Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week
Jeff Patterson lands great white on fly rod...

Things I Would Buy If I Could Only Afford Them
Wilson Wobblers are always nice, but especially in a neat color like this!

Surprise! This Pflueger lure in the box is one of the nicest things on eBay this week.

This 7'6" Hardy Marvel is a fine, fine bamboo rod.

Holy toledo, this is a fantabulous Jack Welch hand-made tournament casting reel!

This Marble's Fish Grabber pat. 1900 is a good find.

Shine, Green and Yellow Glow Worm, glimmer, glimmer, as bidder hopes get dimmer, dimmer...

I have to say, this is a pretty cool folk art carved 1920s catfish.

Here's a weird one--the Norris Jet Squid saltwater bait.

This Hardy 9' CC De France isn't in the most coveted length, but is still a very nice fly rod.

A nifty Heddon Spin Diver in Green Crackle Back is going to make some bidder very, very happy.

Ah yes! The Bingo Pluggin' Shorty is a nifty, nifty Texas bait.

The Jay Harvey by Ed. K. Tryon is one of the coolest of the 4-Screw Montague casting reels.

A J.A. Coxe L.A. reel dated 1924 is a very early one.

The Creek Chub Bug Wiggler is a really beautiful lure.

Who doesn't love the South Bend Tarp Oreno?

The Heddon 6-Pack box for the Stanley Pork Rind lure is a neat piece of advertising.

This Lake City Shiner is a very rare Florida made bait.

The Hastings Weedless Frog in the box is a super rare combo.

A pair of Storm Bug Plugs has attracted a lot of interest of late.

Billed as the "finest reel you've never heard of," this Chuyu 3400 saltwater reel certainly looks like a solid reel.

This Creek Chub Giant Injured Minnow is exactly that, a giant.

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

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Review: Colby Sorrells' Flyfisher's Guide to the Texas Gulf Coast (2009)

Thursday Review: Colby Sorrells' Flyfisher's Guide to the Texas Gulf Coast (2009)

Growing up on the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I guess I consider myself fortunate to have been near so many diverse waters (Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, etc.). But the diversity of the Great White North simply pales in comparison to the sheer variety of fishing available along the Texas Gulf Coast. A beautiful new book by NFLCC Secretary/Treasurer Colby Sorrells, Flyfisher's Guide to the Texas Gulf Coast: the Flats and Off Shore (Belgrade, MT: Wilderness Press, 2009), brought this point home loud and clear.

Another in a series of the popular "Flyfisher's Guide to..." by Wilderness Press, this book has all of the merits of the other books in the series, with the added bonus of having an author who really and truly knows his stuff. I own a few of these guides, and have looked over several others, and they are certainly nice looking books, but few of them have the feeling of authority that this one does. This is because Sorrells has written widely on the topic for over two decades, and more importantly, he's fished most of the waters that he writes about.

An example of the kind of experience and authority I'm talking about can be seen in the brief section on sharks. "I have an agreement with sharks," Sorrells writes. "I don't fish for them and they don't fish for me. If you get into an area where the sharks are taking your catch either on the line or on the stringer, MOVE. Let the sharks have the water. There are plenty of places to fish without having to deal with sharks." Although less than a paragraph (and in this day and age, being concise should be celebrated), it's the most pragmatic and best advice I've ever read on sharks for the fly angler.

The book is divided into convenient sections. The first covers gamefish likely to be fished for by the fly angler, ranging from the popular (tarpon and snook) to the less well known (sand trout). Then there are geographical sections covering the different places and kinds of fishing along the Gulf Coast (Sabine Lake, Galveston, Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay, Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay, Upper Lagunda Madre, Lower Lagunda Madre, and Offshore). Each of these covers a wealth of details on the type of fish, methods of catching them, and other helpful tips. The book is filled out with convenient chapters on such subjects as tides, fly vs. light tackle, choosing a boat, the importance of sunblock, etc.

The book has many merits. It has numerous photos, illustrations and maps which help the reader at many points throughout the text--although the photo on Page 164 would have been better suited for the front cover (a bit of an inside joke for Texas NFLCC members). Each of the geographical sections offers contact information for numerous motels/hotels, tackle shops, etc. Like all the books in this series, it has a model Table of Contents and exhaustive index. If other publishers spent 1/4 the amount of effort on these two critical search tools, we'd all be much happier.

Since Texas has 367 miles of gulf shoreline and a further 3300 miles of bay shoreline, it offers a wealth of opportunity to the fly angler. Colby Sorrells has written what is certainly the definitive work on the subject, and one that is destined to remain not just a classic but also a model on how such books should be put together.

The book is widely available from many places, including It is well worth owning for anyone who fishes the Gulf Coast, and is the perfect primer (and kick in the butt) for those who've always wanted to but haven't.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

John Conroy's Groundbreaking 1840 Rod

John Conroy's Groundbreaking 1840 Rod

A recent thread on The Classic Fly Rod Forum on the subject of the Porter General Rod got me thinking about groundbreaking events in the history of rodmaking. Certainly the Porter General--the rod designed by Spirit of the Times editor William Trotter Porter in the late 1840s--was just such a watershed moment. But there were others, that pre-dated it.

One such development in 1840 sent the ebullient editor Porter into a veritable apoplectic fit. The great rod and reelmaker John Conroy of 52 Fulton Street in New York City made a rod for Porter that was such a leap forward that the editor wrote a feature article on it in his journal, dated 09 May 1840. Entitled "Trout and Bass Rods" it began:

Mr. Conroy...has just presented us with the most splendid rod we ever beheld, and if we do not send him a thirty pound salmon caught with it before the month of June is over, it will be because there is not a sockdollager of that weight in Lake Pleasant.

What kind of rod was it? According to Porter, Conroy built it on an "improved plan." This improved plan was described in maddeningly short detail:

It has double hand-joints with rings on each for a reel, and the joints are so contrived that a rod may be put together for fly, brook or bass fishing. It has been on exhibition during the week at our office, where we shall be happy to show it to any of our piscatorial friends. The tips and sockets of every joint are German silver, and the materials of the very best description. As a piece of workmanship nothing of the kind we ever saw at the annual Fair of the American or the Mechanics' Institute is comparable with it.

Porter declared that he owned two rods by rival New York rodmaker John Lentner, three English-made rods, and but was "confident that this chef d'ouevre of Conroy's is so superior to either..."

Porter was a huge proponent of Conroy, and constantly pumped him up in print. As he noted:

There is not in the Union, probably, so extensive an assortment of fishing-tackle, and we know from ten years' experience that at no establishment in town can a spring supply be had in at so little expense. Conroy's German Silver Reels are the best we ever used, and his assortment of imported and domestic trout and salmon Flied is complete to the last degree. Lines, hooks, and rods of all kinds, and indeed all the paraphernalia for brook, pond, or salt-water fishing, he has an infinite variety. Ever obliging and attentive to his business, and never selling a poor article at any price, we conceive him eminently worthy of patronage, and therefore commend him to the attention of the disciples of old Izaak Walton generally, and of the readers of the Spirit in particular.

The article is a neat bit of information about one of the earliest--and arguably the most important--tackle maker in America, John Conroy. However, if the rod was so revolutionary, why did Porter feel the need to invent his own rod a few years later? Or did he borrow from Conroy's 1840 rod in making his Porter General? If so, how much?

It's unlikely we'll ever get an answer.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Voices from the Past: Noa Spears' Floating Dragon Fly (1922)

A Texas Fly Rod Bait: the Floating Dragon Fly

Ran across this neat early Texas fly rod bait, made by Noa Spears of San Antonio in the May, 1922 Forest & Stream. It was such a neat lure even the editors chimed in on it!

At last I have produced a practically perfect floating dragon fly, in a color that is true to nature in this section. It is tied on a No. 1-0 hook and I have tried it out here in Texas and it casts excellently with a lighter line and a lighter rod that I use with the ordinary bass bug. It requires almost no manipulation after it lights on the water, as the insect itself itself rarely rises, once it falls in, and the fish went after it in a manner that indicated they considered it the real article, to the extent that they scarcely do with the other flies I have used. When I drop it on the water its tail sinks slightly and the wings spread out exactly as the natural dragon fly would when lying on the water.

-- Noa Spears, San Antonio, Texas

From time to time samples of all kinds of artificial angling lures find there way into our editorial rooms, but we do not recall having seen anything more alluring or takable than this beautiful dragon fly creation of Mr. Spears. The shape and coloring are exquisite. It is light enough to cast easily with light tackle and it has required constant vigilance to prevent its being taken off the desk right in front of our eyes, even by such reputable persons as usually haunt these premises.

So...anyone ever seen this little guy before?

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, July 27, 2009

News of the Week: 27 July 2009

Fishing helps heal cancer survivors...father and son fish 50 states...the Humboldt Squid is NOT a man eater...a class hooked on fly angling...the baiting game...the Russellure is now made in Texas...more gar...the Mountaineer bamboo rod gathering...Elizabeth Taylor, angler?....a short history of G. Loomis...A River Runs Through It heads to catches Great White on fly rod...more on Edward Barder, Britain's greatest bamboo rod must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: How a rod and reel have pushed cancer to the back seat.

Father and son fish 50 states in 50 days.

Relax, California...the Humboldt Squid doesn't eat humans. Yet.

On the hunt for massive muskies.

This class is hooked on fly fishing.

Jim Matthews is the king of the baiting game.

Whether its micro jigs or small minnows, the bait is getting tinier by the minute.

Field & Stream's John Merwin relates the joys of kayak fishing.

Heavy seas brings the cod closer to shore.

Steve Carson's report on I-Cast includes the tidbit that California's famed Russellure is now being made in Texas.

Sheesh. I need the Gar's press agent working for me. 10th gar article in a month!

The Moutaineer Bamboo Rod Gathering was a big success.

Well, everyone's favorite fly fishing movie--A River Runs Through It--is headed for Blu Ray.

Tackling bait in Canada.

Bait shop owner writing tell-all book; including anecdote about film legend Elizabeth Taylor.

From the U.K.: There is more to fishing than catching fish.

The 9th Annual Lake Superior Salmon Classic went off without a hitch.

Angler catches Great White Shark. On a fly rod.

A short history of G. Loomis, rodmaker.

Creepy jerks steal man's prize musky.

New Zealand dog better angler than you; catches fish.

A profile of a tackle shop I'd like to visit.

A new British book details the life and times of a noted English angler.

Coming to a tackle shop near you: pink fishing rods, a kayak fish finder, and reusable soft baits.

Canada's Cape Breton Post tells us that realistic lures make all the difference.

British anglers hope that a giant pumping station won't destroy their angling Mecca.

Fly fishing books are on display at the Fannin County Library.

Color makes all the difference, so sayeth the Yuma Sun.

Muskie anglers must change with the times.

The weak economy isn't keeping anglers off the water.

Finishing With a Flourish: A profile of Edward Barder, a rodmaker many of us came to admire in the recent film The Lost World of Mr. Hardy.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dealer Display Cards, Part 2

Dealer Display Cards, Part 2

Got a great response to the Point of Purchase (POP) and Dealer Display card feature I started last week, and should have enough submissions for the next couple of months. Keep sending 'em in! They are awesome pieces from a time gone by.

This one is from our Texas friend Colby Sorrells, who sends one of his favorite pieces: a Langley Reel POP Display from the 1950s. Awesome piece and just flat out beautiful!

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett

Lou Eppinger's Original Ad

I started to subscribe to Outdoor Life and Sports Afield in 1956 and have seen many ads over the years for Lou Eppinger's Daredevle. Almost all the ads and company literature credit Lou Eppinger with the invention of that most famous of spoons.

Today's ad is from the June 1920 issue of Outer's Recreation Magazine. There were actually several layouts of this ad that ran at that time. A careful reading of the ad will show that (at least in this ad) Lou Eppinger was not claiming that he invented the Daredevle, but rather that one of his customers at his popular Detroit sporting goods store had invented it and that he (Lou Eppinger) merely "arranged with the inventor to put it on the market twelve months ago." The lesson for the day is be careful what you put in print, it may come back to haunt you.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week
From the Moron Files: Two idiots drag a shark through the streets of Miami.

Things I Would Buy If I Could Only Afford Them
OK. We often feature awesome baits on the blog, but good God man, this is one of the nicest classic pieces of tackle you're likely to run across. An honest-to-God 1870s Pat. Pend. Eagle Claw spring hook. Most people know what a geek I am for old hooks, and this is just flat out museum quality stuff here. Will someone I know please BUY THIS THING so once in my life I can hold one in my hands? I thank you in advance...

Seriously. When's the last time you've seen a Maroon dealer box for Gold Seal leaders?

This is a pretty awesome Heddon rod dealer display card.

And while you're at it, why not add this Heddon President Expert 2500 baitcasting rod as well?

Or this Heddon Deluxe Peerless 8' fly rod?

Really, now, aren't we all charmed by the Charmer Minnow?

Just gotta love the Otto Zwarg reels...

Ah, all my Texas friends will get a big smile out of this Nichols Shrimp.

In honor of Espen's awesome two-part article this week, we bring you a sweet Ambassadeur 6000.

How about a genuine pre-Civil War fishing reel marked H.K. Brown? I thought so...

Everyone loves the Meek & Milam, even people like me who can't afford them....

This is a cool rod--a Phillipson Pow'r Pak't bamboo fly rod in the tube.

A couple of people REALLY want this nice Penn Spinfisher Model 706...

Collector Note: Buy every glass-eyed Eger Dillinger like this you can find...

Speaking of Sweden, this Arjon Commander is a neat reel even if it sounds like the name of a character from a 1980s video game.

Walt & Winnie Dette flies are certainly some of the most collectable of their kind.

John G. Landman made some outstanding fly rods in his day...

Clamp Reel Alert! That is all...

I love the Pflueger Hawkeye; to me, it's one of the most beautiful of the later fly reels.

A Jim Payne 4'4" bamboo spinning rod? Talk about early ultra lights...

Wow. This Paw Paw Trout Caster is just beautiful...

This Leo Wise wiggler is a real beauty.

Who wouldn't want a 1904 Shakespeare catalog?

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

-- Dr. Todd