Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: The Michigan Life-Like Minnow

Patented on February 20, 1908, Jacob Hansen’s Michigan Life-Like Minnow was distributed by the Arntz Sporting Goods Company in Muskegon Michigan. It was made in a 3-3/4” five hook version and a 2-3/4” three hook version in nine colors. The unique vibrant and speckled paint jobs on these “NEAREST THING TO LIFE” minnows remind me of the Easter eggs I used to paint when I was a kid and when my kids were little!

No description compares to the one stated on the box paper:

“AFTER a long experience and careful study of Bait Casting and Trolling, we have gotten up this Bait, or in other words, the “Fisherman’s Friend.” It is made from selected Cedar, very strong and durable, and to represent a live minnow swimming. The improvement on this minnow over other makes, is the Jointed Tail portion, which is flexible, and when being drawn through the water the Three-Blade Propeller wiggles the Jointed Tail portion, and makes an excellent imitation of a live minnow while swimming.

It has been pronounced to be the most perfect casting and trolling bait ever put on the market and beats live bait.

The hooks are very easily detachable, and cannot possibly tangle or interlock, as they cannot swing forward. They can be replaced by any common treble hook, of any size or shape.

The bait is beautifully finished with a Special Water Proof Finish which prevents it from soaking water or peeling off. All spinners and hooks are heavily nickeled, thus preventing rust.”

The lures were complicated to make, so they were not manufactured for very many years, making them very tough to find today. The Michigan Life-Like Minnow, Jacob Hanson’s first commercially produced lure, remains at the top of many collector’s wish lists. This “Fisherman’s Friend” is a friend of mine indeed.

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

— Elissa Ruddick

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

For some reason I found the fishing portion of this long video of a 1920s home movie of a fishing trip utterly charming. Notice how he uses the early Bache Brown spinning reel upside down! I am guessing this dates from the late 1940s rather than the 1930s.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

A Brass Faced Hardy Perfect is always a rare find.

Otto Zwarg reels are super cool.

This Chapman style lure is attracting a LOT of interest.

A Shapleigh Ultra Casting Wood Minnow wood box is super cool, especially if you have the lure!

Another Paulson’s Combination Minnow has hit the market.

This Pflueger Surprise is a delight.

Not familiar with this custom Skippy but it looks cool.

A Heddon Near Surface Wiggler is pretty great.

Love this CCBC Wee Dee.

Little Sac lures are beautifully made.

Lucky 13s in weird colors are always fun.

Everyone likes Winchester flies on cards.

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

— Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Fishing Advertisement: Texaco (1950)

What goes better together than fishing and enormous multi-national oil companies? Nothing, I say. Here Texaco (The Texas Company) touts "Custom-Made" Halvoline Motor Oil by leading with a salmon fishermen on the legendary Restigouche. "Royal Rogan Gray Ghost, salmon fly, made especialy to intrigue the great silver game fish when he swims New Brunswick's fabled Restigouche River. Created by Alex Rogan (of Alex Taylor & Company, New York), famous flytier, whose family has made flies since 1655."

What any of that has to do with motor oil is beyond me, as Halvoline was produced by the millions of gallons. It's a very bizarre ad, that's for sure.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Entertaining History of Rufus V. Allen's Miracle Hook by Fred Ribb

Recently I was lucky enough to pick up an extra box of R.V. Allen’s Miracle Hooks from Chino, California. They are a patented hook from 1952 and a nifty bait holder, and I put it up for sale on Joe's Board. 

Lo and behold soon after it sold I got a message from Fred Ribb, who wrote the following: 

Two years ago I found two gentleman in their upper eighties that knew Rufus V. Allen. One of them recalled Rufus selling his tackle in the back of the old San Saba Hardware Store near the Courthouse square in the 1950s. The building has changed ownership several times over the years and today it is Harry’s Department Store. There are no Family members living here now which makes it difficult to find out much more.   

I saw your board post on Joe’s and thought you might like to have this [a research article]. You should be able to open the two pictures attached. They reflect the difference between Chino, CA. and San Saba advertisement.   

Regards, Fred Ribb   

With Fred’s permission, I give you the history of the Allen’s Miracle Hook, courtesy of Fred Ribb.   

R.V. (Rufus) Allen Tackle manufacturer, San Saba, Texas 

After receiving my R.V. Allen hooks and paperwork by mail, I was eager to start investigation. San Saba is a small central Texas town with a population of just over 3,000. It's better known for being the Pecan capital of the world rather than for its fishing tackle.   

With new treasures in hand, my first stop was the San Saba Courthouse just down the street from where I live. With a little help from the clerk, we found Mr. Allen's death certificate and I was given a copy. Mr. Rufus Virgil Allen was born in Voca, Texas on 9-30-1897 and died at age 62 on 12-30-1959. As the Crow flies, Voca is 30 miles Southwest of San Saba. Mr. Allen’s occupation is listed as a poultry specialist and was considered an expert in Chickens and Turkeys. From talking with a few folks around town, San Saba was one of the Nations top poultry producing counties more than sixty plus years ago.   

Mr. Allen moved to or near Chino, California by at least 1948 as evidenced by patent #2,518,588 that he applied for on June 11,1948. The patent was for improvements to a hen house. Searching Chino, CA. online I found that they were known for their vegetable crops, dairy and chicken production. I suspect the poultry industry was what prompted Rufus Allen's move to the West coast. During his stay in California, there were several patents applied for and granted to R.V. Allen between 1950-53. Among those were live and dead bait hook types, a live bait container and one patent for a trotline which I found quite interesting.  

The trotline is comprised of metal links with eyelets on each end which are joined together with split rings. Stagings are connected by wire clips along the trotlines length at the split rings. A spring is attached to each end of the trotline which gives it flexibility. The springs can be fastened by small rope to a tree trunk or stake driven in the ground. When you're done fishing the trotline, stagings are disconnected and the trotline links are easily folded together and stored in a sack or small compact box free from tangles. Measurements for the metal links are not given but I suspect they would have been approximately eighteen inches long since trotlines generally have staging drops every 36 inches or so. 

Here is a link to his Trotline patent, here is a link to his Live bait container patent, and here is a link to Live bait hook patent. Other patents credited to Mr. R.V. Allen (There may be others I’m not aware of) include a Magnet cutoff valve (#2,576,168 issued on.Nov. 27, 1951) and a Magnetized window control (2,607,961 on Aug. 26, 1952).   

Below is what may be one of R.V. Allen's earliest advertisements, Allen & Richards Mfg. Chino, Calif. The graphics are very similar to the San Saba advertisement but are indeed different as well as the wording used. The box is 2-piece cardboard construction (as shown above). 

— Fred Ribb

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Voices from the Past: Dixie Carroll (1919)

Over 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 write up on the Jamison Fly Rod Wiggler, one of the earliest true fly rod lures.

HEDDON's DOWAGIAC CASTING RODS.- Made by James Heddon's Sons, Dowagiac, Mich. The Heddon's split-bamboo bait-casting rod is a mighty fine one and made right all the way through and at the same time you can get it in price from four dollars up to twenty-five and a good rod that does not stagger your bank roll. Even from the lowest priced ones up you get a good rod and the topnotcher is a winner. I have used these rods from the old one piecer up to the No. 15 and they all work well. The bamboo is selected, the ferrules of German sil- ver, shouldered, hand welt and satin finish while the guides are agate and hardened steel. The construction of these rods is on the one-piece demountable style and that gives you a long tip and short butt; this style allows free whip to the tip giving the bam- boo a chance to bend with all its natural resiliency, throwing the bait with practically no strain on the wrist or arm. They are full of action, yet strong and sturdy and a tool that you can handle with pride on any lake or stream. They look and act the part of a thorobred. The fact that the ferrule is set well below the center of the rod, down towards the butt eliminates the chance of breakage at the ferrule as the bend of the rod centers well above the ferrule. Care in selection of bamboo, thoroughly seasoned, and then care and skill in manufacture as well as the Heddon name behind the rod as a guarantee for workmanship and material means that the Heddon rods are right in every way.

1910 Heddon rod ad.

A Heddon baitcasting rod ca. 1920.

The “Hoosier Queen" by Heddon.

A 1921 Heddon rod ad.

— Dr. Todd

Monday, December 15, 2014

In the News: Fishing in Kyrgszstan

I am not a man who enjoys reading modern travelogues. Maybe this is because I read over 1500 travel accounts while writing my dissertation on British travelers in the Ottoman Empire, but it probably has more to do with the fact that the entire travelogue industry is one big ego-stroking “look where I’ve been” bore fest.

There are exceptions.

This nifty monologue on fishing in Kyrgszstan is both interesting and engaging. It also has a fascinating video that shows the countryside well.

It’s not overly long, is on a subject few have written about, and is engaging and interesting. A rarity in this day and age!

— Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett: Dill's Duck (1904)

Several years ago I was sitting in a hotel room at a National Fishing Lure Collectors Club meet when I mentioned to my roommate Dave Budd that He might want to look through an August 1904 issue of National Sportsman magazine that I had picked up. Dave is a long time collector of tackle made in Indiana. His sharp eye soon picked up an ad that I had overlooked as it did not seem to be related to fishing tackle. It was for a duck decoy made in Auburn, Indiana. It was only after it was pointed out to me that I understood its significance as related to fishing tackle.

The inventor was H. S. Dills who was only 29 years old when he filed for a patent on this decoy in 1902. 14 years later he would become one of three men who founded the Creek Chub Bait Company, which would become one of the largest manufacturers of artificials lures in the world. It is also one of the most sought after companies when it comes to today’s collector of old lures.

Sometime later while Dave was appraising lures in Garrett, Indiana a gentleman walked in with an example of this decoy. It took a couple of years but Dave was ultimately able to purchase the decoy. It represents a Mallard. Since that time three more Dills decoys that were meant to represent Bluebill ducks were found in a barn near Garrett.

Reading the patent papers for this decoy is interesting in that they stress the light weight and compact nature of the decoys as well as ease of set up. The folding, hinged lead weight on the decoy is meant to steady it in the water as well as keep it upright. Staples along the front and sides of the base are there as tie points for the anchor cords. Shown here are two view of an actual Dills Decoy as well as the original 1902 patent drawings.

Tight Lines,

Bill Sonnett



Friday, December 12, 2014

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

This is a great 1950s video of J.C. “Kid” Nichols big game angling in Mexico.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

OK this pre-Rapala Storm Wiggle Wart has gone BA-NA-NAS.

This Meek Reel Oil Bottle is really cool.

This is a really great Ed. vom Hofe salmon reel.

Always gotta love the Chippewa in the box.

This Heddon Vamp has attracted a lot of interest.

A Meek & Milam #3 is as good as it gets.

This Alcedo Oceanic kicks butt.

This Heddon River Runt in clear is a great find.

This is a pretty nice CCBC Sarasota.

This is a pretty sweet 1914 California license.

Love this Robinson Bait Co. lure in the box.

This is a heck of a nice old Bagley.

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

— Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Fishing Advertisement: Kool Cigarettes (1935)

A friend of mine chided me recently about why I never run any ice fishing ads in my semi-regular Fishing Themed Advertisement series. Well, I’ll rectify that here.

We met Kool’s fishing penguin back here. I stand by everything I wrote. You may think you’re cool, but you’ll never be “Penguin Ice Fishing in a Jaunty Scarf and Matching Mittens while Smoking a Cigarette” cool.

Like the other ad this dates from 1935 and it is pretty damn cool, if you ask me.

— Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An Angler's Miscellany with Gary L. Miller

A while back (June 17, 2014) in Dr. Todd’s "Voices from The Past” column he commented about how in the early days of bait casting lures were considered a “novelty”. The following item illustrates that point in spades. I especially love the “done things to the bass” remark, as though there were some sort of witchcraft involved.

An article from the July 3rd, 1903 (Traverse City, Michigan) Evening Record, is very revealing of the fever that gripped the local fishing fraternity. The headline read, “CRAZE OVER BAIT CASTING – WAS INTRODUCED IN THE CITY BY F. W. CARVER. Now Everybody is After a Short Rod, an Easy Running Reel and a ‘Spinnerino.’ Traverse City fishermen have certainly got the bait casting craze, and F. W. Carver, more than any other is to blame for it. The thing that did it more than anything else was the first real killing that Mr. Carver made after his arrival here. He had been up during the summer before this year, and had ‘done things’ to the bass, but there were not so many people who knew it. But one day he did a little trick that set the people crazy. He went to a certain lake where once in a long while a black bass is caught. But the generally accepted idea has been that there were no bass in that lake, or at any rate but very few. Early in the week, shortly after the opening of the season for bass, F. W. Carver and brother, O. P., went to this lake. O. P. caught a few bass. But most of the time he was taking them off the hook for the Hoosier from Angola. They put back the little ones. In fact, they kept nothing under 12 inches long. But just the same, they brought back 30 fine black bass, and had the fish to show for it when they got to town. Then Bert Winnie heard about it. And Bert had to learn bait casting. Of course it did not take him long. And now Bert goes everywhere, up and down stream, pulling out from under the bush on the opposite side of the stream a big pickeral, and from underneath the log in the center of the stream a fine bass. It’s lots of fun for Bert, and amusement for the people who see how he does it, but cannot do it themselves. Even the little boys are taking it up. It is no rare thing now to see a boy trying the fancy shoots, and getting his line tangled just as nicely as the grown-ups. Meanwhile the sale of reels and short rods and long lines and phantom and North Channel minnows, Shakespeares, ‘spinnerinos’ of every description, in fact, goes merrily on. The dealers in fishing tackle are enjoying it, and the bass and pike do not seem to mind it much.”

— Gary L. Miller

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Voices from the Past: Dixie Carroll on the Jamison Fly Rod Wiggler

Over 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 write up on the Jamison Fly Rod Wiggler, one of the earliest true fly rod lures.

Fly Rod Wiggler.— Made by the W. J. Jamison Co. 736 So. California Ave., Chicago, 111. Along comes Jamison with the very, very latest, the Fly Rod Wiggler, a nice little minnow shaped wooden bait that looks so nice that you feel like wearing it for a watch charm. A little fellow 13/4 to 2 1/8 inches long that don't even press down a pair of postage scales enough to hardly pull the indicator down below the starting line. And say the way the two advance models of this bait made the small-mouth bass fighting mad to get to them last Fall was a caution; large trout are also very partial to it. With a fly rod just a bit stiffer than the very light trout rods say a five to six or seven ounce rod, they cast free and easy with just a trifle more pull than a fly, in fact they cast and lift easier than a large bass fly or a small spinner. They come in varied colors and are fitted with one double hook. When you use it in the weeds, turn the hook points up and let 'em stay down when casting clean water. It wiggles along twelve to fifteen inches below the surface but it is a floater and can be used for surface fishing by retrieving it slower. Now that bass and pickerel fishing with the fly rod is developing more and more each season, this lure should be a mighty popular bait as it is undoubtedly an interest creator among the bass and picks. It looks and acts like a minnow and with a small weight ahead of it works fine on the ordinary bait-casting rod. Also great for deep trolling for wall-eyed pike, land locked salmon, etc. It is made just as strong and perfect as any of the rest of Jamison's goods and more you could not say for a lure.

Courtesy of Lang’s Auctions.

Ad from the May 1921 Forest & Stream

— Dr. Todd

Monday, December 8, 2014

In the News: Can a New “Acoustic” Rod Grip Help You Catch Fish?

Inventor Robert Bebout has developed a new fishing idea. Not your regular tackle idea, but one that ties the angler to the fish by a musical note … wait, what? An 81-year old former veteran, Bebout developed the acoustic rod grip despite not being a rod builder himself.

The idea is that the fishing line can transfer energy from the end where the fish bites to the end where the angler holds the rod. The Acoustic Rod Grip allows the angler, according to Bebout, to feel the fish. He got the idea from a guitar playing friend of his, and uses graphite as the acoustic medium for his grips.

It’s an interesting idea and I would imagine that for live bait fishermen it would have great utility. Plus, it’s interesting to think of your rod as a musical instrument!

— Dr. Todd

Sunday, December 7, 2014

1000 Words

This week in Hollywood Goes Fishing we get a candid photo of actor Bob Crane (1928-1978), the star of the legendary series Hogan's Heroes, and his 15-year old son Bobby, fishing off a pier in 1967. Twice nominated for an Emmy award for his work as Col. Robert E. Hogan, Crane's show was a big hit and ran for six years. Sadly, he was murdered in 1978, a crime that has remained unsolved. It's nice to see him in lighter days in this photo.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Art of the Lure with Elissa Ruddick: The K. & K. Animated Minnow

Although little is known about the K. & K. Animated Minnow, “The Minnow That Swims” is thought to be the first jointed, articulated “swim bait” commercially produced. The K. & K. Animated Minnow was granted patent number 857,883 on June 25, 1907, to inventor John D. Kreisser of Cincinnati, Ohio. He began making the lures in 1905, and applied for a patent on January 8, 1906. Although the original patent drawing shows three sections hinged together, the production minnows were only made with two sections. Mr. Kreisser was very confident in his invention, as he so stated in his patent application, “By the use of my animated minnow, the alluring devices, spinning and rotating spoons and other artificial bait now used in game fishing and the live minnow itself are all dispensed with as my animated minnow combines the advantages of them all in a perfect bait.”

The lures were produced by the K. & K. Manufacturing Company in Toledo, Ohio, beginning in 1907, and at some point in time were produced in Boston, Massachusetts by William Read & Sons, until about 1916. They had two wooden body sections hinged together in the center by opposite facing eyelets, with a metal tail inserted into a slot cut into the wooden tail section. They were made in a variety of sizes for all types of game fish, ranging from the slender bodied 3” “Minnoette”, as shown in the photo here, to various 3-1/2”, 4” and 4-1/2” models, ranging from surface lures to deep sinking trolling lures. They were available in various color patterns such as golden shiner, silver shiner, black and silver, green and silver, black and red, rainbow, solid white and solid red. Note the beautiful “cross hatch” design etched into the paint on the back and sides of the “Minnoette” in the photo, giving it a realistic scale pattern which also resembles the box label drawing. They all had over-sized yellow “egg yolk” glass eyes with big black pupils and double hooks that were held in place close to the lure body with pins, until a fish struck. A few old catalogs list a 5-1/2” Musky size, but I am not sure if any have ever been found.

“Swim baits” are still very popular today, but they are merely new twists to an old idea.

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

— Elissa Ruddick