Deconstructing Old Ads: Live Bait and Red Thread (1920)
Today's ad from the April 1920 issue of Sporting Goods Dealer reminds me of a couple of aspects of bass fishing that have disappeared in my lifetime. The first is the large number of bass fisherman who for much of the last century depended on live frogs, minnows, crayfish and many other forms of live bait. How often today do you find someone fishing with live frogs for bass? Unless one lives near the right habitat, procuring a supply of live frogs may not be all that easy. I have had several folks, now in their eighties, tell me that they made money as boys catching and selling live frogs to local bait dealers. One gentlemen recently told me that his father maintained a large pit in a wet, grassy swale, where he daily removed and sold the harvest of stranded frogs. Well folks, the Anglers Company from Chicago, Illinois has come to your rescue if live frogs, minnows, crayfish are unavailable. They not only sold live bait, but many varieties of preserved baits that could be called on, at a moment's notice.
What really caught my eye in this advertisement is the pork rind bait pictured with yarn tied around it. Toward the bottom of the advertisement, the statement is made that, “All Pork Rind Baits are properly strung with red yarn.” If you are a reader of articles and books on bass fishing that were written between 1900 and 1960, you will have regularly come across advice to thread some red yarn through a pork chunk or pork frog to make it more effective. Indeed it was not too long ago that such pork rind baits with red yarn were still available from Uncle Josh, though I have not seen them of late. Just the other day someone posted a picture on Joe's Board of a 1905 Heddon #100 with gobs of red hair or cloth tied to each of the hooks. A few years ago when pre-1920 tackle boxes were still turning up regularly, it was not unusual to see underwater minnows with a strip of red felt or yarn attached to each hook. The thinking was that red felt, red yarn or red painted on a plug represented blood trailing in the water, indicating to a bass that the bait represented an easy meal. Lately the same idea has been put forth in using red hooks on lures. (there are very few “new” ideas in fishing tackle, most are recycled).
Recently, in two prominent fishing magazines, I saw the following question asked of two different “Professional Fishermen” --- “If red monofilament line is advertised as being nearly invisible underwater, why are red fish hooks advertised as being an attractor to bass?”
Nether time was there anything approaching a clear answer given to this question.
-- Bill Sonnett
Mike Pollock forwarded me the following pics of the actual pork rind tin with the thread wrapped around the bait. Thanks, Mike, for letting us see this rare piece of pork rind tackle!