Saturday, April 30, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Tilden Robb

Tilden Robb

If one were to throw out the following names (which should be familiar to all students of vintage tackle) : Al Foss, Fred Arbogast, William Stanley, William Jamison, Goodwin Granger, Call McCarthy, Bill Phillipson and Tilden Robb and then ask what were they famous for other than having their names associated with fishing tackle, even some collectors of vintage tackle might have difficulty coming up with the answer. The fact is, in their day they were just as famous for being world record holders as well as many-times national champions in the sport of tournament casting. It is hard today to realize how popular the sport of tournament casting once was. This sport was particularly popular in cities where access to fishing waters was not easily available. Many major cities had casting clubs and public casting pools where experts and common folk alike practiced with flyrod and baitcasting outfits in both distance and accuracy events. I've always noticed that the tournament casters that invented lures started with small heavy, easy-to-cast baits such as the Arbogast Tin Liz, the Heddon-Stanley Ace, the Al Foss Little Egypt and the Tony Accetta Pet spoon. No flatfish or other hard-to-cast baits here!

Tilden Robb is most recognized today by the Shakespeare lure that was named in his honor. It is shown here in an ad from the April 1925 issue of Tackle Magazine, which was an advertising instrument of the Shakespeare Company. He should also be remembered as one of the co-inventors and earliest manufacturers of the short baitcasting rod that became associated with the Kalamazoo Casting Club. He went into partnership with William Locher, a prominent sporting goods dealer in Kalamazoo Michigan. William Locher is also listed on patents as co-inventor of the Shakespeare's Wooden Revolution in 1900, as well as the Aluminum Revolution that followed in 1901. When one looks at the earliest baitcasting tournament records, the make of the reel and the rod used is listed for each participant. Over and over the name of the rod used is “L&R”, which stands for Locher and Robb. Today's ad for Locher and Robb short baitcasting rods is from the May 1906 issue of National Sportsman. It features none other than Mrs Tilden Robb nattily attired in the fishing fashion of the day.

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week

An awesome history of Jenkins Fly Rod company.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

This is one sweet A&F Payne fly rod.

I'm not familiar with this very rare Colmer Bait from Canada.

A high forehead Heddon 100 in Green Crackleback is a superb bait.

Winston is known for their fly rods, but this fly reel of theirs is superb.

This really, really rare Bagley Bang-O-Lure is a winner.

A George Lawrence creel is always a great find.

You won't find a more rare reel than this G & F Spicker (Cincinnati) reel.

A pair of Bronson Invaders is always better than one!

Heddon Walton Feather Tails in boxes are a dream bait.

A&F had the nicest tackle boxes available.

This 1936 Heddon Catalog is superb.

A Pflueger Kingfisher in the box is a superb find.

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

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lang's Top 7

Lang's Top 7

With Lang's Auction coming up this weekend, I am reminded that I have not given my "Best Of" list which I have done for the past several years. Mea culpa--it happened to fall at a particularly busy end of the semester for me. But I will try to make up for it by giving you my "Lang's Top 7" from the weekend's upcoming auction.

In honor of the passing of Stan Bogdan, we start out with this "0" salmon reel. What a beauty…

You aren't going to find a rarer reel than this J.F. and B.F. Meek baitcaster.

I love this 13' Conroy rod.

1870s era catalogs come around so rarely, that this Peck & Snyder is a bit of a marvel.

This Bug-A-Boo in a box is SO RARE.

The Dreadnought is one of the great classic lures of all time.

I think this Paul Bunyan fly rod dealer display card is excellent.

So many nice items…check them out for yourself by Clicking Here!

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 4: Hudson's Bay Company of Canada

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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!

o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o - o

Trade House Tackle, Part 4:

Hudson's Bay Company of Canada--

The Oldest Tackle Trade House in the World

Perhaps the most legendary of all corporations in America is also the oldest commercial store in North America, and one of the oldest in the world--the Hudson's Bay Company of Canada. Founded on May 2, 1670, this legendary firm was so important in the history of America that for many parts of Canada it served as a functioning government for 100 years or more. At one point it owned 15% of all land in North America.

Best known for its fur trading in the early days, when it declined in the mid-19th century, Hudson's Bay became a mercantile empire, setting up shops all across Canada. Eventually by the turn of the twentieth century, the company became a department store franchise (the first actual department store opening up in 1881 in Winnipeg).

Lake Winnipeg Hudson's Bay store ca. 1884.

Almost certainly, from the earliest days the Hudson's Bay Company stocked fishing tackle in the form of fish hooks, a very valuable trade commodity for the first nations of Canada. Such hand-forged iron fish hooks have been found in nearly all provinces of Canada, proof of the demand for such tackle in the fur trade. These hooks would have been made in Britain and sent to Canada through the enormous volume of shipping the Hudson Bay Company undertook each year.

Modern fishing tackle would have emerged with the onset of the Hudson's Bay Department stores ca. 1900. It is not known how much tackle they branded with their own name, but it is certainly known that they did sell tackle with the legendary HBC moniker. Numerous period Canadian newspapers carry ads touting Hudson's Bay fishing tackle.

This ad from the July 28, 1939 Winnipeg Free Press touts fishing tackle at "The Bay," on the Main Floor no less.

Here's a neat example of a piece of Hudson's Bay Co. marked fishing tackle. It is a neat line spool dating ca. 1954 for Super Flyte brand nylon casting line. It has the "Hudson's Bay Company" name in the classic English script. It even has the company tag on the front label as well.

There has to be other HBC marked tackle, but alas, it does not reach America very often if it does come to market. I suspect our Canadian collector friends would have some HBC trade tackle socked away in their collections.

Hudson's Bay Company is still alive and doing well today, operating a number of department stores including the linear descendant of the firm known as The Bay. For more on the Hudson's Bay Company, Click Here.

I'll try and include some other non-U.S. trade houses in the 52 for 52. And anyone with any Hudson's Bay trade tackle give me a shout!

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Voices from the Past: Dixie Carroll (1919)

We've had occasion to feature one of my favorite outdoor writers, Carroll Blaine Cook (a.k.a. Dixie Carroll) numerous times on the blog. Today, we take a piece from his syndicated columns that made it into his book Fishing, Tackle and Kits (1919). It features an entertaining and interesting short history of the casting spoon, and is well worth knowing.

Dixie Carroll

Way back when you and I and most of the gang were kicking around in knee panties and just breaking out of the kilts, our dads who answered to the rollicking call of the lakes and streams were teasing the game fins into striking with the spoon. And many a big fish has answered to the tantalizing flash of the spoon as it glided, darted or revolved on its way through the water.

Most of the spoons of the early days were of the wobbling, darting class; this was just a bit before the advent of the more modern idea of spooning, the revolving type which is so popular today and justly so because these twirling beauties certainly attract fish. However, the old-time darters were standbys in their day, and many game-fish have made their last strike at them. The Old Lobb, shaped a trifle longer than the bowl of an ordinary teaspoon; the Onondaga, a slim-shaped spoon that darted and revolved at will or as the speed of its movement was increased in the water; and the Oneida, a fat-shaped spoon that had an erratic dart which followed no set route or schedule — all were pets and fish-getters.

Many of the old-timers still swear by these old patterns, but a glance in their tackle-box will generally show up a couple of the modern beauties either fluted, hammered, or plain. The old wobbling, darting spoons have a place in any tackle-box and are great little flashers of light as they dart from side to side. This makes them very attractive to the curious fish, especially the pike, pickerel and musky, as they lie in wait for the passing small fish upon which they gorge their tummies. The larger fish are particularly subject to the fascinating glide of the spoon and strike it with a wallop that often bends it double.

One of the earliest spoons of the darting type was the Buel spoon, following closely the shape of the bowl of the teaspoon, in fact it is claimed that young Buel, while washing his dishes at camp one day, accidentally let a silver teaspoon drop into the water, and as it glided down towards the bottom an overzealous lake trout, that could not resist the scintillating flashes of light reflected from the spoon, made a dart as it and cracked his teeth in the effort. Being of an inventive turn of mind, the youngster filed the handle off the spoon, drilled a hole in one end, to which he attached his line, and in the other end he drilled another hole and eyed in a long-shanked hook. This simple arrangement caught many fish, and for years was the model from which other spoons of the early days were patterned.

A little later, out in the West, an old-time fisherman of Delevan lake, puttering around his cabin, doped up the Delevan spoon by hammering a halfdollar piece into a concave shape with a sort of nicked tail at one end and an eyed ring on the other side. This old sport of the southern Wisconsin lake region eyed on two long-shanked hooks and, as minnows and shiners were the accepted bait for bass at that time, he hooked a minnow on each of the hooks. Trolling out into the lake to go to his usual fishing-grounds, he was kept busy hauling in the bass and putting on new bait. The fishing with the new spoon was so good that he did not find it necessary to keep on going until he hit his old spots, and when he flashed his string on the unsuspecting public and then flashed the new lure on the fishing fans he had to cut out fishing himself and hammer out these new spoons for the boys of other days. This was the beginning of the famous old Delevan spoon that has a wonderful string of fish to its credit.

A few years later, over on the fine old St. Lawrence river, G. M. Skinner put a real up-kick into the spoon game when he decided that the spoon which revolved regularly in one direction was what the big fins were really looking for. And to give the spoon this steady revolving movement, G. M. slipped a few flutes on an oval-shaped brass spoon and on the first tryout he hooked up with a walloping big musky that snapped his teeth shut with such force on the strike that Skinner knew he had made a ten-strike with the new lure and that he had something that would make the real old grand-daddy of the tribe sit up on his tail and take notice. The flutes not only added to the movement of the spoon, but also broke up the flash of light from its surface so that it shot through the water in a dozen different shafts, penetrating the watery recesses in a coaxing way that could not be resisted.

Up to this time most of the spoons were of large size, when along comes John Hildebrandt, one of the best-known old-time fly-casters of Indiana, with an idea that something ought to be done for the flyfisherman, to add a bit of attractiveness to the fly which a lot of bass were passing up, probably because they were nearsighted and could not see it. Anyway, " Big John," as he was lovingly termed by his angling pals, came through with an idea that helped make the spoon the attractive bait it is. He reduced the size of the spoon greatly, in fact his first spoon was made from a hammered dime and a bent hairpin. One trial with this little spoon and Big John found that the whirling spoon gave an added bit of motion to the fly and also the flash of light seemed to be just what the big fellows were waiting for. The boys of the present day can thank John Hildebrandt for pulling down the size of the spoon which added it to the casting end of the game, where it is just as effective as it ever has been in the trolling end.

It took the late W. T. J. Lowe of Buffalo to fancy up the spoon in gold and silver, and the famous Star and Buffalo spoons finished in these metals in beaded or plain styles have made a place in spoon line that is second to none. While on a trip for musky a few years ago I had a very accommodating guide whom I wished to remember for his many kindnesses during the trip, so I sent him a couple of the Lowe Star spoons as a little friendly token. Two seasons later, while in the same locality, I met this old guide of former years and was surprised to find him wearing one of the Lowe spoons as a watch charm. He just couldn't toss that gold and silver beauty into the water for ordinary fishing, it looked so darned fine, he said, that he was going to make a musky hop clean out of the water to take it off his watch chain if it came to a showdown.

An interesting bit of information regarding the early use of the spoon hook and artificial bait to coax the finny tribe out of the deep was brought to my attention some time ago by Harry R. Phillips, a well-known and popular angler. It is in regard to a quotation from a book, "A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere," written by Capt. James Cook and Capt. James King about the voyages of Captain Cook from 1776 to 1780. The quotation is in regard to the fishing game in the Sandwich islands, and from the dope, those old-timers must have been some fishermen with their hand-made tackle. So that everyone gets a fair chance at the credit for introducing the spoon hook in the sport 'of fishing, I quote the paragraph from this old book published in 1796:

"Their fishing hooks are of various sizes and figures; but those which are principally made use of are about two or three inches in length and are formed in the shape of a small fish, serving as a bait, with a bunch of feathers fastened to the head or tail. They make these hooks of bone, mother of pearl or wood, pointed and barbed with little bones or tortoise shell. Those with which they fish for sharks are very large, being generally of the length of six or eight inches. Considering the materials of which these hooks are composed, their neatness and strength are amazing; and indeed, upon trial we found them superior to our own."

Like all fishermen, it is a ten-to-one shot that the boys of the crew bought up the entire supply of this new-style bait before they left the islands.

The spoon is a very effective bait and can be used with no other adornment than that which the maker has endowed it, or it will be found an added attractiveness when used with any of the natural foods of the game fishes, or the artificial substitutes. The glittering, flashing whirl of the modern spoon in front of a minnow, frog, pork rind or chunk is something that awakens the curiosity or anger of most any of the game boys.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, April 25, 2011

News of the Week: 25 April 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!

Billy Pate passes away…Rapala setting the standard…the most influential bass fishing lures?…landing a rattlesnake…and a dead body…a trip ends with a bang…Bob Clouser teaches casting…spring rites for fly anglers…Wally Marshall gets profiled…future of Japanese angling…an interview with Jeremy Wade…the making of a salmon industry…it must be THE NEWS OF THE WEEK!

The Big Lead: Fly fishing pioneer Billy Pate passes away. A neat article from the Miami Herald here.

A really nice tribute to a deceased fishing friend.

In Park Rapids, Rapala sets the standard.

Wired 2 Fish ends its run of the 20 most influential bass fishing lures.

Catch of the Week: Gordon Jack lands a rattlesnake.

NOT the Catch of the Week: Belarusian catches man's dead body.

An exciting day indeed out on the river ends with a bang.

Bob Clouser demonstrates casting techniques.

A secretive cult celebrates spring rites.

A profile of Wally Marshall, the Crappie King.

A monster cod is landed in Britain.

The future of Japanese fishing.

Field & Stream features the Jensen Froglegs.

Paddlefish snagging

A short interview with Jeremy Wade of River Monsters fame.

Finishing with a Flourish: How the Salmon Fishery of the Great Lakes was invented.

-- Dr. Todd

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jeremy Wade: Extreme Angler and Vintage Tackle User

Jeremy Wade: Extreme Angler and Vintage Tackle User

I am a huge fan of Animal Planet's hit series River Monsters and its host and "extreme angler" Jeremy Wade. The show is great fun (in an "entertainment" way) and my 11-year old daughter is a huge fan. We were watching last week's episode when my daughter said, "Jeremy's fishing with one of Uncle Marc's lures." As I was preoccupied at the moment I said, "sure thing, dear." But she insisted. "No, it's one of Uncle Marc's lures." I looked up…and lo and behold, Jeremy Wade was fishing with a Heddon River Runt Spook Sinker. And not a new one, either! As my brother has a huge display of River Runt Spooks that are my daughter's favorite to look at, she remembered what they looked like.

Here are a few screen caps:

The intrepid Wade surveys the menacing Papau, New Guinea landscape. He needs a weapon to take on the omnivorous Pacu..

What's this? A wobbler.

He checks the balance of this deadly piscatorial weapon.

It's a Heddon River Runt Spook Sinker!

In Perch Scale.

And it's not a new one, either!

I think it was a splendid choice for Pacu fishing in New Guinea, although I usually like a Millsite Beatle Bug for fishing invasive species in South Asia.

You can check out Animal Planet's neat web site devoted to the series by Clicking Here. And don't forget to catch new episodes of River Monsters on Animal Planet on Sunday nights at 10:00 EST!

-- Dr. Todd

1000 Words

1000 Words

This week we get another classic image from the 1920s, courtesy of Garrett and may be my favorite so far. It harkens back to the days of the Lil' Rascals. He could be a dead ringer for Butch!

-- Dr. Todd

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Friday Funhouse

The Friday Funhouse

Video of the Week: That is ONE BIG GOLDFISH! Interview with the angler here. FYI the fish was released.

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

Holy cow…this Heddon 1910 catalog is JUST SO RARE!

This CCBC Special Order Surface Dingbat in Ghost is a superb lure.

This is a fascinating unknown birdcage style reel.

Pflueger Redifors are great casting reels.

An 1883 Vom Hofe Fly Reel is a great find…

This Ted Williams deep sea fishing reel is super cool.

We don't profile a lot of Horrocks-Ibbotson tackle here, but this Krazy Krab is Kool with me.

This Truck Oreno just keeps on Truckin'.

This Lee Wulff one piece six foot bamboo rod made for Norm Thompson is a great rod.

Bacon! Bacon!

This Christianson pike spearing decoy is amazing.

Don't look now, this Pflueger Kent Frog is staring at you!

Have a great weekend and be good to each other, and yourself.

-- Dr. Todd