This week we have a great photo dated 1916 showing a surf caster in action. We usual get the end result of a saltwater angler's actions, not the action itself, so it is great to see the method of landing a striper.
Having had a long time interest in the story of George Perry's world record largemouth bass, I did a double take while looking at this ad for the introduction of the Creek Chub Wiggle Fish. The Wiggle Fish by the way, was misidentified for years as the lure on which George Perry caught his 22 lb 4 oz monster. We now know that lure was in fact the Creek Chub Fin Tailed Shiner. So what's this business with the Pikie Minnow?
When Whitefish Press recently published Remembering George W. Perry by Bill Baab, I sent for a copy and quickly read it. Until then, I could not have told you who held the world's record for largemouth bass before George Perry. Luckily there was a chapter in the book devoted to this former record holder. It was only when I read the name Fritz Friebel in this ad that it dawned on me that I was reading a magazine that was printed seven years before George Perry caught the big one in 1932.
This ad is from the May 1925 issue of Outdoor Recreation Magazine. I have blown up the insert portion of the ad so we can get a better look at Fritz's 20lb 2oz monster! It is probably the only look we are going to get because as Bill Baab's book tells us, like George Perry's fish, this one also ended up on the dinner table rather than being mounted.
In the past five years there have been seemingly hundreds of attempts to create on-line fishing magazines. Most of them fail quickly and rather spectacularly (even some very well funded ones) in large part because they forget the cardinal rule of publishing: it's all about the content. No matter how slick or glossy, if the content is substandard the magazine will fail.
Which is why Catch Magazine is such a delight. Founded a little over a year ago, it has grown into a beautiful and interesting magazine featuring some stunning photography. Their own mission statement declares that they:
are searching the world for the best fly fishing photography, film and video. We hope the layout, content and navigation meet and exceed your expectations. While we may not have long articles on fly tying or casting, we will show, via dynamic and creative photography, the beautiful and exciting sport of fly fishing and expose the places, the people, the culture and the soul of this world wide activity.
In this, they have largely succeeded. A closer look at Catch Magazine Issue #9 includes a video by Todd Moen, a slide show on Mexican Bass by Brian O'Keefe, photo essays like Brad Harris' "Tasmania: Under Down Under" and other beautiful pieces.
Catch Magazine promises a lot, and amazingly enough in an age when very few on-line sites come through with even a portion of their promises, it delivers. It's a wonderful e-magazine and I wish it continued success, so it can stand as a model for how to do these kind of things correctly.
Fumbled Fishing Rods: The Fishing Failures of a Minnesota Vikings Fan
by Dr. Todd E.A. Larson
Watching the Minnesota Vikings lose (again) in the NFC Championship game has put me in a nostalgic mood. Growing up in the 1970s, the Vikings collapsing in the most painful ways possible became a sort of ritual, from the blocked punt against the Steelers in the 1975 Super Bowl to the "Drew Pearson" incident against the Cowboys (a Viking fan will need no more prompt than that). Hell, so meager was my Viking joy that one of the highlights of my childhood was watching the Vikings beat the Steelers in the ABC "Superteams" competition tug-of-war. Such is the sad state of affairs with Viking fans. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, read ESPN's best columnist Jim Caple's brilliant article on the subject.
All of this nostalgia--painful as it is--also got me thinking about fishing in my youth, for in Minnesota there are four seasons: fishing season, Vikings season (interrupted for a month by hunting season), and hockey season. Of the four, only fishing season lasts all year. So thinking about the epic failure of the Vikings also got me thinking about fishing, and in particular, fishing rods. And not just fishing rods, but broken fishing rods.
When I was a kid I broke more than my share of rods. I broke casting rods, spinning rods, fly rods, ice fishing rods, you name it and I broke it. I destroyed so many rods, in fact, my dad banned for a time from entering the boat house where the tackle was stored.
The funny thing is I never considered myself a clumsy angler. Take for example the first rod I can remember busting, a custom built graphite rod my dad had built for him by a talented Duluth, MN rodmaker named Bakke. It was a single piece, seven-foot medium action rod fitted with a Mitchell 308, both of which I was expressly forbidden to use.
An eight year old simply cannot pass up this kind of temptation. So one summer day when my father was gone, I went into the boat house and "borrowed" his favorite rig. I walked to the end of the dock, tied on a Mepps spinner, and began casting towards the brush pile that was replaced every spring to the right of the dock. By the way, I also lost a lot of lures in my day -- but fortunately I was an above average swimmer and snorkeler so I was usually able to retrieve them before my father found out.
Anyway, after happily casting away for an hour or so, I had my fill for the moment and decided to head back up to the cabin. Carrying the rod in front of me I must have let the rod tip dip, and of course, it caught between the cracks of the dock. A seven foot rod turned into a six footer in one second flat. Stunned, I held the rod parts in separate hands, not believing what I had done. We'll just say that when the Old Man found out he was, how shall we say, less than pleased with his youngest boy. Sadly, it wasn't the only time I broke a rod in this exact manner.
This wasn't the only busted rod from my youth. There was the time I slammed the car door on a Fenwick glass spinning rod while we were about to embark on a trip into town to fish the St. Croix. I broke a casting rod another time when I dropped a boat anchor on it. Another time I tried to pull a lure loose from a brush pile and put too much pressure on a spinning rod and watched it break in my hands. Stupidly trying to jump over a Phillipson fly rod in the boat house I stumbled and stepped across the butt, snapping it cleanly in half.
Not every broken rod was my fault. I remember how excited my father and brothers were when we first got boron rods in the 1970s. I also remember the unbelievable shock when one of these VERY expensive rods simply shattered in my hands during the routine act of casting. Bizarre doesn't describe the incident. Fortunately, my dad was there to witness it so I was not blamed for THAT one, although he certainly had suspicions I might have had something to do with it until the exact same thing happened to him. I didn't blame him, because after all, I didn't have a great track record when it came to rods.
My father owned well over 100 rods and we used them all, so it was natural that over the course of time some would break. Those worth saving were fixed and made into "loaner" rods for visitors who did not bring their own tackle. To my dad, not coming to the cabin properly outfitted was the same as declaring yourself an absolute novice, for as a tackle snob he felt no neophyte angler deserved to use his top of the line gear. My father certainly subscribed to a theory first posited in the The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette of 29 May 1891, when the editor of the newspaper wrote:
When The damp bad weather and the clouds roll by, and the clearing sunshine comes again, we always feel like forgiving everybody for any wrong doing and asking the same for anything anybody harbors against our poor soul.
P.S. The man who borrowed our split bamboo fly rod just returned it "busted." We must make one exception to the above. Marriage is not a failure but loaning fish rods is.
If loaning fishing rods always ends about as badly as a typical Vikings season, then breaking a fishing rod, especially through an act of carelessness, is the ultimate fisherman's failure--the Brett Favre interception of the angling world, if you will. But as I sit here pondering rods and fumbles gone by, I can't help but think that without me, perhaps my dad's summers would have been far unhappier.
Think of all the broken friendships I saved for my dad by creating "loaner rods" for his non-angling friends and relatives.
BREAKING NEWS: BUD STEWART BOOK AVAILABLE (Limited Time Only)
I field a lot of inquiries about tackle books here at the Whitefish Press, and at least once every couple of months someone e-mails me about the availability of the book Bud Stewart: Michigan's Legendary Lure Maker. Sadly, I inform them that not only is the book out of print but that it is exceedingly difficult to find -- owners being reluctant to part with them. This is why I am very happy to let everyone know the contents of an email I got from the book's co-author, Raymond Carver, stating that a few new copies of the book are now available. Here's the entire email:
"BUD STEWART, MICHIGAN'S LEGENDARY LURE MAKER"
The good news is that I have discovered and purchased the publishers "over run" of our first edition, autobiography and pictorial history of Bud Stewart. This hardcover, 228-page book contains over 500 excellent color photos of his fishing lures, decoys and folk art items. It also identifies each piece and offers a unique value guide for the collector. I have a VERY VERY LIMITED number of these FIRST EDITION, QUALITY NEW books. I am going to offer them on a "first come -- first served" basis, for $95.00 each (plus shipping)....
The current demand for Bud Stewart fishing tackle and folk art has proven his life long work equal to any other craftsman in his field. His fishing lures and spearing decoys continue to rise in popularity and value as more and more collectors discover his hand crafted folk art. We believe that this book has been the catalyst that helped spread his fame worldwide among fresh water sports fisherman and folk art collectors. Every serious collector of fishing lures decoys or folk art will find this book to be a vital edition to their library. The book offers a true insight into the life and times of Bud Stewart as well as presenting over 500 color photographs with complete descriptions, dates of manufacture, and history of his most popular pieces. Also included is a very complete and unique 2010 value guide, specifically formulated to current market values. This publication is the most comprehensive guidebook written to date for any person interested in the history of Bud Stewart Tackle. Eight years of research are consolidated in this colorful book that truly interprets and reveals the amazing talents of Bud Stewart.
Ray can be contacted via the NFLCC Directory or by emailing to: revracr AT aol DOT com. Better get one before they sell out again!
This week we feature a nifty piece on bait casting by tournament caster and noted lure maker Al Foss. Before he unleashed the "Little Egypt Wiggler" and other famous baits on the world, he was a world class caster. This came from the August 1916 Field & Stream magazine.
Practical Hints on Bait Casting By Al. Foss
We are assuming that you have some knowledge of bait casting, and where our suggestions are contrary to accepted notions, we will try and explain why we believe our methods best.
We would advise the underhand cast, or what is termed by some as the "side swipe," as it will insure a larger creel, for the following reasons:
1st—Your bait hits the water with a taut line, and therefore some fish will hook themselves. 2nd-Your retrieve can be started at once, having no slack line to take up. 3rd—You can cast under brush, fallen trees, and overhanging banks, where the fish are usually found. 4th—It is less tiresome than the overhead cast. 5th—It is possible to cast lighter lures, which are more killing than the heavier ones. 6th—The lure does not go so high in the air, and therefore lands on the water more lightly. 7th—A longer rod can be used, making the handling of the hooked fish more practical. 8th—The wear and tear on the line is less than with the overhead cast. 9th—You can get closer to your fish without detection, as the movement of the casting arm is kept at a lower level.
There are of course lines when the overhead cast is absolutely necessary, and both styles should be mastered.
In fishing more than one in a boat, and in casting among weeds and lily-pads into small spots of open water, the overhead cast is advised, as greater accuracy can he obtained.
Unless the water is very clear, casts of from twenty-five to thirty-five feet will bring the best results.
By all means cast sitting down in a boat, as standing up is not only tiresome and dangerous, but it requires a much longer cast to get your lure near to the fish before they see you. You will therefore get practically no strikes near the boat, while in sitting down, fish will often strike it after your cast is completed and you arc in the act of lifting the lure out of the water.
Just before the lure hits the water, stop your reel and allow the lure to straighten out the line, then while changing the rod from the right to the left hand, start your retrieve by a backward movement of the rod, but not too far back, as enough of this backward movement must be held in reserve to "pump" the hook into your quarry, should you get a strike.
The reason why so many good casters fail to "bring home the bacon" is their failure to set the hook at the proper moment, as the fish will seldom hit a lure with enough force to drive the point of the hook beyond the barb. Your success therefore depends mostly on your keenness to detect a strike, and your speed in setting the hook before he decides that your lure is something that he does not want.
After you hook your fish, and before he realizes that he is in trouble and commences to fight, he should be turned about and slightly drawn through the water, so that you can estimate his weight, and handle him accordingly.
A bass of over one pound in weight should be landed by catching it by the hand in the lower jaw, the thumb inside. They will never get away no matter how large, if once you get hold of them.
After they are landed and you wish to keep them alive, a rope stringer is the most practical. Pass the point up through the lips, from below. Carry screw eyes in your tackle box to attach to boat, and trail in water, and if wading, tie to buttonhole and trail behind, carrying when not in the water. Never string them through the gills, as their gills are to them what our lungs are to us.
About tackle, volumes could be written, but if you want something more than ordinary fishing, you MUST USE LIGHT TACKLE.
We would advise a line of not over twelve pounds test, any color but white, which would be about a No. 5. If you can handle a lighter line you will do much better.
It is advisable to buy your line in one hundred yard lengths, and then cut it into three parts of one hundred feet each, which will give you as much line as necessary, and will reduce the cost to you just one-third. This line can be wound upon a cork core, and should never be allowed to dry on the spool, to keep it from rotting, and after the end you are using shows weakness which should be tested each day, you can turn it end for end. As the lines are now marketed, each spool contains fifty yards, which is not necessary. especially for bass, as no bass will take more than fifteen or twenty feet of line, if you make him fight for it.
Use no snaps to attach your line to lures, nor is it advisable to double your line and make a large slip-knot, as practiced by many, as these all tend to keep the fish from striking your lure, as they can better see that what you have to offer is not wanted.
A split bamboo rod of about five-ounce weight is recommended, which should be as good as your finances will permit, but if you cannot afford a good bamboo rod, get one of steel.
Would advise a rod from five to five and one-half feet long, one piece preferred, but two piece construction is nearly as efficient.
There are a great many reels on the market, which should be free running, quadruple multiplying, and should be oiled once or twice a day with a light oil.
Clothing plays a larger part in fishing than most persons imagine, and to avoid being seen, it is advisable to wear sombre colors, especially the hat or cap.
Our advice is to reel fast--the faster the better, for bass must be credited with having at least a little brains, and the lure must be put to them in such a manner that they strike it impulsively without taking a lot of time to think it over.
An amazing catfish is landed by blind angler...making traditional Japanese fishing rods...a tour of the Nautilus fly reel factory...noted rodmaker John Channer passes away...why "smart fish" for smart fish...global report on tackle is out...bait and liar shop mistakes...ultra, ultra light fishing...massive Pacu caught -- in Florida!...it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK (Viking Mourning Edition)!
I was recently was really surprised to see a Heddon "Slick Trick Spoon" in a marked box for sale on Joe's Board. I had almost forgotten that this obscure bait even existed. Today's ad is a flyer dated August 1 1932 and sent to dealers by Heddon prior to the 1933 season. The only other mention of this lure I've seen is a somewhat obscure reference in correspondence at the Heddon Museum. Even that only describes the bait and does not mention it by name. Some 20 years ago while surveying some of the largest Heddon collections in the NFLCC, I could locate only two examples of this lure and if I'm not mistaken those came out of the factory archives. Since that time perhaps a half dozen to my knowledge have been found. The real mystery is that this "Feature Lure" never made it into the 1933 Heddon Catalog or any other Heddon catalog. Don Ludy called me a few years ago and asked me what a Heddon Slick Trick Spoon was. He had found one pictured in a hardware supply catalog. What ever happened to this mystery lure remains a mystery.
One of the things I really love about doing this blog is that it puts me in touch with innovative anglers all around the world, from China to Australia to South America to Europe. Recently, I met Danish salmon guide Jesper Fohrmann and learned about his fly-tying company Fishmadman, which has launched a new series of really interesting flies that "reduces leverage problems and enables the anglers to use big dry flies with very little weight." Jesper sent over this little article on how he came up with his concept of tube flies.
Dry flies on Tubes by Jesper Fohrmann
Jesper with a fabulous salmon.
The Tube Bomber Through my childhood I kept the book The Atlantic Salmon by Lee Wulff, on the shelf next to Donald Duck and Spiderman. Lee was a great inspiration to me as a young angler and I often planned to fish the rivers of Canada, so intensely portrayed in his books.
I never got to Canada but instead I started using Lee Wulff´s flies in Scandinavia. I fished some of the mighty rivers of Northern Norway where the dry fly on some occasions would out-fish the traditional sub-surface patterns. Some spots on the river were just superb for the dry fly and I would go to great extent to cover them.
One salmon lie was situated in the middle of a torrent river – Just barely indicated by a little “oily window” on the surface. It would take me 15 minutes just to get in position. Once I arrived I would use big white Bombers to cover the spot. The Bombers where tied on big single hooks and the sheer weight and impact of the fly hitting the water would quickly make the dry-flies into wet-flies.
Driven by the urge to fish this particular spot…I soon developed a long line of different fly patterns. I made flies of foam, cork and I even tied a fly on a little air-filed glass-cylinder. But none of these flies proved to be any good so I turned back to the old deer-hair flies, this time tying the flies on a thin tube instead of single hooks. These tube-dries were the right solution and before long I could build big dry flies with no considerable weight. I used small short shank carp hooks with a wide gape that would hook the fish perfectly. Upon hooking the fish the hook would become detached from the tube and the leverage problems I so often had suffered with flies tied on big hooks were gone.
Monster Tube Caddis During the summer of 1995 some of the rivers I fished were swarming with big Caddis. Normally the Atlantic salmon is not known to eat anything on their way to the spawning grounds – but these fish in the very north of Norway where feasting away on the wealth of insects and an imitation of the caddis was needed. Like Lee Wulff 65 years before me had designed his White Wulff like a huge version of a mayfly -- so did I also create a caricature like version of the caddis of the imnephilidae family. This big caddis-caricature has ever since proven to be an excellent dry fly for salmon that has an amazing ability to draw salmon up from the deep of the pools.
Here are some photos:
Tube Bomber(tm) tube fly.
The Monster Tube Caddis(tm) tube fly.
Tube fly showing the hollow middle.
Thanks, Jesper, for sharing your story of how you created these beautiful flies! I have to say these are some of the most original ideas in fly tying I've ever seen. It's such a simple yet elegant solution, much the same way salmon lures often detach from the hooks. I definitely plan on giving these a try for pike and bass...you can find more information on Jesper's creations at Fishmadman.com which you can access by Clicking Here.