Monday, January 31, 2011

News of the Week: 31 January 2011

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!

Pawn Stars debate makes it to Field & Stream...Oscar nominated writer of the King's Speech is a tackle collector...strap on those eels in Northern California...Jack Emmitt is now a hall-of-famer...a fishing tackle rummage sale in brings out the perch in all of us...a great catch-and-release photo...News Corp may lose 2/3 of a billion because someone allegedly bribed a Winn Dixie exec with a fishing rod...Fly Rod & Reel's new book is reviewed...debate in Yellowstone about Lake Trout as an invasive must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Joe Cermele at Field & Stream's talks the Pawn Stars and tackle (and even references Fishing for History).

David Seidler , dedicated bamboo rod angler and collector, was nominated for an Oscar for The King's Speech.

Go big or go home at this outdoor expo.

Fishing the North Coast means strapping on an eel .

Jack Emmitt enters the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

The Okauchee Fishing Club hosts its annual fishing tackle rummage sale in Milwaukee next weekend.

Ice is bringing out the perch in all of us .

Virtual rod and reel a hit in Japan .

Ice fishing on Owen Sound Bay .

A classic catch-and-release photo .

News Corp may lose $621 million in damages in a lawsuit brought about because someone bribed a Winn Dixie executive with a fancy fishing rod …wait. What?

A run down of the latest fly rods .

A review of the new book "Love Story of the Trout, Vol. 2" which is a compilation of the best writing from Fly Rod & Reel magazine.

Finishing with a Flourish: When the Lake Trout is a menace--the lessons from the Yellowstone Cutthroat debate .

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1000 Words

1000 Words

In our next episode of Hollywood Goes Fishing, we look at one of my favorite actors and one of my all-time favorite television shows, The Larry Sanders Show, starring Garry Shandling and Rip Torn as a late night television show host and his producer. It was universally acclaimed in its six seasons on HBO (1992-1998), and won numerous awards. Rip Torn was marvelous, and received six consecutive Emmy Award nominations for his role as Artie, the acerbic producer with the big heart.

Rip's character was a dedicated fly angler, referenced a number of times, and in one scene he is talking to Donnie and Marie Osmond while tying a fly.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: G.M. Skinner (1905)

In March, 1905 The National Sportsman ran the following ad for the "Skinner's New Casting Spoon."

Already this spinner was over three decades old, but the company (which by now was being exclusively distributed by H.A. Whittemore of Boston) continued to use very old catalog cuts to advertise the spinner. This ad uses the image first developed after the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, when Skinner won a First Prize for its display and lures. This same catalog cut, and advertising copy, was used until the 1920s.

It is interesting to watch these sell on eBay. Sellers who tout this is a an "1893" spinner usually get more money per item, despite having no ability to tell if it was a ca. 1920 spinner or a ca. 1893 item. Regardless, they are sufficiently abundant, even on the card and in the envelope, so that any metal collector should be able to find one without much trouble.

Since G.M. Skinner sold over 100,000,000 spoon hooks in the over 100 years it was manufactured, it has to go down as one of the greatest lures ever made.

Rumor has it that Steve Hay's long-awaited history of Skinner will be available in the near future.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Friday Funhouse


Video of the Week

Taj Mahal sings the Fishin' Blues.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is an awesome Garrison fly rod is a real treasure.

And this Howells fly rod is another outstanding work of art.

Wow, this Snook Bait Co. Blue Mullet in the box is a superb bait.

Instant Collector Alert: this HUGE lot of saltwater baits will make some collector's year.

This Tin Liz Snake from Arbogast is one of my favorite all-time lures.

A Penn International Model 6 is a very rare reel.

A very early Penn Sea Hawk in the box is a great find.

Love these Heddon 150s in the wood box!

Early Heddon Punkinseeds are super nice.

Holy Moonlights, Batman! Incredible Pikaroon in the box.

The B.C. Milam Kentucky reel is a super baitcaster.

This brown striped spearing decoy has a lot of eye appeal.

As always, have a great weekend, and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Review of Classic Angling (Jan-Feb 2011)

A Review of the Latest Issue of CLASSIC ANGLING

Yesterday the mails brought a welcome distraction from the horrible weather we are having--the latest issue of Classic Angling. It is the January-February 2011 (No. 69) issue and I knew I'd like it because it has a painting of Lord Nelson on the cover.

Back when I was first starting graduate school, I spent a lot of time researching and writing about the Royal Navy--in fact, my Master's Thesis was on the origins of the first all-big gun battleship, the H.M.S. Dreadnought. I have an almost completed book on the subject sitting a shelf waiting for me to return to it one day...

Anyway, it certainly was not a secret that Lord Nelson was an avid angler, but Tony Bird reminds us just how much of a fishermen Nelson actually was in his very entertaining cover story "Lord Nelson, the Keen Fisherman." There's a reason Nelson's Column presides over Trafalgar Square. The article underscores why Classic Angling is unlike any other magazine out there. Only here would you find an article of this kind, and there's a reason the magazine was named magazine of the year by the U.K. Angling Writer's Association.

While there are so many small articles and blurbs it would be impossible to give a full run down, I will concentrate on outlining the features of interest. And no story is more interesting, or sad, than that of Edwin Rist, a world class musician and fly tier at the tender age of 20. In an audacious move, he broke into the Natural History Museum and stole 300 rare bird pelts, ostensibly to use and sell as salmon fly tying material. Now 22, he was captured after selling many of the rare feathers, and now faces sentencing. Very sad indeed.

Geoffrey Bucknall penned an article questioning British pike legend Dennis Pye's record northern catches. It would seem that Britain and Ireland are not immune from the controversy surrounding big catches just like the famous cases surrounding American musky anglers Percy Haver, Art Lawton, and Louis Spray.

Barrie Welham profiled caster Tommy Edwards, the always delightful Neil Freeman on the season of the coarse men, John Bailey on golden times at Magic Lake, and Judith Head on the papers of the Houghton Club.

Finally, Tom Kerr's second of three parts on the Conroys is a welcome piece of research. Classic Angling had earlier excerpted the chapter on the Conroy-Welch debate from my book Forgotten Fly Rods so much of this section will be familiar to readers of the journal.

All in all, it was another great issue. The magazine is ably edited by Keith Elliott, and is available through subscription by Clicking Here.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nine Reels and a Really Big Rod, Part II

Nine Reels and a Really Big Rod, Part II


Dr. Todd E.A. Larson

In 1915 Forest & Stream—by that time a very different monthly magazine than the weekly 19th century journal cited above—published the first segment of an often overlooked three-part history of the Kentucky reel. The article was a detailed interview with pioneer Kentucky reelmaker J.L. Sage, recounting his version of the origins of the Kentucky reel, and was penned by an anonymous author. The author recorded Sage as saying that “Jonathan [Meek] worked at the watchmaking trade, and put Benjamin at working the reels, for which there began to be a demand. They worked this way along about 1842. They followed the Sneider [sic] pattern of reel pretty closely. It was about this time that Jonathan made a reel, the end plates of which were silver dollars.” If anyone finds a Kentucky reel with side plates made of Walking Liberty silver dollars, you now know you have a true treasure on your hands.

The interview with Sage is of tremendous interest for a number of reasons, but it is the article the following month that serves as the source for another pair of historically important reels. Dr. James Henshall, famed author and the original fishing tackle historian, wrote a follow-up to the earlier article, vouching for its historical accuracy. Henshall also added the following comment on pioneering Kentucky reelmaker George Snyder, declaring “His son, David M. Snyder, was a druggist in Cynthiana when I resided there. He often talked with me about his father, and the invention of the reel. He owned his father’s favorite reel, a jeweled one, which I had in my possession until his death, I sent it to his nephew, also a druggist, in Louisville, Kentucky after the Chicago fair.” Does this Snyder reel exist today?

Henshall also described a famous reel made by J.L. Sage, whose interview served as the bulk of the earlier article. “I have also,” Henshall noted, “probably the first reel Mr. Sage made, a brass click reel, marked 1848, which he used in fly-fishing for black bass, in which art he was an adept.” Interestingly, this reel shows up again in fishing lore; Chicago Tribune outdoors writer Larry St. John described this very reel in his classic work Practical Fly Fishing (1920). St. John noted: “The earliest click reel made especially for fly fishing for bass was made by J.L. Sage of Frankfort, Ky., in 1848. It is still in excellent fishing condition and is of solid brass measuring 2 3/8 inches in diameter and 1 ¼ inches between head and tail plates. It has a permanent click which is placed in the head instead of the rear as is usual in click reels. It has an unusually sweet song. The reel was presented by Mr. Sage to Dr. Henshall during the World’s Fair at Chicago, who in turn has passed it down to the writer. Needless to say it is one of my prize possessions. The reel is pictured in the illustration showing the correct way to grasp the rod.” The famed Sage reel can thus be traced from Sage to Henshall to Larry St. John. Anyone care to try and search out any of St. John’s heirs? The pictured reel may very well be the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

A picture of the Sage reel from St. John’s book.

Fishing writer A.N. Cheney was presented a reel in 1900 by a friend of his that was reputed to have been made in 1830. His friend described it as follows: “You will see that one of the bars which hold the disks together is removable by taking out two screws in either end, and when the bar is removed a screw driver can be inserted to reach a screw hole in the reel seat, and this makes it evident that the reel was fastened to the butt of a rod with a screw.” Cheney himself described the reel as having “disks of brass and the spindle a bit of iron wire bent on the outside to form crank handle, and the reel has no click or check of any sort, but otherwise resembles a modern reel in form. The bearings on the spindle are much worn…” Not much of a description, but maybe someone recognizes the unique reel attachment method? This particular reel was deemed unique enough to display in the New York offices of Forest & Stream.

A final fascinating reel was discussed in a 1930s interview in The Hartford Courant with Horton Manufacturing treasurer Morton C. Treadway. As the article related, “Once a customer described a particular reel he couldn’t do without. The Bristol concern agreed to make it. No questions were asked. The reel, a tiny affair at least half the size of the smallest listed product, cost him $150. A check was received promptly upon delivery. Later in the summer a second check for the same amount arrived in the mail. ‘Make me another reel just like the first,’ instructed the buyer.” As an addendum, a collector who will remain anonymous has found this actual reel. Perhaps one day soon we’ll post pictures.

It is unknown whether more than one of the above mentioned reels have survived the ravages of time, just as my favorite important and (often commented upon) fishing rod seems to have gone missing, the famous “$50,000” Abbey & Imbrie rod written about so often on this blog Here and Here . It might interest tackle collectors that the official name for this piscatorial treasure is the “Abbey & Imbrie Jubilee Rod,” and that it was originally one of a matched set of five rods. As outdoor writer Emerson Hough commented in 1893 about the impending Chicago Columbian Exposition:

Mr. G.C. Hemenway, representing the well-known house of Abbey & Imbrie, was the other afternoon looking with interest at the work of installing the Abbey & Imbrie display of fine rods, the queen bee of which is a magnificent production known as the ‘Jubilee Rod.’ The rod is one of five made by Abbey & Imbrie for display in the Queen’s jubilee exposition in London. The other four were sold in London at $2,000 each, and brought the American house $75,000 trade besides. This rod now in Chicago is the equal of the others in all respects. It is a perfectly-made split-bamboo, faultless and ornamental to an unsurpassable degree. Even the ferrule plugs are exquisitely engraved. The precious metals only are used in the trimmings and fittings, the grip being of pure gold, richly and deeply chased. The butt of the rod contains a cut topaz the size of a pigeon egg and worth alone $1,200.

Keep in mind if you begin searching for a Jubilee rod of your own, you have an 80% better chance of finding one across the Atlantic than you do in America. Add a J.L. Sage brass click reel marked 1848 and you will really have yourself a combination!

There are certainly other important and famous reels out there, some even residing in ORCA member’s collections, and it would be great to hear some of their stories. In the future, I will relate one final famous reel story—the mystery of the Thomas Chubb Prehistoric Iron Winch Reel. But that is a story for another day.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Breaking Down the Fishing Tackle on Pawn Stars

Breaking Down the Fishing Tackle on Pawn Stars

On a recent episode of the History Channel show Pawn Stars, the hosts of the show entertained an offer to buy some vintage fishing tackle. Although the segment lasted less than five minutes, it spawned quite an uproar on-line about how badly one of the owners, Rick Harrison, got taken when he spent $1000 on the fishing tackle.

But did they really get screwed?

Being the anal-retentive kind of guy I am, I broke down the segment to see what exactly the Harrisons bought for their $1000. Taking a variety of screen shots, let's break down the segment to see exactly what they bought.

Rick checks out the whole display.

Looks like about 100 lures.

Starting off nice with a pair of Heddon Punkinseed Spooks.

Our first blurb.

First strike--reproduction beer can lures.

A look at some of the baits. One sticks out to me. Can you guess which one?

Close up of the bottom of the case.

The right side.

There she is: Heddon Torpedo Spook in Green Crackleback--and that idiotic Mac Daddy lure reference.

Bingo! Wood Heddon Punkinseed and Mouse Crazy Crawler.

Close up of the Heddon Torpedo Spook.

A nice River Runt Spook Sinker in Red Head/Silver Flitter.

Close up.

Heddon Hep Spinner -- nothing to look at here.

Crazy Crawler spooks.

Nice pic of about 2/3 of the case.


Aerial shot.

A happy owner; $1000 richer.

So having looked carefully at this case, here's what I think is there:

Heddon Crazy Crawler in Grey Mouse
Heddon Punkinseed Spook in Crappie
Heddon Punkinseed Spook in Bluegill
3 Modern Beer Can Lures
Heddon Crazy Crawler Spook in Bullfrog
Shurkatch Bass Oreno Style Wood Lure
Bomber (Possibly Wooden)
Heddon Crazy Crawler Spook in Bullfrog
Heddon Crazy Crawler Spook in Bird
Heddon Tiny Tad
L&S Shiner
Heddon Torpedo Spook in Green Crackleback
Thin Fin
Heddon Spinner
Heddon Baby Lucky 13 Spook in Red Head/Perch
Heddon Mouse Spook
Heddon River Runt Spook Sinker in Yellow Shore Minnow
South Bend Midget Bass Oreno in Silver Scale
Heddon Baby Lucky 13 Spook in Bullfrog
Heddon Baby Lucky 13 Spook in Perch
Heddon Baby Lucky 13 Spook in Perch
Heddon Torpedo Spook in Red Head/White
Heddon Torpedo Spook in Red Head/White
Heddon Torpedo Spook in Smokey Joe
Heddon Midget River Runt Spook in White Shore Minnow
Heddon Midget River Runt Spook in White Shore Minnow
Heddon Midget Digit Spook in Black Shore Minnow
Bomber Water Dog in Yellow Shore Minnow
Paw Paw Fly Rod Oreno-Type in Perch Scale
Heddon Midget River Runt Spook in Red Head/Silver Flitter
Arbogast Hula Popper in Yellow Shore Minnow
Heddon 740 Punkinseed in Sunfish
Eger Dillinger
24+ Metal Spoons and Spinners

So…if you had to buy these individually on eBay, what would you pay? Or if you sold them, and got an average to above-average return, what would you get? From what we can see there are 35 collectable lures (with the chances that there might be more not pictured as the far left side was never completely pictured). There are two valuable lures--the 740 Punkinseed and the Torpedo Spook in Green Crackleback. There are some very nice lures, including the 9630 Punkinseed Spooks, Crazy Crawler in Mouse, River Runt Spook, etc. If you allocate $150 for the 740 and $100 for the Green Crackleback Torpedo (a rare color on any Heddon spook), and $50 each for the 9630s, Crazy Crawler, and River Runt Spook, you are at $450 and have 30 collectable lures to go. Average $10 each for these (not a stretch) and you are at $750, not counting any metal and spinners, or the case.

So my best guess is $750-$1000. Which means that in my opinion, Rick paid market price for these baits. With a little luck on the big five (I've seen 740s in that shape go over $200 on eBay), he might actually make money on this deal.

Would I have bought it? Not at that price. I certainly would have thought about it for his original offer of $600. But although the $1000 was a high price, it was not a ridiculous one…

Don't believe me? Check out the episode in its entirety by Clicking Here.

And thanks to Pawn Stars for spreading the gospel of vintage fishing tackle! Check them out on their web site linked above and on the History Channel, check your listings for times.

So what do you think???

-- Dr. Todd


That didn't take long. Our first response comes from Colby Sorrels, who writes:

SEED MONEY! Yes, they paid what seems like a lot of money for that group of lures and Dr. Todd has shown that it is only marginally too high and maybe not at all. But if you think of it as seed money it does not seem high at all. Just think, they bought a country wide TV commercial that shows they buy old fishing lures and pay well for them. Who among us would not gather up $1,000 to run such a commercial? Looks like well spent seed money to me. Think of all of the people that have old fishing lures and they are thinking " Wow. I've got a bunch of old lures to get rid of. I think I'll find a way to get them to Pawn Stars". It only takes one really good lure walking in to pay for that $1,000. That commercial would have cost maybe millions if they had bought the time. Not a bad investment at all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

News of the Week: 24 January 2011

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!

20 Questions with the Lindners…the IGFA record book is out…Henley's Hairdressers and Tackle Shop…stinky baits…cold weather impacting angling in Britain…Cincinnati Sports Show is in action…the Tautog…Aussies and their illegal rod holders…a video on how to tie flies…grumpy old men get off the ice…San Diego's Lakeside Bait & Tackle…does Costa Rica have sustainable fishing?…it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: 20 Questions with Al and Ron Lindner.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer profiles the annual IGFA World Record game fish book.

Remembering Henley's hairdresser…and tackle shop?

From live croaker to stinky plastics.

Why the cold winter will impact angling in Britain.

The Cincinnati Sports Show has tackle sellers for the first time in years.

Profiling the Tautog.

A video on how to tie flies.

In Australia, your rod holder may be illegal if not fitted properly.

Is there no room for grumpy old men on the ice?

On the hook with the master tangler.

Profiling San Diego's Lakeside Bait & Tackle.

Finishing with a Flourish: Getting to the bottom of fishing sustainability in Costa Rica.

-- Dr. Todd