Saturday, April 23, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: 1958 A Year of Change

1958 -- A time of change
Today's ad in the July 1958 issue of The Fisherman Magazine symbolizes the greatest shift in fishing tackle that has taken place in my lifetime. When I started fishing with a cane pole around 1950 the grownups I knew used "old school" baitcasting reels on solid steel or occasionally, solid glass rods. Spinning was like revelation as it swept the country in the mid and late 1950's. Many baitcasting outfits were thrown away or relegated to the corner of the garage.

Certainly the graceful lines of the Mitchell 300 caught the eye of many folks including myself. It just looked like what a spinning reel was suppose to look like. Even today I am taken with its appearance. It was not without its problems; bail springs that broke fairly often, a noisy anti-reverse system and mono often found its way behind the spool. Just when it looked like baitcasting as a popular method of fishing was going the way of the horse, along came the Garcia Ambassaduer 5000. One started to see it in the hands of outdoor writers in magazines and good things were reported by word of mouth. I bought mine in 1964 and will not forget taking it out in the front yard so my Dad could try it. He was not a fisherman per se, but he loved to cast. Thirty years later he still talked about what a great reel ("that Swedish reel") he had experienced that day. Not only did the reel have new and effective anti-backlash devices but it was the first reel I remember, that was a free-spool with a star drag, that really took the country by storm. In this same issue of this magazine was an eight page article surveying available baitcasting reels. Forty six reels were discussed along with nice photos of each. Other than a couple of trolling reels, the three ABU reels shown were the only freespool reels there. Pflueger, Shakespeare and the rest were playing catch up for the next few years as they struggled to bring freespool baitcasters to market to compete with the Ambassadeur 5000.

I recieved this issue in the mail in 1958 but just like those comic books, Mom threw it away went I went off to college. I recently acquired a copy of this issue and though I had not seen it in nearly 50 years, I instantly recalled the cover photo of little Janice Gerber proudly holding up that Bluegill. Hard to believe she is 57 years old now!

-- Bill Sonnett

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