Monday, October 20, 2014

In the News: Rattlesnake Rods?

I am always a sucker for a custom rod company story, so when I saw this feature flash across the news wire I knew I was hooked. MaryLou VandeRiet of Dallas, Texas is making custom fishing rod with rattlesnake and copperhead skins.

It’s a fascinating story and one that starts with a woman in her 50s who had never even been fishing before. A fortuitous set of events occurred and she entered the rod business about 20 years ago, and has been making high end rods ever since. They are really interesting, as is she!

Snakeskin rods from Texas seem so fitting it’s natural, but I’ve never seen one before this. Fortunately, the amount of snake skins needed wouldn’t put a dent in the snake population (which, I might remind you, is in crisis right now).

So keep on keeping’ on, snake rod lady. I may just have to get one of these myself!

— Dr. Todd

Sunday, October 19, 2014

1000 Words: Hollywood Goes Fishing

In this week's Hollywood Goes Fishing, we feature a publicity still from 1981 featuring actress Lauren Hutton. If you've been living under a rock the past four decades or so, Hutton was a supermodel-turned-actress best remembered (cinema-wise) for her roles in movies such as Once Bitten and American Gigolo. This photo dates from 1981 but I'm not sure what it's for.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Art of the Lure: The Fred Arbogast Big Tin Liz

This 1 oz. chunk of colorful fish shaped metal was designed to fish for pike and musky by the Fred Arbogast Company of Akron, Ohio. The BIG TIN LIZ was offered in either standard or weedless configurations, and was regularly offered in the two following colors; Red Side Chub and Silver with Red Head. This 1930 box, often referred to as the “John Field” box due to the photo on top showing John Field holding his 35 lb. musky that he had caught on a BIG TIN LIZ minnow, is one of the scarcest Arbogast boxes to find. The “Big Liz” (1 oz.) had been offered as a choice alongside the “Regular Liz” (5/8 oz.) and the “Baby Liz” (1/2 oz.) before the John Field advertising box came out around or after May of 1930, so it is my opinion that Arbogast was trying to sell more of their 1 oz. sized Tin Liz lures by using the John Field advertising on top of the large size box, as well as their advertisements featuring John Field in sporting magazines beginning in May, 1930.

Hmmmmm … they must have had a time machine in order to get the ad completed and off to the magazines, and for the magazine editors to get the ads to the presses before printing their May editions, which I am assuming came out before Mr. Field supposedly caught his musky on May 28th!!!! Well, I guess they could have meant May 28, 1929 … And it’s a good thing that the lure in the photo was never cast out into pike or musky waters, as the person who owned it had it rigged all wrong for keeping those toothy fish hooked!

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

— Elissa Ruddick

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

This 1950s video of tarpon fishing in Boca Grande Pass is really cool.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This Heddon Black Sucker is super nice.

A Heddon High Forehead 150 is amazing.

Like this Heddon Basser in Blue Scale.

A Meek #3 Bluegrass is a nice find.

This Heddon River Runt is pretty tough.

A 4 Brothers Neverfail Underwater Minnow is very nice.

This Shakespeare Wonderod dealer display is superb.

A Moonlight Zig Zag in the box can be tough to find.

This Gold Keeling Expert is really clean.

Despite the incorrect historical information this A&F Passport is still a rare rod.

Ans. B. Decker baits in the box do not come up often for sale.

Man, this A&F Montague is exploding.

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

— Dr. Todd

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Fishing Advertisement: 7up (1964)

When I was a kid, 7up was the drink of adults. It was also the drink my mother gave me when I was home sick from school. Thus, when Sprite arrived on the scene during my childhood, I gravitated towards it. After all, it had youthful advertising behind it, immediately became widely available, and I didn’t have to drink jt only after I had thrown up. 7up quickly disappeared from my life.

One day in my adult years, I asked for a Sprite from a friend of mine and he gave me instead a 7up. Not having had one in about 20 years, and not having great memories of it, I turned my nose up. But given the alternative, I decided to bite the bullet.

Guess what? I discovered that 7up really is better than Sprite, at least to adult me. No wonder this 1964 ad touts it as “the man’s mixer.” Now I wouldn’t mix it with a double finger of Lagavullin … but it definitely beats Sprite hands down.

I like that the image the advertisers chose to attach to 7up was big game fishing. It’s a cool ad from the Mad Men era of Madison Avenue.

— Dr. Todd

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Voices from the Past: Musky Fishing in Clayton, New York (1860)

Gary Miller sent in this blurb to me some time ago and I am just now getting around to posting it. It’s from the July 31, 1860 New York Times, back when the Gray Lady was just one of a couple dozen daily papers in NYC. It features a lovely account of musky fishing in Clayton in the days of Gardiner Mills Skinner.

This fishing is peculiar in its character. Your landlord engages your guide, with boat and tackle, for one dollar and a half a day, to serve you from dawn to dark if you wish to fish as early and as late. Two rods, supported entirely by the boat, one reaching out upon one side, and the other upon the other, with lines attached about 100 feet long, with spoons or decoys, and a drag-line from the stern about 150 feet in length, comprises the tackle. A seat is provided for the sportsman, which is generally a cushioned chair in the stern-sheets of the boat, and he sits face to the guide. In this luxurious and easy position he can amuse himself when the fish are not active in smoking, reading, viewing and admiring the quiet scenery of the beautiful islands surrounded by the crystal waters, or, if he so inclines, can sleep, relying upon his guide to wake him when he has a strike. The guide rows you over the best ground, if you are not personally acquainted with it, and the most uninitiated are enabled to tell when a fish seizes the decoy. Then hand over hand with the line, slowly, till Mr. Fish makes his appearance near the boat, and the great skill is in landing him safely. A large one requires the gaff; a smaller one is seized just back of the head with the hand, and a smaller one still is jerked in unceremoniously. A good day's sport gives so many that at night a true sportsman feels ashamed to look upon such murder.

The muskallonge vary in weight from 15 to 65 pounds; the pickerel from 2 to 20 pounds; the black bass from one to four pounds. It is not uncommon to see little boys and girls in skiffs rowing about the river trolling. One day last week a small lad was thus engaged in the bay near the vessels lying at the wharf, when he "fastened" (a local term) to a muskallonge. Being alone in the boat, with no implements to secure him or kill him, and the fish being about as heavy as the boy, it was a fair and for a long time seemed to be a very doubtfully-resulting fight. The lad, however, had the advantage; for while the fish was being weakened by the struggle, the boy held his own. The boat swayed round and round as the muskallonge struck out right and left, till at last the lad succeeded in getting Mr. Muskallonge's head over the gunwale, and by one sudden convulsion of the fish in he came with the boat. And now the reader may suppose the fight was ended. Not so: for it had but just begun, for the boats sit low upon the water, and these fish, averaging about five feet in length, will go overboard, if not prevented, quicker than they come in. The little fellow let go the line, and seized Mr. Muskallonge around the body, and a rough and tumble scuffle ensued upon the bottom of the boat, the fish being first uppermost and then the boy; but he held on, and hollowed stoutly for help, when one of the guides, seeing his condition, shot out with his boat from the shore, and towed in the contending parties. But the little fellow never relinquished his hold till the club was applied to the muskallonge's head, when it was ascertained the fish weighed 48 1/8 pounds. Mr. JOHNSON, the proprietor of the Walton House, sent the fish to the proprietor of the Everett House, in New-York.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, October 13, 2014

In the News: The International Fario Club

The International Fario Club was founded by the legendary Charles Ritz back in 1958 to bring together people from diverse backgrounds all of whom had a passion for fly angling. Every year, the annual event culminated with a distinguished dinner at the Paris Ritz hotel followed by test casting “Ritz” fly rods on the Tir aux Pigeons ponds, designed by Ritz himself.

In 1996, after lying dormant for some time, the IFC was relaunched in the U.K. with a Trophée Charles Ritz in honor of its founder in 1996. Sponsored by the famous Farlow’s tackle company, the casting contest was recently held and won by Frenchman M. Laurent Sainsot.

As I am partial to Ritz its rather nice to see this contest getting the proper coverage it deserves.

— Dr. Todd

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: Heddon’s “New Big-Six”

What’s not to love about a six-pack? Six-pack abs, a six-pack of your favorite beer, and Heddon’s “New Big-Six”!!! What a great way to sell more lures as well as teach fishermen how to use each lure so they’d keep coming back for more. Not only is each lure fun to look at in their own little unique display case, but the graphics inside the box lid is a work of art on its own. Dealers could order a variety of “six-packs” that Heddon offered in their dealer catalogs. The 1929 dealer supplement of Counter Display Boxes states, “This Modern Merchandising Method Shows the Baits and Sells them. Heddon's Display Boxes of one-half dozen baits are extremely attractive and convenient. These bright-red boxes, with color reproductions of fish on the inside, catch the eye and arouse interest. Many dealers are selling a whole box of six, instead of just one bait, because of the attractive display and expert selection, and the convenience of the boxes. It is commonly known and conceded that goods well displayed are half sold.”

A great idea by Heddon to sell more lures back in the 1920s … and a smorgasbord of art for collectors to look at today.

Courtesy of J. Pettis ... note the different configuration of the six lures.

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

-- Elissa Ruddick

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

This is an awesome Johnson motors promotional film from the 1950s on fishing in South America.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This Hardy Jock Scott reel is really great.

This Seamaster Mark III is really incredible.

This is a really great old wood lure.

This Rebel Pop R set is really causing a ruckus.

A Heddon Crazy Crawler in Chipmunk is beyond cool.

A Pflueger Medalist #1392 is a nice find.

Truline rods are always popular.

The Winchester 2640 is a great find.

This Arbogast musky Jitterbug is incredible.

This Slope Nose is really awesome.

An Outing Getum is a great and unique lure.

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

— Dr. Todd

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Fishing Advertisement: Baker's Breakfast Cocoa (1924)

Baker’s Breakfast Cocoa, as seen in this charming 1924 advertisement, was long a staple in American cupboards. Interestingly, the firm was one of the first to be sued for false advertising, having claimed that it was processed to have “treble the strength of cocoa as usually prepared” and “has more than three times the strength of cocoa mixed with starch, arrow-root or sugar.” The state of New Hampshire investigated the firm and found that Baker’s, in the first case, was lying, and in the second case were misleading. The report concluded “The sample is further misbranded on account of the claims for solubility.”

Regardless, this is a cool ad, and one that represents a lost time and place — who today would let a child swim unsupervised?

— Dr. Todd

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An Angling Miscellany with Gary L. Miller

The following picture is of folk art lures from the estate of Dr. Albert J. Schmaler (1881-1942) of Hillman, Michigan. Schmaler was a noted love of flowers who, according to his obituary in the Alcona county newspaper, “his Gladiolus gardens attracted many flower lovers each summer.” He also made some gorgeous fishing lures. (Gary Miller photo).

— Gary Miller

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Voices from the Past: Concerning Angling in Scotland (1882)

The following passage is from Robert Hall’s The Highland Sportsman, a classic Victorian work on fishing and hunting in Scotland. Note that 1800 pounds sterling in 1882 is the equivalent of nearly $4 million today. That’s a huge investment to secure some salmon angling!


Good salmon-fishing nowadays is almost as expensive a luxury as deer-stalking, and is quite as eagerly sought after and harder to get. For some favourite stretches of the rivers Tay, Tweed, Dee, and Spey fabulous prices are willingly paid, and the six beats into which the river Lochy and its tributary, the Spean, is divided, generally fetches £1800 a-year, being about £160 a mile. The Thurso is also a very highly-priced river, and so is the Naver. Of late years, however, the quality of the sport has fallen off very considerably, and an ugly fungus disease has become epidemic in some rivers, and threatens to spread itself everywhere if piscatory scientists do not discover the cause and, what is better, the remedy.

It is a good rule in fly-fishing never to remain very long at one particular spot. When you have the water, take the best streams and fish them carefully, but as quickly as you can.

The best and pleasantest, and indeed the only efficient, mode is to fish down river, no matter what may be said by many fishermen against it.

A salmon will rise again and again at the fly after it has once missed it, provided it is not pricked by the hook; but trout seldom do so. It is better therefore, when fishing for the latter, and a big fellow rises and misses your fly, to allow it a little time to regain its former position before casting again.

When the salmon takes a fly, the angler must immediately give it line, and bear particularly in mind that the slightest degree of rashness at this moment will lose the fish. It is only by giving it gentle tugs and letting it feel the weight and pressure of the rod and line that you can make it rush about until its strength is exhausted.

— Dr. Todd

Monday, October 6, 2014

In the News: A Tackle Shop Closes

I’m always saddened when a tackle shop closes, like Castaline just has in East Lindsey in the U.K. The reasons for the closing of many established tackle shops are manifest; competition from the internet, declining numbers of anglers, and differing styles of fishing all contribute to the failure of a particular shop.

In the case of Castaline, however, it seems it’s untimely demise was the product of the city council. “I’m fed up with working on a headwind against the council,” shop owner Pete Collins said. “Towns need shops, shops need shoppers and shoppers need free parking. It’s as simple as that. They have put the charges up and they go up year by year. I’m 62 and I’m pissed off with it. All the council is bothered about is revenue from the car parks and it’s driving people away. If you talk to the council about it, they just don’t want to know.”

Sounds pretty ridiculous, if you ask me, and typical of several similar situations I have seen here in the states. Make parking too expensive and you drive shoppers away, shops close, and the shopping districts suffer. A sad story, told too often.

— Dr. Todd

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: Heddon 219B combo

No it’s not very rare, nor is it terribly expensive. I don’t collect Heddon 210s, Heddon Frog Spot colors or even the era of Heddon in which this one was made. Oh, it’s a beautiful example of what it is, new in its correctly marked box, complete with fold out pocket catalog. That’s the kind of lure that I strive to collect, as folks who know me can surely attest; new in box or as close to that as possible. And with that in mind, the person who gave it to me looked high and low to find something he thought I might like. But I truly wouldn’t care if it was a beater, or even if it had rusty hooks.

You see, every time I look at this combo, I don’t see it for its monetary value, its beauty or collectable appeal, I am always reminded of the person who gave me this lure, a person I consider a dear and true friend. There is no amount of money that I would take for this little combo, and I will cherish it as long as I am on this earth. It was never fished, but it will always have a story to tell, at least as far as I am concerned. Because sometimes the true beauty is not about the lure at all, it’s about the people whom it has come in contact with and the stories that it carries along its journey.

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

-- Elissa Ruddick