The following ad from the April 1935 issue of Hunting & Fishing Magazine for the Prescott Spinner Company's brochure got me to thinking about a “care package” that ORCA (Old Reel Collectors Association) President John Elder sent me some time back. It contained among other things, the very brochure advertised in this ad. I have always been impressed with Prescott spinners as they have a somewhat different design than most others. The tip of the spinner blade is bent inward at a noticeable angle causing the blade to start revolving around the shaft the instant it begins to be drawn through the water. No spinner in my experience spins with less effort.
What little I know of Charlie Stapf, the owner of the Prescott Spinner Company, comes from Robert Page Lincoln's book Black Bass Fishing. Lincoln relates a few experiences with Charlie in a way that portrays Stapf as somewhat of a braggart with a large ego. Robert Page Lincoln had invented a fly that was tied using rubber bands as wings or legs and it proved effective when used. Being proud of his fly's success, he gave one to Charlie Stapf, who condescendingly threw it in the bottom of the boat. Sometime later Stapf put out a fly tied with rubber bands, giving Mr. Lincoln no credit for the idea.
I wondered if that fly was in the Prescott catalog. A short search did come up with a candidate. The Prescott Spinner Wiggle Worms as shown here appears in this 1935 brochure. Stapf's idea was that the rubber bands represented a gob of wiggling worms as drawn through the water with the Prescott Spinner leading the way and causing the rubber bands to wave in the subsequent current.
Some time later Robert Page Lincoln was fishing with Fred Arbogast and showed him the same fly he had made with rubber bands. According to Lincoln, Fred examined the fly with keen interest and a short time later came out with the “Hula Skirt.” The development, manufacture and history of the Arbogast “Hula Skirt” was covered by author Colby Sorrels in an extensive article in the June 2011 issue of The NFLCC Gazette. Robert Page Lincoln considered the Arbogast “Hula Skirt” one of the greatest innovations in the development of fishing tackle. The “Prescott Spinner Wiggle Worms” seems to have been lost to history.
-- Bill Sonnett