Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Photo Essay on Ans. B. Decker Boxes, by Tim Clancy

Today we are all fortunate to have a guest author here on the blog, Tim Clancy. You may remember Tim from his very interesting essay on his Lang's experience. Here, he illuminates one of his passions: Ans. B. Decker history.

Ans. B. Decker and his father and three brothers were all well known fishing guides on Lake Hopatcong, a huge resort beginning in the early 1880's and they were guiding and fishing artificial baits that early.  I personally believe that all early aluminum prop rotaries (Harkauf, Jacob Mick, Manhattan, etc) are likely of Decker manufacturer and just marketed by the other.  I don't think it was until the big companies like Heddon, Pflueger & Shakespeare, started copying his baits that he made a big point of promoting his name.

Here is a chronological listing of the known Decker boxes:

Most common of the Decker boxes, the Yellow folded picture box was used from 1915 until company ended in the mid 1930's

Brown Label Picture Box used from 1913-15

Both size Decker Grand Prize Bait (AKA Loving Cup Box) boxes, used in 1912 only

Recently found and earliest Decker Box known, possibly as early as 1907

Previously thought to be the earliest Decker box, dates from 1910 & 1911

Comparison of the two early Decker Blue Boxes. Larger Patent Applied for w/ Lake Hopatcong address is the earliest I'm aware of and predates 1910

Six different Decker boxes

All dates determined from various advertisements in early outdoor magazines and tackle catalogs.

One known box I don't have and would pay dearly for is the Decker Troller Box (it's about the size of an Al Foss early Tin).  Also don't know how the Decker Wobbler spoon was marketed, but I suspect on a card, would step up for that one also. 

I would also like to know from your bloggers if anyone else has an example of earliest box.  I knew this one was there for several years and never pursued it because I said I have the blue white label box, don't need another. Ran into the guy at a local auction and asked "does your box say Brooklyn or Lake Hopatcong on it?" He didn't remember and sent me a pic...and it was [soon] in my collection looking out on Lake Hopatcong with all it's siblings.

My many thanks to Tim for this most informative and interesting photo essay! I'd like to encourage anyone else who'd like to share information to drop me a note.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Worst Packaging Job Ever, Redux

Worst Packaging Job Ever, Redux

Awhile back, I posted about the worst packaging job I had ever seen. On a number of boards as well as by email, this post received a lot of interesting commentary. I've culled them for some of the best (or is it worst?) packaging stories around.
Some of the stories certainly exceeded my own in both damage and shocking negligence.

For example, a poster identified only as Basscaster declared:

I had a UPS guy deliver 2 Loomis crankbait rods to Menards where they were taken out of [the] tubes and stolen. I actually went up to front desk to get [the] rods and the manager would not let me talk to the delivery guys in back. I also had a 7 ft. bass rod packed in 3 triangle boxes taped together. Rod came broke in half with boxes barely attached together.

Ouch. Rods seemed to be a popular subject. Tom Eidson reported on a "Five Foot Bamboo Rod in a 4'10" Box." As he noted:

As you might expect rod became a 4 ft 10 rod. Seller's reply was duh!!!

Jason G. reported another ridiculous packaging job:

I bought a dealer carton of The Hooker lures. There were several lures new in their boxes. The dealer carton was printed up to look like a big treasure chest. They put tape all over the dealer carton and used it as the shipping box.

A similar experience befell Phil White, who reported a number of horrifying experiences, but this may be the worst of all:

One story I forgot was the one about the reel in box that I bought on eBay. The seller put the reel back in the original box, taped it up and put the label on the reel box and sent it to me. Really nice!

Lest we might think that was an isolated incident, Jeff Kieny is here to prove us wrong:

I once received a lure that I had paid Priority Mail w/ insurance on arrive in a very thin, used, cheap cardboard box about 8"x8"x8", shipped first class with no insurance. But the real story is the lure had been dropped into the box with NO PACKING MATERIALS OF ANY KIND ANYWHERE! Simply nothing - Rattling around completely loose inside was JUST the lure. Amazing...

Seriously, that could not be more ridiculous if you tried. Unless, of course, you were getting a box of reels like poor Terry:

I have had some of the worst packing jobs ever... lures that arrived today were jammed into their boxes, hooks jabbing, unprotected into the paint... and then sent in a large box, with not quite enough packing to keep them from doing damage. I have had this several times before , and also with expensive reels last month. 1 light bubble wrap , poorly covering the reels in a box with virtually no packing...all reels banging together!

Reels seem to be difficult for some people to handle. As Bill in Florida found out:

I bought a lot of @15 reels off ebay once , they were just put in a box with NO packing material , by the time they arrived about half had broken parts and all were very dinged up . Most of the time everything is packed well and arrives in one piece.

Ken Vick from the great state of Arkansas had a unique experience:

The very worst was a lure from the other place was a lure I purchased. The box was big enough to put a basketball in there was one lure no packing just rattleing around in the box no nothing but lure Think I was charged 5.80 for shipping and handling Guess it cost to sling the darn thing in the Box!!! Oh Well it got here at least!!!

Wesley Ooms had a terrible experience that has likely never been repeated:

Bought a group of 12-15 baits, including an early Pflueger Wizard and a Heddon Killer. Gave instructions to carefully wrap each bait separately. Needless to say . . . ...the baits arrived in a box. A METAL box, and all of the baits gnarled in a ball of treble festooned barbs. No packing, no padding, just baits bouncing around.

Lucky Mike Hall had lightning strike twice:

Had a guy...send me a Paw Paw fly on a card in only an envelope, it arrived smashed. I let him know about it, he sent another the same way. Smashed again.

Even fly rod lures are not immune, as Chris Diestel reported:

A nice lot of fly baits(Heddon tied leg pop eye frog being one) shipped buy themselves in a regular envelope. It was a nice collection of hooks and cork dust. I think an eye survived.

Perhaps the most fragile of all tackle items are bottles, as Dean Smith reported:

The worst packaging of a tackle related item I ever received was a bottle of reel oil in a bubble wrap envelope. When the mailman handed it to me the envelope was leaking. Not a good sign.

No indeed. But be careful about whom you blame, as Wendy, a former carrier, declared. She helps us to understand where the anger should be directed:

I can't tell you how many pathetic packing jobs I'd delivered back when I was a Carrier (a.k.a. "Street Walker").
I truly COMMEND you ALL for going to the sources with your grievances!!!

You would NOT believe how much hollering and shouting aimed at the mailman goes on when one of these "gems" gets delivered! Honestly, mailmen usually have a 'sneak up on house, drop and run' attitude when one of these messes needs delivered---to spare themselves the tirades.

Worst is come Christmas time. What possesses people to mail ceramic ornaments in white envelopes, and think all will be well because they stuck a stamp on it and wrote "Fragile"??
I, too, have had the white envelope with tell-tale (bent!!) hooks sticking out of it. Have posted before about the dreaded bubble wrap envelopes. Had the pile of lures mailed in a box with nothing else, opened to play the game of "Barrel of Monkeys" with fishing lures.

Mark Scearce had a different kind (but still valid) grievance:

I too have one to add, I purchased a jointed musky bait off the web. Waiting with child like energy for this thing to arrive. When it did, not only was it the wrong bait, the treble hooks were wraped very well in electrical tape. On a hot day! It took me 30 minutes to cut, rip and tear all the tape off all the while getting hooked by the newly freed barbs. Then additional time spend getting glue off the hook barbs. When large amounts of money are spent as you gentlemen have done could surely add to the joys of mail orders. Mr. Yates your page is a huge blessing on many levels.

So apparently my horrible packaging job was not unique, although this is certainly a club you don't want to join!

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, December 29, 2008

News of the Week: 29 December 2008

Kyle vs. the Giant's that time for boat and fishing shows...angling for memories...what is fishing's future?...big fish come from bad weather...the skinny about fishing themed t-shirts...angling in Madagascar...metalheads return to the Windy City...a Lefty Kreh book...the history of the Like Like Lure must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: The tale of Kyle versus the Giant Squid.

It's boat and tackle show time!

British saltwater anglers are up in arms over proposed quota plans.

For one Missouri writer, when Old Man Winter comes, the angler goes.

The Byron Press isangling for memories.

What is fishing's future and your role in it?

One angler gets a monster reward for braving the elements.

The last time we'll mention the ASA's Top 10 Fishing Inventions.

From Canada comes a Christmas fish story.

An article themed t-shirts???

Britain's Daily Express goes Madagascar???

In Albert Lea, MN, anglers are flocking to ice fishing.

Metalheads are returning to Chicago...

This 86 year old angler is still fishing strong.

Another review of the Lefty Kreh book.

The Denver Post reviews Cast-Off Cabin, a fishing-themed getaway.

Finishing With a Flourish: A neat history of the Life Like Company, makers of rubber fishing lures (among other things).

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Poll Result: Where do you get your tackle?

The Sunday Poll Results: Where do you get your tackle?

Not too much surprised me about this week's poll. It turns out that the majority of collectors get their tackle from a variety of sources, with eBay leading the way (7 out of 10 responses) and Joe's Board (2/3 polled) getting tackle from these venues. I did find it moderately interesting that only about half of those who responded find tackle these days in the field; I bet a decade ago this would have been closer to 90%. But times change, as evidenced also by the fact fewer than a quarter participate in trades.

Thanks to everyone who responded and don't forget to vote in this week's poll!

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 27, 2008

UNID Files #12: The Case of the Early English

UNID Files #12: The Case of the Early English

Wayne LeBoeuf of New Braunfels, Texas send me the following email and pictures:

In the early seventies, my father, brother and I were guided by Rudy Grigar in the Galveston area. Rudy gave me two handmade baits that I thought he had made. After purchasing the book, PLUGGER, and reading a bit of it and doing some research, I think these baits look more like Doug English colors. They're made out of hard, white plastic and appear to be hand molded.

So, my Texas friends, are these early Doug English hand molded lures? The colors ARE reminiscent of English lures, but perhaps someone out there can ID them for Wayne. He can be reached at wjleboeuf AT att DOT net.

-- Dr. Todd

Inspirational Poster of the Week

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

A shark that can HURL ITS MOUTH AT YOU and REEL YOU IN LIKE A FROG'S TONGUE. That is all.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This awesome Ed. vom Hofe fly reel in the leather case would make a terrific holiday gift!

Have you ever seen a W.D. Chapman 4-sided minnow for sale before? Me neither.

There are some nice creels for sale this week, including this A&F model.

And this Joseph Schnell wicker creel...

A Heddon #700 has attracted a great deal of bidding interest.

A Heddon #200 Reliable bamboo casting rod is a true classic.

This Fenwick Lunkerstick 2000 fiberglass casting rod is a fantastic rod.

A 1964 Hardy Featherweight Fly Reel will make a fly angler very happy.

Here is a pair of Heddon Smokey Joe Punkinspins new in the box.

This Penn International TRQ300 is a great big game fishing reel.

This neat Fred Divine fly rod and custom form will sell for a pretty price, despite the fact the seller doesn't know how to spell Divine properly.

A Gar Wood Fin Nor #3 spinning reel is one of the finest ever made.

I really love Pikaroons, especially when the come new in the box.

A Merrill Booth ice spearing decoy is a neat piece of folk art.

I have never seen this configuration on an old handforged eel spear.

Here's a neat doo-dad: a marked thumb bar for a vintage Meisselbach casting reel.

Here's a nice 1934 Connecticut non-resident angling license button.

A cool A&F Puma fishing knife will find a neat home.

Instant Collection Alert: Lot of 5 vintage Meek & Milam fishing reels.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend, and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Fishing for History!

A very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and overall glad tidings to everyone in this holiday season! We re-run our Christmas poem from last year today. Enjoy!

My apologies to Clement Clark Moore for butchering his classic, but I could not let the holidays pass without a shot at rewriting his beloved poem, with a fishing theme...

An Angler's Christmas

butchered by Dr. Todd

'Twas the night before Christmas and all across the lake
Not a creature was stirring, not even a snake
The stockings were hung in the cabin with care
In hopes they'd be filled with bugs made of deer hair

This angler was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of Pfluegers danced in my head;
Shakespeares and Heddons both old and brand new
All served to disrupt my long winter's snooze,

When down on the dock there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Worried about my Big O's in mint silver flash,
I tore open the door to investigate the splash.

The light reflecting from the nearly full moon
Gave the lustre of mid-day to my Dardevle spoons,
When, what to my shock down the hill should appear,
But a Skeeter bass boat filled with reindeer!
And a portly old fisherman, so lively and quick,
I saw it was the angler we knew as St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his reindeer disembarked,
And he whistled, and shouted, their names he did hark:
"Now, Bagley! now, Paw Paw! now, Norman and Zebco!
On, Arnold! on Rebel! on Jamison and Nebco!
To the top of the steps! to the end of the dock!
Then on to the shore, my grazing herd flock!"

As dry flies that before the stiffest breeze fly,
When they meet with the wind and blow in the sky,
So along the dock the bounders they flew,
Followed by the boat full of tackle, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the shore
Their prancing and pawing and reindeer like roar.
As I drew in my breath, and was turning around,
Up the steps St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in B.A.S.S. gear from head to foot,
And his Ranger Boats cap was blackened with soot;
A bundle of rods he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a trout bum just opening his pack.

But his eyes, they twinkled, his smile was so merry!
His hooks were all sharp, his reels were so cherry!
His Orvis fly rod was as lithe as a bow,
And his hand tied streamer whiter than snow;
A piece of his leader he held tight in his teeth,
And the rest of his line lay coiled like a wreath;

St. Nick the Angler adjusted his belly,
And it flubbered around like a worm made of jelly.
But despite his big girth he could handle a rod
And he had taken his share, in spite of his bod
He slipped in the house with nary a word
As I stared in disbelief at his grazing deer herd.

St. Nick got to work, and with a nod of his face
He gave his approval of my piscatorial cache
He spoke not a word, and went straight to his work,
Filling the stockings with baits made to jerk,
Arbogasts, Helins, Spoonplugs and Skinners
Bass Pro, Cabelas, and multi-blade spinners
The stockings were soon just bursting with treasure
And he threw in a Winston, just for good measure

Then laying his finger aside of his head,
He gave me a nod, and down the steps he fled;
Into his boat he jumped, with its promo decals
And he puttered off out of sight to fish with his pals

But I heard him exclaim, as he trolled out of sight,
"Good fishing to all, and to all anglers, a good-night!"

Merry Christmas!

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An Australian Prototype Reel, by Wayne Real

This week my Australian mate Wayne Real has kindly contributed a nifty article on a home-made Australian fishing reel. It clearly shows that ingenuity is not unique to just the Western Hemisphere! The native Australian Alvey reels have had quite a reputation for many years. This is a great article and we can all thank Wayne for his contribution! You can check out his exhaustive web site on all things ABU and Ambassadeur by Clicking Here.

An Australian Prototype Reel, by Wayne Real

This fine one off sidecast reel was handcrafted in the Ipswich Railway Workshops (Queensland Australia) over 50 years ago.

The chrome plated rolled brass back suggests early 50's.  But you can never be 100% certain. 

The strong Y on the back of the reel is unique. I've actually seen the same Y pattern on a timber back reel, most likely from the 1930's era, so I'm not certain where they were getting that pattern from.

Essentially the reel was crafted to emulate the famous Alvey Sidecast reels made in Brisbane, Queensland but at almost nil cost to the guys making them.

The guys weren't cheeky enough to place the Alvey name on the reel!

I believe initially the motivation may have been to create a reel just as good as Alvey, using one's collective group initiative, skills and resources.

Clearly they were a group of different people with different skills and were able to collect scrap materials.

The story goes that the reels took several weeks to complete and as people swapped in and out and experiences evolved, the reels became progressively better.

I am reliably informed that as these similar but stronger reels starting appearing on the black market, they were soon put out of business.

It is up for speculation whether this clamp down came from Alvey themselves or the internal QGR checks but the several dozens that were made, all usually a little different, were soon to become quite collectable.

The  stages of production were involved from sourcing timber and turning spool and handles, as well as cutting rolling pressing stainless steel plate and rod, copper shims, spring steel wire for tensioners etc. etc. Certainly a complicated process!

The wife of the old gentleman who owned it (maybe created even it?) amusingly remarked that the only item/material  not able to be sourced or created in the QGR workshops was the monofilament of the day!

For a student of piscatorial history such as yourself and your readers, I guess this recollection will be of great interest and shows something of the Aussie streak of ingenuity which I fear is fast disappearing in our sleek glossy hi-tech world we live in today.

If any reader has a similar rare  ABU item of interest to me, I could be convinced to do a trade mate. I never sell any reel but do swap for like value objects that I am looking for.

Tight lines,

Wayne Real

Thanks Wayne! A neat piece and a really cool history behind it.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Voices from the Past: Fish Eating Strawberries 1920s

Voices from the Past: Fish Eating Strawberries

Ran across this blurb in a 1920s newspaper (The Philadelphia Record) and thought it was funny.

Fish Picks Strawberries

Fred Vosen, fishing in the Lee reservoir, heard on shore a noise that he at first supposed was made by a muskrat, but on investigation it proved to be a big carp.

He watched the fish for some minutes, and says that along the shore strawberries hung over the water, a distance from 4 to 10 inches from the surface, and he was surprised to see the big fish bobbing its head out of the water and grabbing the berries. He watched the carp repeat the operation a dozen times. He then tried his bait and succeeded in hooking the fish, but had to shoot it before he could land it. The carp weighed 32 pounds.

So, what's the weirdest thing you've ever known a fish to eat?

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, December 22, 2008

News of the Week: 22 December 2008

The NFLCC's very own Jeff Kieny gets profiled...more on the layoffs at Winston...big fish like big lures (and apparently so do bikini models)...tackle for Christmas is everywhere...all things Coelacanth...a musky man who knows all the tricks...the bad economy is helping fishing tackle boom in Taiwan...the truth about the Gator Trout...lunker catfish--from a casting pond???...Latvians love fishing gear...following in the (big) footsteps of Papa Hemingway...two Kiwis invent a new fishing must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Jeff Kieny's Patented Fish Hooks, Harnesses & Bait-Holders gets some publicity courtesy of The Kansas City Star.

Woman catches-then-releases state record black drum.

More on the layoffs at Winston...

The best anonymous gift ever: a Jim Schaaf bamboo rod and Bill Ballan reel.

Still struggling with last minute shopping? Rob Doherty argues that a fishing rod is the perfect gift for Christmas.

Science finally proves that Big Fish like Big Lures. So do bikini models, apparently.

(Hey don't blame me, it's their photo--not mine).

From the Living Fossil Files: all things Coelacanth.

Fishermen flock to Tuna Mania.

Tampa Bay Online says that the best present for Christmas is daylight fishing.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiles a muskie maniac who knows all the tricks.

Even in Wales they give tips for tackle buying gifts for the angler in your life.

In Taiwan, the economic downturn has caused the fishing tackle industry to boom.

The Fergus Falls Daily Journal details 40 years of ice fishing on Otter Tail and Battle Lake.

A Fly Angler breaks the Florida state record for pompano.

Dispelling myths about "Gator Trout."

From the Gotta Like Those Pros File: Female elite anglers lands 22 pound catfish. Out of a casting pond.

U.S. Reel gets a new marketing team.

Australian fishing champ is all about the Yamaha.

The Payson Roundup declares the fishing rod a quality gift.

For the Latvian in your life: fishing tackle makes a fine Christmas gift.

What's new in ice fishing gizmos?

The Pahrump Valley Times chronicles one man's quest to follow in the footsteps of Papa Hemingway.

Finishing with a Flourish: A pair of Kiwis have invented a new fishing reel.

-- Dr. Todd