Friday, December 31, 2010

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

Watch the Bluefin Rodeo from Nova Scotia, ca. 1953 and see some big Bluefins, and some awesomely large reels!

Things I Would Buy if Only I Could Afford Them

This is an exceptionally rare Fred Rhodes Casting Minnow.

Heddon Closed Leg Luny Frogs are rare, but especially in red-and-white. Plus, I think he's looking at you…

What would New Year's Eve be without Champagne?

Winston were known for their great rods; this reel is a beauty, though.

A Heddon River Runt Spook in Waterwave? Oh my, and in the correct box!

Speaking of rare River Runt Spooks, check out this XBY variant.

A Phillipson Paragon is a paragon of fly rods.

This strange spinner known as the Walton Speed Bait is always popular.

A Vom Hofe 621 in the box is always a great find.

Hurd Super Casters have a lot of fans, and this one in original shipping carton is a wonderful find.

Billy Pate made some great big game reels.

I like this Meisselbach Tripart #581.

I like this CCBC Fly Rod Dingbat in the box.

This Open Mouth Shiner is a terrific bait in the intro box.

This is a really cool old "Lighter Than Cork" fly rod minnow in the box…anyone know anything about this?

Well, that's it for 2010! Thanks to the 10,000+ individual readers who stop by every week for allowing me to indulge in my passion. Have a great and safe New Year's Eve and a prosperous and healthy 2011. And above all else, please be good to each other, and yourself, in all of your days.

Happy New Year!

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Review: Fred Sweeney's Creek Speak

Thursday Review: Fred Sweeney's Creek Speak

Today we are going to review a very educational lure web site on one of my favorite companies, the Creek Chub Bait Company. It was designed and built by Fred Sweeney and it's called "CreekSpeak," and it basically covers all things Creek Chub.

The web site is divided into seven sections, including Educational, Virtual Lure Show, More Creek Chub, and Show 'n Tell.

The first of these--Educational--covers sixteen separate articles on various aspects of Creek Chub lures. They include great articles on the history of CCBC, early metal CCBC baits, grading CCBC lures, Shur Strike rarities, CCBC Direction Cards, and a bunch of other materials. It's incredibly comprehensive and very, very interesting.

The Virtual Lure Show covers a series of baits, the current issue includes the #300 Crawdad, the #400 Baby Crawdad, and the #500 Open Mouth Shiner. Like all the pages, it has useful color photos and descriptive text.

The More Creek Chub is my favorite page. It contains photos of boxes and cartons, signs and displays, catalogs and flyers, and other misc. tackle collectables related to CCBC. It is really nice to see someone who pays enough attention to detail on a site like this, where it would have been easy to overlook a printing block, for example. Here, we get an awesome compilation of materials.

The Show 'n Tell section covers photos of some really rare and beautiful CCBC baits, for example a #3300 Sarasota in Silver Flash.

Overall CreekSpeak is an incredibly informative and useful web site. It has a ton of information vital to CCBC collectors, and is easily navigable. Many kudos to Fred Sweeney for taking the time to put this web site up for all CCBC and tackle collectors.

CreekSpeak can be found byClicking Here.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Early Fishing Tackle Auction

An Early Fishing Tackle Auction

There's been some discussion of early tackle collections before, but this ad--dated 02 July 1922 and printed in the Salt Lake City Tribune--references an interesting sale by W.H. Adams Auctioneers. It references a sporting collection owned by a Mr. Daggett that was appraised "the finest collection of sporting goods in the state owned by a private individual...the collection consist of guns, fishing tackle..." It contained some great tackle and shows the kind of tackle kit a wealthy sportsman might have ca. 1920.

Here is a partial list of tackle that Mr. Daggett had accumulated:

-- One eighteen foot "split bamboo fly rod made by Conroy, Bissett & Malleson."

-- One fifteen foot "Irish fly rod, split bamboo, by same maker."

-- One eight foot split bamboo tarpon rod "made by Nichols."

-- One nine foot split bamboo sea bass rod, "Leonard make, the inventor of split bamboo rods."

-- One eight foot split bamboo heavy trolling rod, "English make."

-- One nine foot heavy steel trolling rod, "Horton make."

-- One eight foot light steel bass casting rod, "Horton make."

-- One eight ounce, nine foot trout fly rod, "made by Conroy, Bissett & Malleson."

-- One 5 1/2 ounce nine foot "full silk wrapped trout fly rod, carved handle and reel plate, a strictly hand-made rod."

-- One split bamboo trolling or bait casting rod.

-- One split bamboo light rod.

-- Seven reels for all kinds of fishing.

-- Nets, gaff hooks, creek tackle, boxes, fly books, stock books, butt rests for seat of belt and lots of other fishing tackle.

It looks like the kind of auction that one could find a few bargains! And it also looks like Mr. Daggett did not scrimp on his fishing tackle. Keep in mind Conroy, Bissett & Malleson tackle was already forty years old at the time of this auction, so it was already vintage. I wonder what reels he had to go with those fly rods?

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Voices from the Past: Larry Koller (1938)

We've spent a lot of time covering the early years of Larry Koller of late, but I'd be remiss not to reprint this early article on the subject of bass bugging with a fly rod. Much of what Koller wrote back then is still applicable today. It was published, like much of his early work in the Middletown Times-Herald, this particular one from June of 1938.

To read the original posts Click Here and for the update Click Here; for the first Voices from the Past article Click Here.


by Larry Koller

The fly rod for bass fishing has developed during the past few years into a tool designed for a specific purpose. Early bug fishermen used the regulation type of trout rod of about nine feet in length with medium action. Since the development of bass bug fishing as an accepted and highly successful method of taking both species of bass, the rod makers have been putting forth more effort to produce rods just for this style of fly casting and at a price within the reach of the fishing public.

The rod ideally suited to handling a bass bug must have a greater casting power and more length than trout rods. The big flies and bugs offer a great deal of air resistance and can only be handled with a heavy line. This line of course necessitates a rod of ample power to make a well balanced outfit. Then, too, the large hooks require a heavy strike to set them in the tough mouth of a large bass. Length is needed to give easy pickup and quick striking ability, for most bass bugging is done from a boat with the caster in a sitting position, placing the rod in a lower position relative to the water surface.

Bass fishing causes severe strain on the rod to which the ordinary trout rod is not subjected. Serrated ferrules are almost a necessity, in order to eliminate any possibility of breakage at the ferrule which is a common occurrence with the shouldered type. A good rod for bass under general lake fishing conditions should be about nine and one half feet long, weighing about 6 1/2 ounces. Such a tool, equipped with tungsten guides and tops together with a screw type locking reel seat and serrated ferrules is the last word in bug rods.

Next in order of importance is the line. A rod of the type just described will handle well with a size C level line, preferably with an oil-waterproof finish. There is sufficient weight in a line of this size to handle any of the larger lures even against a breeze. The more particular angler will prefer a Big-Head or Torppedo Head tapered line in size GBG for his bug casting as it will give greater distance with less effort than any level line. Such a line is constructed with the heavy portion in the forward end in order to unpart maximum earning power.

Either type of line wifl give good results after an application of line dressing for the line MUST float in order to set the hook and to give clean pickup for the cast.

The reel can be single action, large enough to comfortably carry the line and balance the rod. The automatic is preferred bv many bass fishermen for its quality of giving complete control of slack line. The choice in a reel is largely a matter of personal preference for it serves no purpose other than to hold the remaining line which is not used in actual casting. However, no matter which type is used single action or automatic, a reel large enough to carry the line without crowding should be selected. Jamming a large line on a small reel will soon strip off the finish, ruining the line beyond repair.

Leaders should be either 4 1/2 or six feet long, and of six to ten pound test. For the beginner, the shorter leader will handle the easiest, but under some conditions, the long leader will produce more strikes. Only genuine silkworm gut should be chosen for bug fishing as it retains its full strength after soaking and gives a certain amount of spring to the cast which helps to lay a straight line. The artificial or knotless type of gut possesses neither of these qualities and in addition, can not be depended upon to give good satisfaction after it has been used once. Natural gut, on the other hand, will retain its strength and elasticity for a whole season if it is kept always moist.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, December 27, 2010

News of the Week: 27 December 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!

A day fishing with Lefty Kreh...a new Irish fly angling book...Dayton Hunting & Fishing Show gets cancelled...Minnesotan tells New Yorkers how to ice fish...Sacramento native crafts fishing lures by hand...a New Jersey teen fish art and writing contest...Florida outdoor writer's joke about fly fishing goes over one reader's head...South Bend--NOT making lures since the must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: A day fishing with the legendary Lefty Kreh.

A review of the new Irish fishing book Irish Rise: Reflections On Lough & Stream.

2010 was a year to remember in outdoor news.

Bad News: the Dayton Hunting & Fishing Show gets cancelled.

A Minnesota Ice Angler tells New Yorkers how it's done.

Sacramento native crafts homemade fishing tackle.

How a shark attack helped a woman win a contest.

New Jersey teens can enter a new fish art and writing contest.

How to apply technology to the sport of ice fishing.

Florida outdoor writer's joke about "fly fishing for flies" goes over the head of one Floridian.

Finishing with a Flourish: South Bend -- NOT making lures since the 1800s.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Toy (Plus Fishing Tackle)

My Favorite Christmas Toy (Plus Fishing Tackle)

Although Christmas was technically yesterday, we are all in the Christmas spirit still. So today I'm going to give you a link to a whole bunch of great Christmas catalogs from the 1940s-1980s. Some of these catalogs have fishing tackle, like the followings ones:

1942 Spiegel Christmas Catalog

1945 Sears Toy Fishing Set

1955 Spiegel Bache Brown

My favorite toy as a kid was the Vertibird Rescue Ship. I couldn't find a commercial for it, but here's a picture:

Sooooo... did you find your favorite toy in these catalogs?

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Angling Poem

A repost from the past (and this year even printed in Crappie Angler magazine!). I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and overall glad tidings to everyone in this holiday season! 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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Your 2nd Annual Christmas Eve Song List

Your 2nd Annual Christmas Eve Song List

Here's our 2nd annual list of Christmas Songs That Don't Suck, Rankin-Bass Edition!

Click here for the classic Christmas Songs That Don't Suck (2009 Edition).

As a child of the 1970s, I grew up without the 800+ channels of satellite TV or the internet. Cartoons were a rarity, and only played on special occasions, like Christmas. So many of these great TV specials were produced by the great Rankin-Bass company, so this year I thought I would give you some of my favorite Cartoon Christmas Songs.

I'll Have A Blue Christmas Without You (1974)

I always liked The Year Without A Santa Claus, but most people seem to enjoy the Heat Miser and Snow Miser songs more. I always liked this one best.

We Are Santa's Elves (1964)

From the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer comes this wonderfully cheerful song, from Santa's elf choir.

Christmas Time is Here (1965)

What list would be complete without A Charlie Brown Christmas? A melancholy holiday tune, but memorable in every way. It captures childhood Christmas as well as anything.

Christmas Chimes Are Calling Santa (1974)

The animated special 'Twas the Night Before Christmas was also a big favorite of mine, largely because of the song Christmas Chimes Are Calling Santa. Poor quality video below (audio is fine, though); I suggest clicking on this link to see the video.

The 12 Days of Christmas (1979)

While not a cartoon, I included this because, well, because I can. From the outstanding Muppets & John Denver Christmas Special, comes this great rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas.

It Feels Like Christmas (1992)

From one of the great underrated Christmas movies, The Muppet Christmas Carol, comes this song It Feels Like Christmas.

CBS Christmas Greeting (1966)

This is a classic CBS Christmas message in a classic animated style by R.O. Blechman.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)

The incomparable Fred Astair narrated this classic, originally made famous by Gene Autry, the singin' cowboy.

The Christmas Song (1961)

This is a repeat from last year, but it fits the bill so I will post it again. A true classic from The Chipmunks.

Put the Lights on the Tree (2006)

And I would be remiss not to give what I think is a modern classic, Sufjan Stevens' Put the Lights on the Tree.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Review: Jean Lane Cresswell's Made For Fishermen By A Fisherman: The Phillips Fly and Tackle Company

Thursday Review:
Jean Lane Cresswell's Made For Fishermen By Fishermen: The Phillips Fly and Tackle Company

Today I am going to review a book published a couple of years ago but  flew under the radar. Jean Lane Cresswell's Made For Fishermen By A Fisherman: The Phillips Fly and Tackle Company, Alexandria, Pennsylvania (Huntingdon County Historical Society, 2007) tells the story of one of the unsung tackle firms of the mid-20th century. Phillips was a surprisingly large tackle firm that left an indelible impact on the Huntingdon region, even if it is not well known today.

The author's father was a frequent fishing companion of George Phillips Jr., the founder of the firm, so she writes from a position of personal authority. The company was founded in 1937 in Alexandria by local fishing aficionado Phillips. A former Firestone Tire salesman, he learned fly tying from George Harvey and went into business as a commercial tier, soon after hiring 18 women to do the tying for him. By the start of WWII Phillips Fly & Tackle was a success.

Creswell is best in describing how Phillips was one of the first firms to adjust to the post-war boom in spin fishing. Having moved into plastic lures, they soon became noted for their small (quarter ounce) spin sized lures. By the early 1950s Phillips was selling a full line of fly rod and spinning lures, including the Forty-Niner, Flash-o-Minno, and Crippled Killer. This was in addition to 3600 kinds of flies in all sizes. At it's height Phillips produced 200,000 lures per year.

1950 ad for Crippled Killer.

Sadly, George Phillips Jr. died of cancer in 1955 at the age of 43. The company came under new management and continued producing lures, moving to Hartslog Valley in 1960. Phillips introduced one of it's most popular lures in the early 1960s with the Rainbow Runner. The firm continued on until 1981, when it was purchased by Tom Gaines. Gaines still markets several Phillips lures including the Crippled Killer today.

Phillips Crippled Killer.

Phillips Rainbow Runner.

Phillips Forty-Niners.

Despite some rather glaring errors that reflect Miss Cresswell's lack of experience with the tackle field (including references to "Haddon" and "Creek Club" tackle), the book is a marvellous glimpse at a mid-size American tackle company and it's impact on a small American town. Profusely illustrated, this little gem deserves a wider audience among tackle collectors and fishing history buffs alike.

The book is 58 pages and has color and black-and-white images. It is available in a limited print run from the Huntingdon County Historical Society at a cost of $14.95. It is well worth the price.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to Find A Samuel Phillippe Rod (Kind Of)

How to Find A Samuel Phillippe Rod (Kind Of)

It's weird how some things work out. I have already alerted readers to the epic Samuel Phillippe thread over on the Classic Fly Rod Forum. over on the Classic Fly Rod Forum. So much great information from Tom Kerr, John Elder, Charlie Fleischmann, et al.

Anyway, it was mentioned that the New York Angler's Club had a Phillippe rod that was destroyed in a fire in the early 1970s. I casually posted that I thought a photo of this rod probably existed, but no one seemed to have ever seen one.

Keep in mind this forum gets pretty much every major thinker/researcher on bamboo fly rods in the world. It's the largest fly fishing web site in the world, and I figured if no one who was reading the thread had seen it, then maybe it didn't exist.

About a week ago, I was talking to a lure collector friend in New York. He knows very little about vintage rods, in fact he passes them up all the time while hunting down old New York metal lures. Anyway, he asked what I'd been up to, and I mentioned how busy I have been. Somehow the subject turned to Phillippe, and the New York Angler's Club rod that was burned in the fire. As a fairly prominent (if somewhat reclusive) New York angler, he knows/knew a lot of the NYAC guys. I laughed and jokingly said, "you wouldn't happen to have a picture of that rod, would you?"

"No," he replied, "But I remember seeing one about thirty years ago in a book."

Dead silence. Was he talking about the rod by Solon Phillippe--Samuel's son--that had been pictured many times over the years? That must be it. I told him he was talking about the rod on the back of Marty Keane's book.

"No," he responded somewhat curtly, "It was a picture of the Samuel Phillippe rod that burned in the fire."

Deep breath. My friend is what we might gently call "elderly" but I have never known to have a forgotten anything. Ever.

But this was weird. I pride myself on owning everything known that's been written on bamboo fly rod history--at least everything that's been referenced in works. I would clearly have remembered a picture of an original Phillippe rod.

"Do you happen to recall where you saw it?"

A moment of silence. "Of course." Another pause.

"Uhm, would you mind sharing with me where it was?"

"I'm thinking," he said. A few seconds passed.

"It was in a National Geographic book."


"Yes, it was in a book of fishes. Must have been the 1960s or early 1970s. It was pictured in one of those glossy fish books they were so famous for."

Wow. Now, I would never accuse my friend of "misremembering," but a National Geographic book of fishes? Really?

Well, after our conversation ended I did some research, typing in "National Geographic" and "Fishes." It did not take long to pinpoint a very popular, and oft-reprinted, book of fishes published by National Geographic. It was called "Wondrous World of Fishes," and amazingly enough, it contained a chapter called "Angling in the United States" by none other than Luis Marden.

Yes, THAT Luis Marden, of The Angler's Bamboo fame. He was the first man in 50 years to go to China to photograph and write about the origins of Tonkin cane...and I think was a member of the NYAC.

I was pretty sure I was on to something, but I tried to lower expectations...

I ordered a copy of the book on-line. It cost me $.99 plus shipping...and arrived less than a week after ordering. In fact, it arrived yesterday. And when I opened it, I opened it to the very page containing the following picture:

Unbelievable. A picture of the New York Angler's Club Phillippe rod...a rod that no longer exists. A rod destroyed over 35 years ago. The photo was run on a page showing the dining room of the New York Angler's Club with a caption that said: "Below, the club president (left) and author Marden examine a fly rod made a century ago by Samuel Phillippe, father of the split cane rod in America."

So there you have it. In a book first published in the early 1960s comes a photo of the rod that died. And I have my friend's incredible memory to thank for it, because I can promise you I would never, ever have found it. A National Geographic book? Really? Really!

And just like that, the Samuel Phillippe story takes another fascinating twist.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Voices from the Past: World's Smallest Fly Rod? (1890)

Well, here at the Fishing for History Blog we are fascinated by extremes. Here we have what was touted at the time as the smallest fly rod in the world, a three feet model made in Japan -- and which came with a barbless fly. The article was run in The New York Sun in July, 1890. While not as small as the novelty fly rod we wrote about last year, it is still a small fly rod and reminds me of the bantam rod made by modern maker Chris Lantzy. I believe the shop referenced was Thomas J. Conroy's. Here's the blurb in full:

In the window of a fishing tackle store in Fulton street is displayed a fly rod three feet long, and tapering from the thickness of a lady's pencil at the butt to the size of a pin at the tip. It is made of Japanese bamboo with a tip of whalebone. There are three joints in the rod. The line of the length of the rod is of fine gut. At the end of it dangles a tiny yellow fly, concealing a barbless hook. The rod was made in Japan, and is a specimen of those in use there in the capture of minnows, which are regarded as a delicacy by the natives.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, December 20, 2010

News of the Week: 20 December 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!

Super Cow shatters world record...Iowa letting citizens eat bad fish?...NY Supreme Court rules against coastal fishing license...IGFA has new length category...last minute gifts...high school kid teaches the kids to love the outdoors...Wigan man goes to jail for defrauding tackle fishing is a nice alternative...Scottish fishermen who spearheaded government scheme to catch illegal fish dumping gets caught dumping must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Catch of "Super Cow" shatters world record.

Iconic Wetumpka tackle shop reopens.

Iowa is allowing people to eat fish the US EPA finds too risky.

The New York Supreme Court rules against coastal fishing license.

The IGFA inaugurates a new length category for World Records.
Perseverance pays off in fishing, writing and in life.

An interesting piece on collecting (with a tackle box reference to boot).

The Redding Record gives help in finding a last minute tackle gift.

The history of the News Chief outdoor column.

A Proctor High School (MN) student teaches kids to experience the outdoor.

Buying a no-more backlash fishing reel.

One of Melbourne's best kept secrets.

Wigan man goes to jail for defrauding tackle company.

Surf Fishing offers an alternative on cold days.

Louisiana Redfishing is better than ever.

Finishing with a Flourish: Scottish angler who spearheaded government issue to stop catch dumping gets caught...dumping catches.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, December 19, 2010

1000 Words

1000 Words

The 1930s and 1940s was an era of "pinup" art and photography. This aesthetic was utilized in fishing magazines as well, as evidenced by this 1940 Sports Afield photo featuring this female Florida angler.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The History of the F.C. Woods "Expert" Minnow in Ads

The History of the F.C. Woods "Expert" Minnow in Ads

Ads can often be misleading, especially when older pictures are used from years prior. The most famous example of this is the use of illustrations from the 1920s in Heddon catalogs from the 1950s. However this is not the case with the advertisements used by F.C. Woods during the few years that they produced baits. These baits though carrying the name F.C. Woods & Co were the product of Charles Shaffer. In an earlier column we showed this 1901 ad from Field & Stream for the Holzwarth Expert. This was Mr Shaffer's first commercial effort and was marketed by the Holzwarth Hardware of Alliance, Ohio.

Toward the end of 1901, Mr Shaffer (a silent partner) turned the manufacture and sales of the "Expert" over to F.C. Woods, owner of the Woods Engineering Co., located also in Alliance. In 1902 Mr. Holzwarth still sold a bait under his own name but had to call it the "Holzwarth Minnow." The name "Expert" was now reserved for the F.C. Woods & Co product. F.C. Woods made not only the Woods "Expert" but also the Holzwarth Minnow, the only difference being that one was now stamped "Holzwarth" on the side and the other stamped "Expert." F.C. Woods & Co introduced the new Wood's Expert to the trade in the following ad from the January 1902 issue of the Sporting Goods Dealer. Take note that there are no holes in the Spinners and the hooks are not removable.

Mr. Shaffer applied for a patent in November of 1902 which included the idea of perforated spinners. As the following ad from the June 1903 issue of Field & Stream shows that the patent was granted. The ad prominently features the claims for perforated spinners and removable hooks.

The 1904 ad shown next is from the May 1904 issue of National Sportsman. It shows few changes if any to the Expert. It was, by all accounts, the best selling minnow in the United States at this point; however things were starting to stir in Dowagiac, Michigan in the form of the Heddon #100

After a long search by many people a 1905 ad for the Woods Expert was finally located by our good friend Joe Stagnetti. This ad appeared in the May 1905 issue of Field & Stream and shows the Expert as having a larger spinner in front and a smaller spinner on the rear. It also claims that they have been making them for "Ten Years." Hmmmm….thought they just claimed it was new in 1902? Well, Mr. Shaffer had been fooling around with the bait for some time for his own personal use.

The February 1906 Sporting Goods Dealer carried the following ad for the Woods Expert which now sported new spinners that, with the exception of the holes, look very much like those on that pesky competitor out in Dowagiac. It is obvious that they were feeling the competition and the ad contained the warning "Look out for imitations." After seeing the "new spinners" it appears that F.C. Woods & Co was doing a little imitating themselves.

The last ads to appear for the Wood's Expert appeared in 1907. As shown in this May 1907 ad from National Sportsman, the big change for the 1907 season was the new "Double Hook." Heddon was now dominating the underwater minnow business with superior paint jobs and hardware that did not allow the hook to scratch the paint. This appears to be an attempt to stay competitive, but changes were coming very fast from other lure companies, My guess is that Charles Shaffer (who worked for the Post Office) and F.C. Woods (who ran a large and very successful machine company) simply decided to sell the rights to the Expert (in this case to the C.A. Clark Manufacturing Co) and move on.

-- Bill Sonnett