Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Voices from the Past: Omer F. Immell (1917)

The following blurb was sent in to me by Gary Miller. It is a nifty history of Omer F. Immell, the legendary lure designer responsible for one of the most iconic baits in history: the Chippewa. Immel was a fascinating guy and this is a neat history of him.

Omer F. Immell, hustling agent for the New York Life Insurance company, was born on a farm three miles east of Blair, April 22, 1872,  son of Francis M. and Anna (Storley) Immell. Francis M. Immell was born in Ohio, came to Wisconsin in 1851, lived at Black River Falls four years, came to Trempealeau County in 1856, located three miles east of Blair, and lived there until he moved to the village, where he died in 1913, his good wife having passed away the previous year. Omer F. Immell started out for himself while a boy in his early teens. As a youth he did farm work. For several years he was a clerk in the Farmers' Trading Association store at Blair.  For one year he traveled for the Ramer Candy Company, of Winona, and for six years the Winona Candy Company, of that city.  Later he traveled for seven years for the Kratchwil Candy Company, of La Crosse.  In 1913, he established at Blair, the Immell Bait Company for the manufacture of the "Chippewa Bait." 

Jan. 25, 1915, he accepted his present agency. In this capacity he has several times led the State organization in number of applications obtained, and in February and March, 1915, he led the district comprising Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and part of Canada.  The enclosed extract, taken from a journalistic source, is a well-merited tribute to his ability in the line of industry he follows:  "O. F. Immell, agent for the New York Life Insurance Company, has the honor of being one of seven to win a vice-presidency in what is termed by the company the $100,000 class. To be in this class an agent must sell over $100,000 worth of insurance.  Mr. Immell came close to doubling this figure, selling a total of $183,000 work of insurance for the year (1917).  By so doing he automatically elected himself a delegate from this district to the convention of that company at Atlantic City, which is held Thursday and Friday of this week.  Mr. Immell has worked hard for this honor and only a close attention to this business, coupled with the fact that he is well posted on insurance matters and represents one of the best companies, enabled him to win.  The company has this to say of him:  'He has the honor of having a larger volume, $183,000, than any other official in the club.  He is so close to the $200,000 club that we shall expect to see him there without fail one year from now.'

Mr. Immell was married Jan. 1, 1895, to Margaret McKivergin, a native of Trempealeau County, daughter of James McKivergin.  This union has resulted in two children:  Orrie and Florence.

(Transcribed from the "History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917", pages 628 - 629).

Thanks, Gary! This is a neat piece of Immel Chippewa history.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, November 29, 2010

News of the Week: 29 November 2010

Don't have time to read 50+ fishing and tackle collecting blogs and web sites? Well, let us do it for you! Follow all of the latest news, articles, and stories on our Whitefishpress Twitter account! Hint: You don't need to be a member...just bookmark the Twitter Feed Page or click on latest links to the right!

Asian carp in Lake Erie?...big seas bring no fish...Tinley Park show celebrates 18 years...British angling company Bennett's goes under...Tom Bedell, son of Berkley Bedell, is a guitar man...a big barbel on float tackle...BBC radio man Tony Wadsworth explores his Leicester Street past...Scots hate this Amerrican import...the king of kingfish down under...Brunei holds a fishing tourney...Croatian angler gets huge shock...consistency is the key for pro anglers...Riaan Manser kayaks around Madagascar...it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Asian carp offer much to fear in Lake Erie.

Big seas but no fish.

Illinois' Tinley Park fishing show enters its 18th year.

Sad News: British angling giant Bennett's goes under.

Tom Bedell--son of famed angling legend Berkley Bedell--is a self-proclaimed guitar hippie.

Giant barbel caught on float tackle.

BBC radio man Tony Wadsworth explored Leicester High street history (including his father's tackle shop). With video.

In Glasgow, this American is unwelcome.

Ice fishing is right around the corner.

Down Under, this rates at the king of kingfish.

Brunei holds its 40th anniversary fishing tournament (with video).

In Croatia, an angler is injured by huge electric shock.

The Deccan Chronicle urges all Indians to go fishing.

Walleye Central gives us 20 questions with Gary and Nicholas Zart.

Sami Omari on learning how to fly (fish).

Consistency is the secret for pro anglers.

Finishing with a Flourish: Riaan Manser travels around Madagascar in a kayak and fishes, writes book about experience.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1000 Words

1000 Words

This week we begin a series of dealer display windows utilizing some wonderful point-of-purchase displays. It dates from 1930 and ran in the Sporting Goods Illustrated Journal. In this display are some great Pflueger, Shakespeare, and Weber displays, along with a ton of miscellaneous tackle. Beautiful! The company is the Alling Rubber Company of Connecticut, a firm that sold a lot of fishing tackle.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deconstructing Old Ads: Dr. Henshall's Bass Flies

Dr. Henshall's Bass Flies

From the May 1924 issue of Outers Recreation Magazine comes this full page advertisement from the Weber Lifelike Fly Company. Webber produced some of the most attractive catalogs in the fishing tackle business but I've seldom seen a magazine advertisement of theirs to top this one. 1924 was a time of very good economic conditions and Outers Recreation catered to the "well to do" crowd and consequently carried lots of ads with great production standards and many for high-end items. Dr Henshall is known as the "Father of Bass Fishing." If you read his books, you will find that he had little use or respect for those who used what we would refer to as "plugs". He championed live bait and artificial flys. He designed this group of bass bugs which was later produced by Weber.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

Bing Crosby and the great "Satchmo" Louis Armstrong sing one of my all-time favorite fishin' songs.

Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

John Waller Hills A History of Fly Fishing for Trout is a true classic.

This is a neat Folsom Arms trade rod made by Heddon.

And this is a rare Heddon trade rod for New Jersey's Bauer Sporting Goods.

These Meisselbach fly reels are a ton of fun.

This Pepper New Century Spinner and letterhead is a fun combo.

Dean Bros. was a predecessor of Jim Bagley Bait Co., and this reel oil bottle is very rare indeed.

The Hardy Palakona in exceptional condition is a nifty rod.

This Evinrude in its original case would be a wonderful find.

Red and White Closed Leg Luny Frogs in the box with hang tags will always get insane prices.

Gregory made the finest metal lures of the nineteenth century.

A Ringed CCBC Pikie in the box? Holy cow.

Wow. If I knew Glow Wurms were going to go for this much I would have bought 250 of them back when I had the chance...

This Heddon Lucky 13 is in a super tough color.

A Heddon Hi-Tail in Indy 500 Checkerboard is awesome!

Heddon Dummy Doubles are exciting, even in less than stellar condition.

Well, I have to say, I have never seen one of these Texaco lures before. Have you?

Winchester lures are beautiful.

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

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, November 25, 2010

7 Things to Be Thankful For Today (Part IV)

7 Things to Be Thankful For Today (Part IV)

For the Fourth consecutive year--2007's Missive is Here, 2008's Follow Up is Here, and 2009's is here
--I present to you the 7 Things to be Thankful For Today.

1) Patience. It has been a trying time around the Larson household of late. Surgery on my mouth, three operations on my foot, a wife in the hospital with pneumonia, a family with the flu all at once...it's been as rough of a four month span as I can ever remember from a health standpoint. But I've rediscovered the lost art of patience. I am behind on virtually everything in my life, from grading term papers to books, but rather than stress out over this and produce less than adequate work, I've come to the realization that all things will come with time. I can't make up for eight lost weeks of work in one day, or one week, or one month. But it will be made up for, with patience.

2) Books. I love books. That goes without saying, considering I spend virtually all my non-teaching time editing, laying out, preflighting, stocking, shipping, and promoting books for the Whitefish Press. But I do this because of my deep and unabiding love of books themselves. Every week I seem to discover hidden gems, from the writings of Irish novelist Maurice Walsh to the wonderfully hand-written work of John Betts. So many books, so little time. But without an hour snatched here or there to read, I would go insane.

3) Kindness. I was overwhelmed with the number of people who wrote me after my little missive about my father was published. I was so happy that other people enjoyed it, and took time write me about their own experiences with their own fathers. Many of these people I did not know, but were kind enough to take time to tell me their stores. Kindness, the most underrated of all human actions.

4) ORCA. I've been a member of ORCA about a decade, but in that time it has grown to become a part of my life. I love the NFLCC (as those who've read my previous missives know) but I also love ORCA and fishing reels. I am not one who believes you have to have allegiance to one or the other. They both, in their own way, promote our hobby and heritage in the same way. But ORCA's primary focus is fishing reels, and there is no other place quite like it. So many intelligent, analytical minds, it is a great organization and one that I recommend highly to anyone who has even a passing interest in reels and fishing history.

5) Vintage Rods. I love old rods of all kinds. I started collecting 19th century non-bamboo wooden rods a long time ago, then naturally moved into the realm of the split cane rod, which has become a passion. I enjoy researching the history of metal rods, too. Lately I've taken a deep interest in something I fished my whole life, which is fiberglass fly rods. Maybe some day I'll be interested in graphite and composite rods, too. But regardless, I encourage everyone to take an old rod fishing. It was what it was built for...which brings me to my next point.

6) Fishing with Vintage Tackle. I've become more and more interested in fishing with vintage tackle, something I've done since my childhood. In fact, I rarely fish any other way any more. I encourage everyone in 2011 to rig up an inexpensive vintage rod and reel, tie on a beater plug, and give it a shot. You'd be surprised how gratifying your first fish on vintage gear can be!

7) Family. Although I cannot be with all my family this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for having a mother, father, and five brothers and sisters and their families in my life. Family is the rock upon which we build our lives, and I could not be more thankful for my own family, as I hope you are for yours, too.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Little History of Louisiana's B.F.W. Bait Company, Inc.

A Little History of Louisiana's B.F.W. Bait Company, Inc.

I was reading Adrian Delbasty's third volume of his Collector's Guide to Louisiana Lures when I ran across a truncated selection for the B.F.W. Bait Company of Shreveport, Louisiana. I thought I'd fill in a few gaps for this interesting company.

B.F.W. Bait Company of 6204 West Canal Boulevard of Shreveport sold two kinds of baits under the "Wilson's Special" brand. I've been told that the "W" in B.F.W. stood for B.F. Wilson, hence the name of the lures.

B.F.W. Letterhead dated 5/2/1960.

The first lure was "Wilson's Special Snake" which was a rubber lure shaped, not surprisingly, like a snake. It was made in one size, 11" (WW-1) and 3/8 ounces, and came in six colors: red (R), black (B), blue (BL), yellow (Y), brown (BR), and black with white tail (BWT). It sold for $9.00 per dozen ($5.40 wholesale) in 1960.

The second lure is the "Wilson's Dragon Fly" which came in two sizes, the regular size (3.5" length, 3.5" wingspan, and 5/8 ounces -- company code WW2) and the "Wilson's Fly Rod Dragon Fly" (2" length, 2" wingspan, 1/4 ounce). They came in six colors: natural (N), clear wings and blue body (C&BL), clear wings and black body (C&B), black wings and black body (B&B), and clear wings and yellow body (C&Y). The regular size retailed for $12.00 per dozen ($7.20 wholesale) and the fly rod size sold for $7.80 per dozen ($4.68 wholesale).

The history behind this firm is murky, but as far as I can tell they were in business as early as 1958 when they showed up in the Straus-Frank Company catalog. Straus-Frank was a San Antonio, Texas wholesaler.

The B.F. Wilson baits seem to be pretty rare. Adrian Delbasty's book shows a "Wilson's Special Snake" and I've seen a "Wilsons Dragon Fly" at a show before. But I've never seen a fly rod model.

Does anyone have one of these in their collection?

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Voices from the Past: Edmund Ware Smith, Part II (1937)

Here is the second part of the article by Edmund Ware Smith on the state of current fly rods. Note how he gushes over the tubular steel fly rod by True Temper!

Enormous in his value to the fishing world, and in his influence in educating fishermen not only to the proper selection but the proper use of good fly tackle, is the maker of Weber Fly Tackle, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The fact that I have not owned a Weber fly rod is pure chance. I have used one in practice, and seen their arch-demonstrator, Bill Cook, use one in a way to make your mouth water--and Weber's catalog rates tops in instruction-interest along with South Bend's and Pflueger's. Weber's is fly-fishing exclusively, remember. They're specialists. Pflueger, on the other hand, sells pretty nearly everything a fisherman would need in a lifetime of fishing, and their catalog is guaranteed to give you a rare evening's entertainment, whether you be fly fisherman, baitcaster, or a salty angler of the deep blue sea.

Right down the center alley in value for cash on the line is any rod in mid-price range by Heddon and South Bend. A good mid-price-range is when you put a parenthesis around ($10-$20), like that. Horrocks-lbbotson and Montague make quantities of inexpensive rods--fly rods, surf rods, casting rods--rods of all descriptions. First fly rod I ever owned cost me $3.75 in a hardware store in Gorham, New Hampshire. Baldy bought one of the same, and we went to Maine and with them caught our first landlocked salmon, H.S.D. showing us how to cast a fly. Twenty years ago--tsk-tsk-tsk! Those two rods were made either by Montague or Horrocks-Ibbotson, I am reasonably certain.

A Special and a Favorite
A certain small specialist in fly tackle--and may he grow larger and wax prosperous for having designed and executed his "Imperial" fly rod--is Lyon & Coulson, 77 Swan St., Buffalo. Price: $18.75, unless there's a change for 1937 I haven't heard about. I fitted out mine with an HDH Ashaway Tob-Big line on a Bristol No. 65 fly reel, and got a marvellous balance and ease in casting. It's designed as a dry-fly rod, but I liked mine so much I fished it both ways. I think the boys from Buffalo have whittled themselves a peach of a value.

Always I think of Horton Mfg. Co. as makers of steel rods for still-fishing, trolling, and mighty near every other purpose. Practically every small boy buys his first fishin' rod out of Bristol, Connecticut--and many a man grown up to be, on some occasions at least, "an angler," has a Bristol telescopic rod, a stamped-out reel, and fifty yards or so of Kingfisher line. He may at times use this rod for still-fishing, for catching bait with which to catch larger fish, for horn-pouting, or for early season fishing-with-a-worm. For general-utility steel rods-of every shape and description--Horton has a big name. When we get in- to bait-casting talk, month or so hence, we'll have a lot to say about Meek and Bluegrass bait-casting reels, same company.

Tubular Dry-Fly Rod
Having led off last month with a note about the new True Temper dry-fly rod, the first shall this month be last in this discussion. I told you I thought the rod would be a peach, and it is better than that. It is truly a honey, and I am not one bit surprised. True Temper has been going to town, and where there is smoke there's fire--and there's fire in this 8-ft., 4 3/4 oz., beautifully finished and velvet-eased weepon.

Trial: Of course as I write this, open water is scarce, and it's cold as sin. But I fastened a reel equipped with an HCH line to the True Temper's screw-locking reel seat-and I amused the neighbors by giving them a free half-hour's demonstration of plain and fancy lawn-casting.

The maker suggested the HCH line, or if level, a D, as being good. Well, at forty feet with the HCH, this rod was doing its stuff easily on a par with anything I ever owned or operated in that weight class. I've had a heck of a time trying to find a word that will describe, or convey, this new rod's action. Brisk, quick, light, easy--it's all those. The rod has "life" and "fire" and "purpose." Its cork grip is nicely designed, and easy on the mitt. The rod's color is light gun-metal, and it's wound with black edged with white, like one of those white-tailed hornets - ah -that's the word I was after! The new True Temper dry-fly rod behaves with hornet action--quick, business-like, and very, very much to the point. And, alas, to round out the hornet metaphor, your bitter and hard-shelled correspondent is this moment stung with the realization that the steel rod and the split bamboo defy any further comparison. If there is any difference, maybe Izaak Walton could detect it. But I can't, and Izaak is dead these many years. Thus and henceforth, and using the new True Temper as a criterion, you must decide for yourself whether you want steel or bamboo. If I said anything to influence you either way, I'd be cheating.

Permanence of Steel
Just by way of caution: Don't abuse a good fly rod liust because it's steel and because you therefore think it's indestructible. A steel rod is probably slightly more indestructible, if it is possible to use that phrase, than a bamboo rod. They will both break or damage if you wrap them around a tree, run their tips into a bank, sit on them, or drop the window sash on their middle joints. Any breakage resulting from faulty construction will be replaced by a bamboo and (or) steel rod maker.

The judgment in such cases is--and should be--theirs. Never yet heard of an instance where they failed to make good. But if one scatters the joints of a bamboo or steel fly rod in amongst the old jacks and wrenches under the rear seat of his car, there to be rattled, joggled, bruised, and defaced, he should be forced by the National Guard to buy six new rods and distribute them among the deserving poor!

The Rigors of Wind
In the old days at the Cape Cod Trout Club, I used to hear Harry Tair talk about his "wind rod" and we all had "wind rods," heavy for use in gales; and we had dry-fly rods; and wet-fly rods. The modern dry-fly rod is stiff in action, eight or eight and a half feet. That's about all the term "dry-fly rod" means. And I am constrained to believe it's not essential to own a different rod for wet-and dry-fly fishing, and for high winds. A so-called "dry-fly rod" will fish a wet fly as niftily, to my mind, as the slightly longer, slightly more limber "wet-fly rod."

Opposite Extreme
Just before Cy and I left on the trout expedition above mentioned, I got a card from Ken Reid, saying: "Dear Ed: I am educating the trout of the Madison and Big-hole rivers to some of Joe Messinger's fanwings. It's hard to beat these Western (Montana) rivers." Well, I wasn't there, but I am certain Ken was using his 3 1/2-oz. Leonard dry-fly rod, long, tapered leaders tied by himself, and a Cahill, Pink Lady, or Royal Coachman fanwing, size 10 or 12. As for Ken's using a worm, I blush at the thought. In fact I do not think he ever used a shovel in his life, except to transplant some white birches I sent him once. To him, I expect a bare hook is defined as something to hang clothes on. A fly is something which buzzes in varying quantities in the neighborhood of the little board structure out back. But a dry fly is something beautiful, sublime, and floatable--and designed expressly for taking rainbow trout in fast water. So, again--Amen!

Monday, November 22, 2010

News of the Week: 22 November 2010

Don't have time to read 50+ fishing and tackle collecting blogs and web sites? Well, let us do it for you! Follow all of the latest news, articles, and stories on our Whitefishpress Twitter account! Hint: You don't need to be a member...just bookmark the Twitter Feed Page or click on latest links to the right!

Fly angler and fishing editor Tom Helgeson passes away...lead battle may be fought state by state...20 questions with Tommy Skarlis...British tackle shop employee may be next middleweight champ...Mississippi certifies record tiger shark...how trout nearly won the battle of Tokaruk...Irish fly tying...pacific is closed to commercial tuna fishing...forgetting the one that got away...Forbes gives us the best fly angling gear...it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Terribly sad news--noted fly fishing editor Tom Helgeson has passed away.

The battle for lead may have to be fought all over again, state by state this time.

Walleye Central gives us 20 Questions with Tommy Skarlis.

The Geelong Advertiser gives us fishing with Geoff Wilson.

Tackle shop employee turned boxer is eyeing his first pro title.

Mississippi authorities certify record Tiger Shark.

How trout nearly won the battle of Tokaruk.

The Irish Times declares that fly-tying is creating a buzz.

The closure of the Pacific tuna fisheries to commercial boats has begun.

Now is the perfect time to go for flounder.

Angler invents handy aid for fishing rods.

Why permit on the fly is so elusive.

Tackling shark fin loopholes.

Of tin, eels, and speedy reels.

Why the one that got away can't be forgotten.

Finishing with a Flourish: Forbes magazine writer Monte Burke gives us his best of fly fishing gear.

-- Dr. Todd