first cast to see it sale out there about 50 ft. With the rod tip held high it ran a foot or so below the surface. To my pleasant surprise I actually received good hits on the second and third casts! I inspected the lure and as usual on many old baits the hooks were very dull. I took out the file and sharpened each of the three points. I was somewhat flabbergasted to catch three bass on the next five cast! Wow, where has this bait been? I can’t cast it more that 50 feet and unless one drags one’s thumb on the spool a little during the cast the line tends to loop around the first spinner. I hope I’m never too old to say I can’t learn something new!

Thanks to Bill Muth this one stays in the tackle box!

Tight Lines,

Bill Sonnett