Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Review: Days of the Dalton by Jeff Windisman

This week, we will start a three week series on recent self-published fishing tackle books. We begin with a neat Florida tackle book.

For several years I've been trying to track down a self-published book by Jeff Windisman. It is called The Days of the Dalton: History and Value Guide of the Dalton Special and its Lookalikes and covers this excellent bass lure in great detail. Although first issued in 2008, it has been unavailable until recently, when I was fortunate to obtain a copy and meet the author at the recent Daytona Tackle Show.

The book did not disappoint. It was chock-full of great information not available elsewhere, and covered a lot of companies and lures I had read about but wanted more information, ranging from the Dazzy Vance Company to the somewhat mysterious Tampa Bait & Tackle Company.

But this book is really about one man and his creation, Phillip Porter Dalton, erstwhile Kentucky resident who would make his mark in the fishing world in 1930s Florida. One of the highlights of the book is getting a glimpse inside P.P. Dalton's tackle box, purchased from his daughter. In it were a number of nifty experimental lures, including some very thin minnows that harken to the Finnish Minnow being developed in Finland by men such as Lauri Rapala. I always enjoy learning about the inspiration from important lure designers, and Dalton was certainly a top notch lure man.

The first mass-marketed Dalton Special was produced by Shakespeare, based on a design patented by Dalton in 1939. Windisman goes into great detail on these lures, showing the many color permutations. Dalton transferred manufacturing rights to Florida Fishing Tackle Manufacturing Co. (makers of Barracuda brand tackle) in 1949, and the author explains this transition well, including differentiating between the Tampa and St. Pete marked baits. By the late 1950s the lure was being made in plastic, and variations like the Dalton Flash and Dalton Twist were being marketed.

The book covers so many Dalton clones it is hard to dispute the author's assertion that the Dalton Special was one of the most copied lures of all time. It is almost surreal to see how many bait makers made a version of this lure, ranging from Paw Paw to Herb Mills. Taking into account a couple of dozen unknown Dalton style lures pictured, I would bet there were at least 50 versions of the Dalton Special made. That is definitely lasting influence!

The book itself is self-published, and we always have special reviewing rules for self-published works. It would not be fair to hold them to the same standard as a traditional publisher, and this book certainly has no more typos, layout glitches, and organizational problems than most self-published works, and in fact is cleaner and more readable than a lot of them I have seen. For those interested in Florida fishing tackle, Dalton-type lures, and the history and development of fishing lure design, this book would make a great addition to your library.

The Days of the Dalton: History and Value Guide of the Dalton Special and its Lookalikes is a spiral bound hardcover, approximately 150 pages, and full color throughout. It is $45 and available directly from the author Jeff Windisman, who can be reached at: or

-- Dr. Todd

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