Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Voices from the Past: Early History of Spin Fishing (1953)

The following is a brilliant piece from the early days of spin fishing. It is from a column written by Leonard Frazier, who penned the weekly "Backlash" feature for the Brownwood Bulletin of Brownwood, Texas. It is dated Dec. 23, 1953, but the pertinent information was penned by Bill Moore. Moore was a tackle rep that dealt with the Southwest, and an early proponent of spin fishing.


As I mentioned in the last edition of this column, my good friend Bill Moore has prepared some general information concerning spinning, one of the newest innovations in angling. I'd like to pass Bill's story on to you.

In case you don't know, Bill Moore is probably one of the foremost authorities In the southwest concerning the use of artificial lures for catching fish. Fishing and fishing tackle are his business.

My sincere thanks to Bill for preparing this for you and me.

"The most controversial piece of fishing tackle that has ever hit the fishing world is the spinning reel.

Arguments started the minute the first one was imported into this country. The argument is still going strong—and perhaps always will.

"Spin fishing first originated in Europe fifty to seventy-five years ago, and has been for years the most popular type of fishing. For those who have not yet been bitten by the bug, a spinning reel differs from our conventional level winding casting reel principally because the spool on a spinning reel does not turn.

The line spins off the spool much the same as if you wrapped a line on a tomato can, held the can by one end and threw a rock tied to the end of the line. The line would come off the reel In loops or coils. Hence the name 'spinning'.

Due to this fact there is nothing to start moving, therefore there is no inertia to overcome. Lighter baits can be used, and longer casts made. All spinning reels have a built in clutch, or drag, that can be set short of the breaking strength of the line used. When a fish exerts enough pressure on the line to come near the breaking point the clutch slips, giving more line for the fish to play on.

First arguments start when local fishermen, who have been used to fishing 15 or 20 pound test line, are told that 2, 3 or 4 pound test line is all that is needed with a spinning reel. They immediately form the opinion that a fish of any size would break this thin line with very little effort. Here is where the "clutch" on the reel comes in.

The next argument starts when the fisherman is told that he will crank the reel—or wind in the line—with his left hand. It does seem awkward but a couple of
hours practice will make him feel at ease with this type reeling.

Rods come in for their share of criticism also. A spinning rod should be from six to seven and one-half feet long, very light and whippy, and most Important very large guides. The large guides are necessary because the line comes off the reel in coils. Small casting rod type guides will 'choke' the line's flow and make it impossible to get proper distance.

No piece of fishing equipment has ever had to battle its way into the hearts of the fishermen like spinning reels have. It is so very different that a lot of fishermen have not made the effort to learn how to use spinning tackle, there- fore they cannot furnish correct

information to the prospective spin fisherman. Today it would be hard to find any kind of a tackle dealer that does not have spinning equipment of one kind or another In stock. . It would be equally bard to find a salesman in these retail stores that could .give you a proper course of Instructions in the use of spinning tackle.

Despite these hazards, spinning is slowly but surely entrenching itself as a third type of fishing. Town by town, state by state, it is being adopted.

As evidence of this, there were 72 different brands of spinning reels on display at the National Fishing Tackle Show in Chicago last August. This was due only to the ever increasing popularity of spin fishing.

It is hard to say, but honestly, at least fifty percent of these reels were put on the market solely for the purpose of separating the fisherman from his money. With no thought or care in mind, as to whether it would properly perform the function intended of a spinning reel.

Such manufacturers seem to operate under the slogan 'Let the buyer beware', By far the larger percent of spinning reels on the market today are imported from France, Italy, Belgium or Switzerland. Some of these are very, very good. Some of them are very, very bad. For this reason that smart prospective spin fisherman will shop around until he finds a retail store salesman that has had some actual spin fishing experience and can correctly instruct him in the uses of spinning tackle.

Put the salesman on his honor —if the tackle he sells you for (spinning does not function as it should—let the burden be on him.

Some retail stores are progressive enough to have a complete rig set up in the store and will lend it to a prospective customer to let him see what it is like. This type merchant is doing an honest job.

Play ball with them. You can be sure that they are trying their best to give you the fishing pleasure that you deserve.

-- Dr. Todd

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