Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Part 2 of the vintage 1938 video of fishing in Duluth, Minnesota. Alas, no gentleman taking a leak at the end of this video.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is an awesome Marshall-Wells hardware company creel.

Which would go well with this Abercrombie & Fitch marked creel.

This Meek #4 is a classic baitcaster.

This is a super rare Tuna Club big game saltwater rod.

Talbot Star baitcasters are works of art.

Talk about your rare Heddon Crazy Crawlers--black shore with white eyes.

This Heddon Punkinseed #740 in White Shore Minnow is going to make a Punk collector awfully happy.

I'm pretty much a sucker for a Kent Frog.

Have Paw Paw Weedless Wows suddenly caught fire?

Frenchy LaMay globe musky lures are rarer than hen's teeth.

Instant Collection Alert: 16 vintage reel oilers for one bid.

This Edward vom Hofe 2/0 in the wooden box is one sweet reel.

This Woods Expert in the box is a scarce and very aesthetic lure.

UPDATE (from Bill Sonnet)
Just looked over the things you would buy if you could afford them, one of my favorites sections each week by the way. I have asked Joe Stag for a second opinion, but I'll just about bet the farm that the Round Bodied Woods Expert with correct box is in fact a Keeling Expert with a Woods Box that have been paired together sometime recently. Ever notice how all woods minnows have opaque iris eyes and Keelings have clear later style eyes? Take a look at these. I've never seen a Woods with these later style eyes.

The Spiral-Wind Long Cast is a great overlooked level wind baitcaster.

Rube Cross was a great fly tier and a signed first edition of his book Fur, Feathers and Steel is the dream of any Rube Cross collector.

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

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Review: My New Book Forgotten Fly Rods

Thursday Review: My New Book Forgotten Fly Rods

This is not a review as much as it is a short blurb about the release of my latest book, Forgotten Fly Rods: Overlooked and Underappreciated American Fishing Rod Makers which just arrived this Monday. It is a book I really, really enjoyed working on and it I think it is a very informative work and a good read, too. It takes a sort of radical approach, in that the book is more about the rodmakers and their craft than a dissection of the rods itself. It is a nice hardcover with dust jacket and is limited to just 150 copies. It would make a great gift and I think will hold its value awfully well, as all bamboo rod hardcover books do.


We know a good deal about many of the major American rod makers, ranging from Hiram Leonard to Eustis W. Edwards to Lyle Dickerson. But high end fly rod makers like these are just the tip (and a glorious one at that) of the iceberg. From the earliest days of American rod making in the 1830s to the immediate post-World War II era, hundreds if not thousands of men made their living in part or in whole as rod makers. We have documented histories of less than 10% of them. This book is an effort to resurrect the stories of rod makers that span the range of American fishing tackle history, from the beginnings to the 1960s.

Meticulously researched and documented, Forgotten Fly Rods brings to light a number of heretofore unknown rodsmiths including Morgan L. Marshall, Clarence Huntley, Nathan Harrington, Amasa Ward, George Miner, and Andrew Kull. It offers, for the first time, detailed histories of a number of rodsmiths whose stories have been misrepresented or incomplete, such as Will H. Cruttenden, George Morgan, Alonzo Fowler, and Roy F.B. Shaver. And it offers new interpretations and information on known rod makers, including Benjamin Welch, John Conroy, and Thaddeus Norris.

The story of the American fishing rod is much more than just split bamboo, and it goes far beyond just high end fly rods. The stories of these overlooked and underappreciated American rod makers will help us to better understand and appreciate the origins and development of the American fishing rod, and as such should prove of interest to fishing historians, rod collectors, and any anglers inquisitive about how the rod in their hands came into being.

192 Pages + 135 B&W Images + 332 Endnotes + 13 rodmakers = 1 great story of forgotten rods and their makers.

Forgotten Fly Rods is available by Clicking Here or sending $54.95 (for U.S. orders only) to: The Whitefish Press, 4240 Minmor Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45217.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Worst Packaging Ever???

Worst Package Ever?

I just had to post this. 20 minutes ago my mailman showed up and handed me two packages. He says, "you're not going to like one of these."

I put the square box down and look at the wonderful package in the mail. I am showing the back side so as not to show the person's address--but suffice to say I knew immediately from the heft and by the fact the handle was sticking through the package that indeed, he has mailed me a reel in a bubble cushion envelope.

And not just a reel, but a pretty scarce Winchester fly reel at that. I mean, really...have you ever had a fishing reel mailed WITHOUT ANY WRAPPING (yes, that is exactly how it came out of the package) in just an envelope folded over??? I am flabbergasted. DOes this happen a lot? I know others buy a WHOLE LOT more tackle than I do, but I've got a plus feedback rating on eBay of nearly 4000 and not once have I ever had something like this occur before. Wild. It is amazing that there appears to be no major damage to the reel.

Just to balance it out, the other package was a heavy cardboard box wrapped in bulk thick paper, and each of the four reels separately wrapped with bubble wrap. Little chance these were going to get damaged.

So does this actual happen or did I just hit the lottery today?

-- Dr. Todd

Can You Guess the Fishing Lure?

Can You Guess the Fishing Lure?

In March 1956, esteemed outdoor writer Homer Circle described the process of creating a new fishing lure in his regular column in the often overlooked magazine The Fishermen. Because the lure had not been released yet, he could not name either the firm that developed it or the name of the lure itself. Using the clues provided, I imagine most of you can guess what lure he was talking about.

For years, the great debate that preoccupied lure designers was whether color or action was the primary motivating factor in successful lures. Now, for the first time, Circle argued there was a new prime agent: sound.

Although for many years, people have known that fish hear sounds, "it wasn't until last year that the research team of a plug manufacturer stumbled across the principle of sound being given off by a fishing lure." It's a fascinating story of how it happened that Homer went into in depth:

They were working in pairs, one walking on the bottom of the lake using a water lung for breathing and lead weight to hold him down. The other sat in the boat, casting over known 'hot spots.' What they were really after was data on a) how various lures look to a fish's eye as they wriggle through the water, and b) how most fish hit a lure.

Suddenly their studies took them to a deeper hole where the water was turbid, or cloudy, probably from the bottom feeding carp of catfish, and visibility was so poor the diver couldn't see the lure. But he could hear it go past him!

Armed with this idea, the two theorized that if a human could hear the lure under water, even in a diving suit, than a fish could certainly hear it far better and from much further away. So they set out to design a lure on this principle. "They excitedly reported their theory at a research meeting and it touched off a series of underwater experiments with all types of lures." They brought in scientists who taught them that humans are capable of hearing sound cycles from 30 to 15,000 per second, while fish heard vibrations from 35 to 9,000 cycles per second.

Armed with this scientific data, the company's lure design team (headed by an outside consultant) spent a year designing a lure that would vibrate at the optimal cycle for fish -- determined to be between 7000 and 8000 vibrations per second. They settled on a design after lots of trial-and-error, and after months of tank testing took it out on the water in a series of top-secret field tests.

What they discovered is that the lure took fish in weather and water conditions where other lures would not. As Homer concluded, "Thus did science, research and a lot of hard work produce another item for a fisherman's tackle box which will bring him pleasure--and fish--during this season and for years to come. Proving that good lures, like fishermen, are not simply born, they're made."

The following month the lure was launched with one of the most impressive advertisement campaigns in all of modern tackle history. It went on to be one of the best sellers for the firm's history, and one of its best fish catchers, too.

Can you guess what lure Homer Circle wrote about, but couldn't mention for another month? Hint: it was a HUGE seller. Click here for the answer.

I'll post a bit more about the history of this interesting lure next week.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dr. Todd's Election Post: 101 Reasons Why You Should Vote

101 Reasons Why You Should Vote

by Dr. Todd E.A. Larson

There are many reasons to vote in the upcoming election, but I take exception to the idea that you must vote this election day because of the magnitude of the event. Sure, the upcoming presidential election is important, but so is every single election day. The argument that you simply have to vote on Nov. 04 implies that in some years you can be excused for taking the day off, so to speak, from the electoral process.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is imperative that you vote in every election, whether it is local, state or national—including this coming Tuesday. And if you need a reason, I’ll give you 101 of them.

(1) Vote because you love your nation.

(2) Vote because you’re disenchanted with your country.

(3) Vote because if you don’t, someone else’s vote has more power than it should.

(4) Vote because hundreds of thousands of men and women have died for your right to exercise your political freedoms.

(5) Vote because your mother and father did, and you honor them (and their memory) at the ballot box.

(6) Vote because you want change.

(7) Vote because you want to keep the status quo.

(8) Vote because if you don’t, you will never have the right to complain.

(9) Vote because the Ancient Greeks coined the word “idiot” to denote someone not interested in the political affairs of the nation.

(10) Vote because there are people who actively don’t want you to.

(11) Vote because there are people who work tirelessly (and for free) to make voting easier.

(12) Vote because it’s the only remedy for an ailing nation.

(13) Vote because no one can tell you whom to vote for.

(14) Vote because, as elections past and present constantly teach us, every vote counts.

(15) Vote because no one will vote for you.

(16) Vote because it makes you feel good.

(17) Vote because the billions of American that have voted in the past can’t be wrong.

(18) Vote because you’re a rebel.

(19) Vote because “conservative,” “liberal,” “red state” and “blue state” are loaded terms that no longer have any real meaning.

(20) Vote because somewhere, someone with a completely opposite viewpoint is voting.

(21) Vote because somewhere, someone with the exact same political vision is voting.

(22) Vote for the millions of Americans that never got the chance.

(23) Vote because people you don’t know and will never meet are depending on you.

(24) Vote because it’s your first election.

(25) Vote because it’s your fortieth election.

(26) Vote to celebrate what is good and right in the world.

(27) Vote to fix what is bad and wrong in the world.

(28) Vote today because no one is promised tomorrow.

(29) Vote because the road to ruination is paved with apathy.

(30) Vote because you’re tired of being part of the problem.

(31) Vote because it is uplifting to be a part of the solution.

(32) Vote because the children are watching.

(33) Vote because the world is watching.

(34) Vote to protect your constitutional rights.

(35) Vote because no matter what candidate you choose, we all wake up the next morning as Americans, united in our democratic tradition and stronger than we were the day before.

(36) Vote to end poverty.

(37) Vote to end hunger and disease.

(38) Vote to promote equality.

(39) Vote because there is NOTHING more anti-American than accusing someone of being anti-American because they disagree with you.

(40) Vote for every person anywhere who lives in a dictatorship and can’t vote.

(41) Vote because it is the only check and balance we have against tyranny.

(42) Vote because we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

(43) Vote so that your voice can be heard.

(44) Vote because one person can change the world.

(45) Vote because many people voting together can change history.

(46) Vote because it’s the American way, and that still stands for something.

(47) Vote to honor the memory of a loved one.

(48) Vote because you’re passionate.

(49) Vote because you’re a bit of a cold fish.

(50) Vote because you like Fox News.

(51) Vote because you hate Fox News.

(52) Vote because you have a choice.

(53) Vote because when you stand in the voting booth no one in America has more power than you.

(54) Vote because the opportunity to exercise this political power doesn’t come along very often.

(55) Vote because it makes you feel like an adult.

(56) Vote because it fills you with the wonderment of a child.

(57) Vote because it’s easy.

(58) Vote because it wasn’t always easy.

(59) Vote because the weather’s good.

(60) Vote because the weather’s bad.

(61) Vote to protect the right of free speech, even for those with views that differ markedly from your own.

(62) Vote because the media is saying your candidate won’t win.

(63) Vote because the media is saying your candidate will win.

(64) Vote because you should never, ever let the media tell you whom to vote for.

(65) Vote because you’re a member of a political party.

(66) Vote because you’re independent.

(67) Vote because the ballot box does not care about your age, color, gender, religious affiliation, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation.

(68) Vote because it’s your right.

(69) Vote because it’s your duty.

(70) Vote because it’s your obligation.

(71) Vote because you ran for class treasurer back in the sixth grade, and discovered you weren’t as popular as you thought you were.

(72) Vote to defend your nation from those implacable foes who seek to destroy it.

(73) Vote to celebrate our broad, diverse and inclusive culture.

(74) Vote because whom you vote for is nobody’s business but your own.

(75) Vote because your mother would be disappointed if you didn’t.

(76) Vote because the environment can’t

(77) Vote because someone else won’t.

(78) Vote because you get a free sticker that says “I Voted Today.”

(79) Vote because it’s cool (dorky Hollywood PSAs not withstanding).

(80) Vote because politics is not a game or a popularity contest.

(81) Vote to punish incompetent and corrupt politicians wherever they run.

(82) Vote because when you do, you become another thread holding together the patchwork quilt of American democracy.

(83) Vote because the local sports team won.

(84) Vote because the local sports team lost.

(85) Vote even if the local sports team is the Cincinnati Bengals.

(86) Vote because, with the exception of acts of God, there are no valid excuses for not voting.

(87) Vote because if you do, everything will be all right (eventually).

(88) Vote to show the world the system still works.

(89) Vote because of what might happen if you don’t.

(90) Vote because you’ve thought it out logically, and not because of fear or other base human instincts that negative advertising seeks to inculcate.

(91) Vote because as an American you are never alone.

(92) Vote because it leaves a fresh, minty aftertaste in your mouth.

(93) Vote to stick it to the man.

(94) Vote because hope springs eternal.

(95) Vote because there are no lost causes.

(96) Vote because you fought the good fight.

(97) Vote because history is waiting to judge us all.

(98) Vote because the idea of one person = one vote is worth dying for.

(99) Vote because you can.

(100) Vote because you should.

(101) Vote just because.

Just VOTE.

-- Dr. Todd (Cincinnati, OH)

Monday, October 27, 2008

News of the Week: 27 October 2008

British angler lands record carp named Scar...your new electric car may one day be powered by electric eels?...recycling monofilament...Kim Bain qualifies for the Bassmaster Classic...a review of a new film on Hardy...a Knoxville man becomes a luremaker...Texan lands a piranha...a new fly rod company...a teacher instructs his students on fly must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: A British angler catches a world record carp named Scar...and its as ugly as you think it would be.

How the electric eel might just be powering your electric car one day.

The Shasta Mayflies is paving the way for other female flyfishers.

Monofilament madness -- its catching!

Some invasive species in Florida have been around for 50 years or more.

Kim Bain becomes the first woman to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.

Surf casters love their surf bags.

These are unhappy times at one Florida tackle shop as its owner passes away tragically.

The spotted sea trout is starting to steal the spotlight.

Remember your first fish? This program seeks to get kids fishing and create a lifetime of memories.

A review of the new documentary "The Lost World of Mr. Hardy," about the great British tackle maker.

This Knoxville man is living the dream of becoming a tackle maker.

The muskies of Milwaukee's Lake Pewaukee.

Researchers try to find out what happened to the salmon.

This Texan lands a 6 1/2 pound piranha!

The story on a new rodbuilding concern: Slate Creek Fly Rods.

Finishing with a Flourish: This teacher instructs his students in the art of fly fishing.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Poll Results: What do you primarily collect?

Sunday Poll Results: What do you primarily collect?

Another Sunday poll with really surprising results! The question was what you primarily collect, and the answers I have to admit shocked me a bit. The unsurprising part: 70% of collectors are into the old classics, wooden lures (likely with glass eyes). Also not surprising is that 40% are into fishing reels.

But what did surprise me is that Paper & Ephemera was at 20%, meaning one out of five collectors polled actively look for catalogs, ads, etc. If you add the 13% that collect fishing books, you have a really nice segment of the collector world who are into paper. I was frankly surprised. Also making a strong showing was bobbers, at 13% or roughly one of eight.

The one mistake I made in the poll was not to include fly rod lures. Next time I run this, I will make certain to include this category.

The full results of the poll are here:

Make sure to vote in the new poll this week!

-- Dr. Todd

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Fishing for Arapaima in Thailand looks like fun...

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This guy sure did his homework on this Kopf reel.

A Bing's Nemahbin Minnow from Milwaukee is a scarce bait....

That would look pretty nice next to this box.

Somebody hit the motherload with this tackle box...It's the reels, right? It's got to be the reels.

This 1990 Winston Rod has attracted a ton of interest.

Here is an ultra rare lure and box combo: the Like Live Bait Co. No. 6 in the box.

This 1904 Rhodes Minnow Lure Box is a great, great find.

A Fin Nor #4 fly reel is always a great reel to use and collect...and not every auction gets a long message from the former president of the AMFF to go along with it.

This is a nice affordable combo of a classic workhorse reel: the Pflueger Templar.

What an awesome Doug English Bingo lure.

16 Rebels NIB -- for fishing or collecting? You make the call.

Chipmunk crawlers in the box are a popular Heddon bait.

How cool is this Jersey rigged South Bend Nite Luminous Surf Oreno?

We don't get much opportunity to feature the Outing Getum lures, because they don't show up very often.

This is a great Heddon Chugger in natural striper.

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

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Review: Changing Planes by Kathy Scott

Thursday Review: Changing Planes by Kathy Scott

Kathy Scott, author of Moose on the Water, Bamboo on the Bench, is back with her third book on rodmaking, angling, and life in the Great White North. Changing Planes is both a metaphorical title and an apt description of the book's contents. It chronicles a year in the life of the Scott family, including her rodmaking companion David, her beloved dog Kodiak, and a host of characters great and small from Michigan to Nova Scotia.

What this book is about is a matter of perspective. Some of the most endearing passages, and those that will certainly interest a large number of fishermen, deal with her first attempt to build a split bamboo fly rod. On this theme, Scott accomplishes the exceptionally difficult task of making the technical aspects of rodmaking both interesting and understandable. Most of all she makes it sound fun.

In a sense, then, this is also a book about fly fishing, and it is certainly true that the dedicated fly angler will find much to enjoy. From the joys of fishing a split cane fly rod to her restrained descriptions of Atlantic salmon fishing in Canada, one is never more than a few pages from the water, so to speak, even if it is a frozen beaver pond in the dead of a Maine winter.

But what I think this book is really about is Nature. Like other great writers of this genre, Scott makes Nature (with a capital "N") into a living, breathing character. Thus, the narrative is framed by the passing of the seasons--by life and death and by birth and renewal. You will follow the author as she experiences sorrow and loss just as you will as she finds joy and happiness. The book--like our most seamless days--ebbs and flows naturally.

From this perspective, Changing Planes is mostly about Scott's search for that most elusive of all human things: contentment. For Scott, as it should be for all of us, contentment is not defined as satisfaction with the status quo, but rather as being happy with who you are and what you stand for as a person. It is about finding your groove, from the planing bench to your circle of friends to the cosmos at large. Whether it is her passion for conservation that leads her to take an executive post with the local Trout Unlimited chapter, her ebullient appreciation for the skill and patience required to make a fine split bamboo fly rod, or the simple joy that comes from the contented sigh of a happy pet, one gets the feeling that her metaphysical quest was not in vain.

You'll learn along the way about such things as overlooked rodmaking legend Charlie Wheeler, about the problems facing the Atlantic Salmon, and as with all of her writings, about the tight-knit community of contemporary bamboo rodmakers. But most of all, you'll hear an author who has found a distinctive voice and for whom life (and writing) now comes naturally.

Changing Planes is one of those books you will put down only with the most contented of sighs.

Changing Planes ($24.95) is available in hardcover from the Alder Creek Press, as are all of Kathy's books. Their home page is

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dr. Todd's Mailbag: 22 October 2008

Dr. Todd's Mailbag

It's been some time since I ran the mailbag, and it's not because of lack of questions. Lots going on so some things have to be put on the back burner, but I will try and make it a monthly feature as it is a lot of fun. Here it is:


I seen the guys talking about Hi Quality Montague on ORCA and always wanted to know about this one like Year? Rare? etc any help would be appreciated. It has the little oval with fish and Montague OFFSHORE written in oval.


Dear Bruce,

After having consulted with my great friends, the esteemed Montague historians Jim Garrett and Skip Brooks, I think I can give some information on this reel.

There are two possibilities with this reel. First, it may be a very late Montague/Ocean City reel dating from 1932-1934. When Montague discontinued their trade line in 1930 they inaugurated a series of reels marked with this same Montague oval and using traditional Montague fishing rod names (Fishkill, Rapidan, etc.). This was continued for a short time after Ocean City purchased the firm in 1933.

The second option, and far more likely in our opinion, is that what you have is a hybrid saltwater model constructed after Ocean City had purchased Edward vom Hofe in 1940. Garrett and Brooks have seen other reels with similar vom Hofe-type footplates as this, but clearly an Ocean City product. That they would use a traditional Montague rod name is not surprising; what is a bit of a shock is that they put the name Montague to it as well. I believe this is what this reel is.

-- Dr. Todd

Dr. Todd,

I hope this note finds you well. I was watching eBay the other day and saw a Johnson reel marked "Shy Poke" sell for a lot of money. Do you have any information about this trade name? Thanks! T.B.

Dear T.B.,

I saw that auction as well, and the one that followed it showing a Bronson baitcaster marked Shy Poke. Both listed it as coming from a Minneapolis/St. Paul area distributor, and the Johnson was additionally marked "S.M."

I regret to inform you that I don't know who sold Shy Poke tackle. I do know it was available in the late 1950s and 1960s in many, many retail stores in the WI-MN-IA region, so it is likely the distributor was based in the Twin Cities. It was advertised in a number of small retail and department stores in a wide variety of newspapers, including the following ad from The Waterloo Daily Courier on 24 April 1958.

What is known is that Shy Poke was used on rods, reels, and tackle boxes, and likely a host of other items. Anyone with any information on Shy Poke please drop me a note and I'll post an update.

By the way, a Shy Poke is a colloquialism for a Heron--which is why the Shy Poke logo was a circle with a heron in the middle.

-- Dr. Todd

I saw that your poll indicated the economy has not slowed down most collectors in their search for tackle. Do you think this will be true a year from now if the economy keeps tanking? Thanks.

Dave T.

Dear Dave,

An interesting question, but one that requires a huge amount of speculation. I think the majority of collectors love this stuff, and are going to keep collecting regardless of the state of the economy. Of course, it might make you rethink that $5000 purchase, but collectors are a smart group and can make up for it in other ways. I believe we are already seeing the reemergence of the good old-fashioned swap/trade. Many collectors who have never sold a thing are now moving some tough pieces in order to add other tough pieces to their collections. All of this means that tackle that has never been on the market before is now available for the first time.

The bottom line is that tackle collectors will collect tackle, even in tough times.

-- Dr. Todd