Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.
For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!
Who would have thought we'd be profiling not one but two Arizona trade houses in the first two months? Such is the sad state of knowledge concerning Southwestern fishing tackle. First it was the Yellow Front Stores which had a huge presence throughout the Southwest and sold a wide variety of fishing tackle under the "Arizona Sportsman" brand. Today, we feature the Yates Army/Navy Surplus Stores, which morphed into the Yates Sporting Goods company.
L.V. Yates founded the company in 1946 as an army/navy surplus store along with his parents and his new wife. Born in Putnam, Texas, he took to the trade quickly and with great energy, and soon owned a number of stores in the greater Phoenix region. These stores serve as a wonderful memory for numerous Arizona sportsmen growing up in the region, and were filled with sporting goods and surplus items. The Phoenix store at 40th Street and Thomas even had a defused bomb in front of it.
The company sold a great deal of fishing tackle. Early ads from the 1950s hawked tackle, and this one from The Arizona Republic dated 16 May 1959 pomotes Zebco reels and Conolon Missilite rods at deeply discounted prices. In fact, this ad shows three stores and bills them as "Cut Rate Army & Navy Stores."
By the 1960s, the company changed its name to Yates Sporting Goods and as this advertisement from the same paper dated March 23, 1968 shows, they carried a ton of fishing tackle. Heddon, Shakespeare, Walton, Zebco and others were featured prominently.
Of great interest in this ad is the panel referencing "Yates Sportsman's Paradise Monofilament Line." This is because it is this exact spool I was able to recently pick up off eBay. It bills itself as "Designed and Made For Yates" and the trade name used was "Yates Sportsman's Paradise" casting line. It's a nifty spool, but is NOT monofilament but braided nylon, implying it came from an earlier time than this ad. I suspect this spool dates to around 1960.
I would not be surprised to find other Yates branded fishing tackle, in particular I would bet there are some Yates fishing rods out there waiting to be properly identified. We also know there were at least two kinds of line spools, including Mono and Braided Nylon ones.
The latest reference in the newspapers I can find for Yates Sporting Goods is 1973, but I suspect they lasted longer, perhaps as much as a decade.The owner L.V. Yates became a true Arizona outdoor legend. Active in numerous charities, he also hosted the "Know Your Resources" workshops for over three decades, teaching urban children about the abundance of nature. He was honored for his efforts by being named to the Arizona Outdoor Hall-of-Fame, and a large stretch of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve is now known as the L.V. Yates Trail. Yates (1919-2009) passed away on December 17, 2009 -- and left a massive legacy of good works behind him.
This is why I love trade tackle. In a small way, branded items like the Yates Sportsman's Paradise line spool put us in touch with the men and women who dedicated their lives to the sporting trade, and who in many cases (like L.V. Yates) made a difference in life.
What better way to honor their legacy than to learn, and appreciate, their works?
-- Dr. Todd