It's that time. Another NFLCC Nationals has come and gone, and your intrepid fishing history blogger is here with his eagerly awaited by dozens Nationals Show Report!
What can we say about Nationals that others have not already? Probably nothing, but that won't stop us anyway from opining about the biggest collection of vintage fishing tackle in the world. For those of you who are new to this or who haven't been to a Nationals before, nothing can really prepare you for how overwhelming it is. There is tackle absolutely everywhere, from $1 boards of lures to $10,000 items.
Louisville is a great place for a Nationals show, and hosts Robin & Matt Wickham did a fantastic job, as usual. The registration room was hopping when I got in on Tuesday afternoon, and the first face I saw was the friendly smile of Darwin "the Bomber Man" Stewart. Hey, with a start like that, how could the show be anything but good?
My friend and roommate Steve Lumpkin and I tried to acclimate ourselves to the room trading. Well, the truth is I am a terrible room trader. Every year I make the same mistake. I go to Don Ludy's room first, and when I leave I'm usually broke. No different this year. I did leave with a box full of neat things (check back Thursday for my National finds). But it's pretty hard to room trade when you've only got 10 bucks left in your pocket! So I trudge back to my room to sell some books.
The next morning, the ORCA gang has scheduled a breakfast meeting at 8:00 a.m. I know it's early for guys like Jim Garrett, but we somehow assemble in front of the stated room. Trouble is brewing: it's locked. We are moved to another room; no chairs. It seems like the hotel has it in for reel collectors, but our intrepid president Jim Schottenham makes an executive decision to retire to the bar. Good call! It is familiar territory for many of us, even at 8:00 a.m. We gather around the table as Ed Pritchard, Andy Foster, Tim Bahr and others handle oddball reels.
The rest of the day is spent meeting friends old and new. I was particularly happy, as always, to run into Dick Streater. Dick is a fellow Minnesotan, and as you probably know, we Gophers are thick as thieves.
It's always fun to have your room open, as you never know who's going to wander in. I was delighted when Wayne Mullins came in to show off his collection of B.A.S.S. materials owned by Harold Sharp, B.A.S.S. member #2 (Don Butler was #1). I hope to write something up about this collection in the near future.
One of the neat things about the show was getting to see Joe Hilko's display of Sheridan Jones' fishing tackle, perhaps the finest display of boxed baits ever collected in the early 20th century. Joe recently completed a book on Sheridan Jones, which he launched at the show, and here he is with his table in the lobby.
Thursday morning is always highly anticipated as it means set-up for the show. Steve and myself dragged our tackle, displays and books over to the show early and began setting up. Here is an early shot at the activity on the floor:
I'd never had the pleasure of helping set up a display before, but Steve was generous enough to bring his Millsite collection for everyone to see. It was an awe-inspiring collection containing almost every production piece ever made by Millsite. The nice part was that the Hall family, the relatives of one of Millsite's owners (Rob Word, another relative of the owners, sadly could not be there), were there in force. Since Steve is the author of the new Millsite book--which is now available by the way--it was a wonderful experience seeing how happy everyone was to talk Millsite tackle.
One of the cool things about the show is seeing the kids out on the floor. My wife and daughter were able to come down on Friday, but there were a number of kids around on Thursday, too.
Being stuck behind the table, I was not able to get out and wander the floor as much as I would like. But it has its benefits; I got to talk to many collectors over the course of three days, and its always nice to catch up on what's happening in areas I don't actively collect. The Whitefish Press table seemed to be a nice meeting place, and usually had a couple of people standing around talking. We had the best of neighbors, too, including Dale Dalluhn and his lovely wife on our right, and Gary Smith and Buck Juhasz on the left. Couldn't ask for better neighbors than that!
Perhaps the highlight of the show was getting to cast vintage tackle brought in by Warren Platt and Bill Sonnett, who gave an awesome seminar on the subject Friday afternoon. They set up behind the show on the convention floor, so there was plenty of room to cast.
Bill Sonnett came up to me crowing about his perfect Pflueger Skillcast, so "perfectly tuned it was impossible to backlash." I boldly take the rod out of his hand as BIll instructs me that I don't even have to thumb it, because centrifugal force makes backlashing nigh impossible. Sounds good to me. Bill should have been a Pflueger salesman...
Anyway, I wind up to cast, let fly, and half way through everything goes to hell in a handbasket. I'm staring at a snarl on the Skillcast spool--I have achieved the highest level of jackassery possible. I've backlashed the unbacklashable reel. Confused, I begin pulling line, getting the snarl out, and winding in the line. About ten feet to go, I notice something odd. The casting weight is not on the end of the line. Somehow, in the middle of the cast, the snap swivel came undone and the casting weight flew off. I'm blaming THAT for the backlash, and that's my story. I'm sticking to it.
Later, I borrowed Warren Platt's combo. On the first cast, not only did I hit the bullseye, the casting weight wound around the elevated loop, meaning I actually hooked the target. And yes, I have witnesses for this. I believe that means extra points for me. It was tremendous fun and perhaps next year we can convince Steve Lumpkin to host the NFLCC casting tournament, as he used to do in years past. I look forward to backlashing many other reels.
On Friday evening, the NFLCC held its annual auction. This particular auction was absolutely loaded--it ran almost four hours! Lots of cool stuff, and Jerry McCoy did an awesome job as auctioneer.
There were some really neat pieces for sale, but one of the best was this Pflueger Kent Frog.
Thanks to Steve Lumpkin, we have some results from the NFLCC Auctions:
Pair of Shakespeare/Rhodes Minnows - Torpedo & 5 Hook $80
Shakespeare 5-Hook Underwater Minnow $100
Heddon Killer Wooden Minnow 5-Hook in Sienna Crakleback $450
Pair of Paw Paw Croakers (frog skin) 1-Casting, 1 Fly Rod $325
Winchester Multi Wobbler in Silver Scale w/Original Early Box $325
Charmer Minnow in Orange w/Green Stripes $450
Ted Williams Bamboo Ocean Rod w/Original Case $45
Orvis 6' Bamboo Spinning Rod w/bag & tube $210
Fenwick 4'9" "Classic Glass" Fiberglass Spinning Rod $35
Heddon Ice Spook Spearing Decoy $450
Penn 14/0 Split-Rim Deep Sea Trolling Reel $270
Brass Hardy Fly Reel $130
6 Heddon Wood Vamps $80
Bleeder Bait in box with Papers and Blood Tablets $190
J. A. Coxe "Do-All" Casting Reel $30
Winnie's Stump Dodger in Box $850
Old Copper Minnow Bucket made by Roy B. Dye in 1920's $400
Hungry Jack in original box $500
6 Paul Bunyan Weavers in plastic box $20
9 Abu Hi-Lo Lures in plastic box $70
Shakespeare Double Sided Advertising Sign $65
Kellog bamboo rod $50
Abercrombie & Fitch fiberglass spinning rod w/bag $130
Original Evinrude Tin Advertising Sign $250
Pair of Heddon 150 & 100 Minnows in green crackleback $130
TOMORROW: The Displays!
-- Dr. Todd