The following poem was published in The American Angler for July 1921. It was penned by Ruth Bassett Eddy, a poet of some note who published Altar Fires, a book of her best poems, in 1919. It's a charming piece.
I ran across this article about a Soddy Daisy, Tenn. man who invented a new style of fishing rod. As someone who's spent a bit of time designing and building rods, and who's researched the history of rod making, I was happy to see that innovation was still alive and well. However, the truth is such innovations are tough sledding, as they say. Many anglers do not trust innovation; they want rods that look like what they think a rod should look like. Check out the video below to see Jeff Lomino's new rod (it has a fifteen second ad at the beginning).
This week in Hollywood Goes Fishing we get a really nice set photo of actress Ann Sothern. A veteran of over fifty years on the stage, screen, and television, she was best known for playing Brooklyn showgirl Maisie Ravier in a series of films and on radio and tv. A North Dakotan by birth, she spent much of her free time on her ranch near Ketchum, Idaho. Here she poses with a fish in a 1940 publicity still.
Armax was one of a few generic brand names Winchester used for their fishing tackle, which they offered to jobbers and dealers to sell. The three-hook Armax Minnow pictured with its original unadorned end labeled box, is identical to a Winchester brand name minnow, with exception to the front prop being non-stamped with the Winchester logo and part number. The Winchester branded minnows, along with their ornate boxes, could only be ordered by fully franchised Winchester stores. You won’t find very many Armax or Winchester wooden minnows, or other fishing tackle that Winchester produced for that matter, as fishing tackle was a fairly short lived venture for a company best known for the firearms they produced. Although it is unknown at this time as to which company was contracted to actually produce their brand name wooden minnows, along with their generic wooden minnows, the company produced them with a unique back propeller that presented a rather straight profile. When in a vertical position, Winchester rear props actually look more like a tail on a fish than the curved props that most other manufacturers used on their wooden minnows. And talk about a life-like appearance, the paint job on this minnow looks like the real thing! It’s hard to believe that this minnow was made back in the 1920’s or the first few years of the 1930s. I don’t know if a fish would have been able to focus his eyes enough to see the detail on this lure as it was being retrieved in the water, but I know it would have been hard for a fisherman to pass it by in a dealer’s tackle department. I know I couldn’t pass it by! If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.
-- Elissa Ruddick
The following advertisement for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Springfield features a classic line art drawing by the great Norman Rockwell. I have been thinking about Rockwell since last week my good friend Buckley gifted me a vintage cup and saucer with a Rockwell fishing scene on it. Rockwell, of course, was best known for his Saturday Evening Post covers, some of them fishing scenes. He seemed to like above all else the "barefoot boy with cane pole" motif in his paintings, like the drawing here.
-- Dr. Todd
The following article was found in the Lacrosse Tribune for January 11, 1951 and outlines the absurdity of angling.
Fish Catches Man
Edwardsburg, Mich. A man got caught by a fish here.
And David Quinn, Jr., has a leg full of teeth marks – and two witnesses – to prove it.
Quinn and two friends, James Bigelow and Richard Howard, were ice fishing on Eagle Lake Monday. Quinn speared a four-pound pickerel.
Suddenly he burst from his shanty with a yelp.
The pickerel had embedded its sharp teeth in Quinn's leg and was hanging on with an iron-like grip. It took several minutes to pry its mouth open with sticks.
"First time a fish ever put the bite on me," Quinn chuckled. "But I got even. I put the bite on him for dinner." -- Gary L. Miller
Not long ago I heard a discussion between a couple of collectors about why some of the older baits they found had red thread tied to their treble hooks. The following article, from the September 1917 Forest & Stream, details why this became a popular trend. A Bait That Kills
A couple of trailing streamers of red flannel will accomplish wonders at times, if inserted on the hook. Often big clumsy bits of this cloth look queer on the spoonhook lure, and yet they work wonders in attracting pike. The addition of this red flannel is often the means of contriving a capture when other methods have failed. See that they stream in the water: when they produce an undulating motion they are the most attractive.
It is said that red acts on preying fishes much as it does when flashed in front of an angry bull. This is the reason why so much red is used on artificial minnows, bucktails, etc. And no doubt it fulfills a purpose, for red seems to be without any doubt a winning coloration in the eyes of the fish.
As for the strips of flannel attached to the spoonhook, I think it is chiefly the undulating motion and apparent animation that creates in the water that arouses the fish to strike. This I have proven by using white cloth strips with good success.
You will, likewise, have agreeable luck if you attach a pair of small red trailers to your plebeian pork rind lure; some use red yarn. These threads have a peculiar motion in the water that arouses curiosity in the fish and adds animation to the lure.
In using pork rind lures it is a singu larly good idea to have a spinner up ahead of the rind. Hooks with these spinners already attached are to be had in many forms on the market. The glitter and the pork rind form a double attraction. My best results have been had with the spinner in collaboration with the rind.
It is wrong to believe that the larger the lure the more attractive it is. Rather it can be said that the smaller, lighter lure has many points to its favor that the large lure has not. This has been evidenced in the smaller artificial minnows that are being put out by all the manufacturers. In fact I have come to believe firmly that a too large artificial rather frightens than causes a bass to be attracted to it to strike. This may be said to be especially true where the waters are very clear. I do admit there is a place for the large artificials, and that is where the waters are murky, or not out and out clear, or when the day is cloudy. But when the day is sunshiny and the waters are clear I would, on all counts, recommend for use the smaller sized minnow. Also in murky water, as after a rain, the pure white minnow is best seen, and the drabcolored minnows will not be seen.
The best minnow that the bass fishermen in the south can use is the white colored one, since much of the water in the south is not too clear.
-- Dr. Todd
The following article comes from ICAST and deals with the subject of the growth of fly fishing. Yes, fly fishing is on the rise again, after a precipitous drop after the turn of the century (a natural decline that came after a decade of growth inspired by the movie A River Runs Through It). It would seem that the big box sporting goods stores all have taken notice and stocked nice fly fishing sections. These stores in the Cincinnati area where I live have always had decent fly fishing stocks, but that's because the city is a hotbed for fly angling.
It will be an interesting story to follow …
-- Dr. Todd
Manufactured in about 1907 for the Vim Company by the Joseph E. Pepper Company, Rome, NY, is this wonderful five hook underwater minnow and picture box combo. Vim was a general merchandise company located on 68 Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois in the early 1900s. Joe Pepper produced trade minnows for several companies, and distinguished his minnows from other makers of the day, by hand painting them with reverse gill marks, and when using glass eyes, they were normally forward facing. The twisted wire through-body hook hangers and line tie, tube-type “bow tie” props, milky yellow egg-yolk glass eyes, and hand painted body all lend a true “folk-art” feel when gazing at this lure from any angle. The printing on the right hand side of the box top pretty much sums it all up for me, stating, “You Will Like It.” And indeed I do!
If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.
-- Elissa Ruddick
While living on the Gulf Coast of Alabama this winter, I decided to check out the local museums in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. I found that both museums have nice comprehensive displays of commercial and recreational fishing.
Of course, I was interested in the recreational fishing. Christie Shannon and her staff at the Gulf Shores museum have put together a fine display of both. Over at the Orange Beach museum, Gail Walker Graham and her staff have gone beyond the common display. She and her staff have developed one of the finest presentations that I have viewed. Gail's museum also has a fine display of the influence of the Native American cultures on the area. If you ever get a chance to become a Snow Bird and visit this area, please take the time to visit and enjoy both museums. It is time well spent.
-- Doug Bucha
The following piece by Samuel Camp, noted outdoor writer, entitled "The Reel and Its Handling" was published in Outing Magazine for April 1909. Its subject was the multiplying reel, which by this point had become commonplace. It's a neat overview of the outdoor writing style of the day.
Contrary to the ideas of a good many anglers the speed of a quadruple reel is strictly not for the purpose of getting in the line as speedily as possible, thereby endangering tackle and courting the loss of a hooked fish, but merely to facilitate casting. The gearing of the reel, four revolutions of spindle to one of handle, is such that, in practiced hands, long casts are easily made. In the handling of the quadruple reel the most common mistake is to keep the reel constantly in an upright position. The rod should be so held that, in casting, the sides of the reel are almost parallel with the water, the rod being turned in toward the angler. In this way the reel reaches its highest efficiency and, too, the friction of the out-running line against the rod is reduced to a minimum. The quadruple reel most suited to baitcasting is long in the barrel and of small size. When choosing a reel of this sort it should be remembered that, for casting purposes, only very fine lines are practicable, "tournament," size H, or the very largest line that will give good results and the one most used in fishing, size G. So the reel, to hold fifty yards of regular casting line, need be no larger than the size known as "sixty yard." The use of a small reel is very desirable since it tends to lighten any outfit, and it is especially desirable for use on split-bamboo casting rods under six feet in length, since these rods are usually of very light weight. The angler should bear in mind that a good quadruple casting reel is built like a watch —watchmakers made the first Kentucky reels and their descendants are still at it— and that while it will indefinitely stand intelligent use, it will most certainly not stand abuse. The reel should be oiled at intervals, but only sparingly so as not to flood the mechanism. Also it should be kept clean outside so that small particles of sand or other matter may not work in; and at times, the inside mechanism should be cleaned, but this should be delegated to the maker or some professional—the average amateur has mighty little business with the "insides" of a casting reel. German silver is the most satisfactory material, and it is preferable to have a casting reel of solid metal. For the single-action click reel, german silver and hard rubber is recommended; the metal being placed in the form of a band around the outside of the reel plates to guard against cracking the rubber in case the reel is accidentally dropped.
The uses of the double-multiplying reel are many, and the average fisherman, who is neither a bait or fly-caster, usually employs this sort of "winch." It may be used to advantage in worm fishing for trout with a regulation bait rod, that is, a rod with reel-seat above hand-grasp, and also in still fishing for bass or other fishes. For trolling purposes the double multiplying reel is preferable to the four-multiplier, for the reason that as you increase the speed of a reel there is a resultant loss of winding in power. The chronic bait- or fly-caster is usually too nervous and restless, as a consequence of the activity of his favorite angling methods, to be a good still-fisher; and so, when casting the minnow, artificial bait or fly fails to interest the fish, he generally resorts to trolling. The retrieve of the single-action reel is much too slow to handle efficiently the usual long line used in trolling. -- Dr. Todd
I have quickly fallen in love with Fort Wayne. It's a lovely town, and the venue for the recent NFLCC Nationals is terrific. I really enjoy not only the Hilton hotel but the friendly staff and the well-run show. There was a lot of good press like the articles here and here and here and here and here.
To be honest, I was a bit reluctant to go this year, as there was so much negativity leading up to the show. However, I can say for the first time in half a decade or more, I actually left the show more hopeful than when I arrived. While I can say that no substantive changes were made to some of the more glaring problems facing the show (it was a ghost town on Friday this year and Saturday was a negative void) there was at least hope that some change would be made for the future.
And besides, those who were around had a very successful show. Everyone I talked to sold a ton of tackle -- one long time member, for example, said he sold more at this show than he had in 20 years. Several others echoed the same sentiments.
Besides, it's always good to catch up with old friends, although I am still reeling from news of the death of Michael Koller. More on that this week … but the launch of Bill Sonnett's new book went well and the casting demonstration was a blast.
I was on the fence about Springfield but have decided to go due to my positive experience at Fort Wayne, and for that, we owe all the credit in the world to the show hosts Dave Saalfrank and Bob King. Great job, guys.
-- Dr. Todd