Back-Lash Nite-Light (1935)
Those who know me well and those who have read this column regularly, know that I love fishing for bass after dark. There is nothing quite like the smash of a big bass next to the boat after slowly retrieving a surface lure across starlit waters. Often one has the lake to themselves at this time and the opportunity is never better to catch a really big bass. Night sounds of various birds, animals, the dip of the oars as well as displays of "shooting stars" are all a part of what gives night fishing its charm. Unfortunately, there are also mosquitoes and the occasional backlash.
Not wanting to "put the fish down" by turning on a light, one learns to operate in the dark. Certain favorite lures are always in the same tackle box compartments so as to be easily located. The same with a pair of needle nose pliers and my pipe and tobacco (helps keep the mosquitoes at bay). I like a head lamp that is easily turned on at the last minute when one is about to stick their thumb into a bass' mouth that also contains treble hooks. Older "safety" style snaps on the end of the line help make lure changing easier when done by "feel" in the dark.
I really enjoy using vintage baitcasting equipment and lures. They double the pleasure of an "old time" night fishing trip. I enjoy the rush of a "lunker" as it takes line "under the thumb" with reel handles spinning in reverse. I have found braided nylon to be my favorite line for pre-1950 reels as it spools well, which is one of the keys to easy casting. Very little braided nylon line is manufactured these days but there is a lot of it around left over from its heyday and most of it has held up well against the ravages of time. The majority of braided nylon casting line is black with so-called "Camouflage" colors coming in second. When silk line was used before WWII the majority of it was also black. I use camouflage line with its alternating colors almost exclusively. This has nothing to do with any theory that the fish find it hard to see multi-colored line, but rather the frustrating experience of trying to untangle a backlash in black line on a dark night. Its hard enough when the line is made with short lengths of various colors.
Night fishing was far more poplar in earlier times and backlashes with that black silk casting line were common. Turning on a flashlight to untangle a backlash while night fishing has several downsides. It ruins one's night vision for a period, it tends to put any nearby fish down and worse of all it quickly draws a crowd of annoying insects. As a result of this last attraction, one learns not to hold a small flashlight in ones mouth while using both hands on the problem. LOL
No matter what the problem in fishing someone will come up with an invention to take care of it. The following advertisement is from the August 1935 issue of Field & Stream. It is for the "Back-Lash Nite-Light" made by the Boyd-Martin Mfg Co of Delphi, Indiana. Though the ad is fairly self-explanatory, I betting that this item was not a big seller and if it were seen today lying loose in the bottom of a tackle box very few would recognize it for what it is.
-- Bill Sonnett