Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Snarls & Backlashes with Finn Featherfurd

Today we will begin a longer series on great angling magazines of the past. In particular, I am always fascinated by the obscure, overlooked, and regional fishing magazines of the twentieth century. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Our first publication, Fishing World magazine is an often overlooked magazine that was more interested in fishing and tackle history than almost any other angling magazine of the post-war era.

November-December 1969 cover with vintage tackle.

It was founded in 1953 in the wake of the great post-war fishing boom, and at first was a slim 32-48 page volume with very few advertisements, indicating it was taking a while to catch on. It had sparing layout and the articles, ranging from "Tips on Trout" in April 1958 to "All About Shad" in March/April 1965. It billed itself as The Magazine for Sport Fisherman, and ranged at various times from a monthly to a bi-monthly.

March-April 1971 cover.

One of my favorite features in the 1960s was the Fishing Patent column, in which they would dissect an odd or fascinating tackle patent. The magazine was sufficiently interested in fishing history to hire Mary Kefover Kelly -- the legendary fishing historian -- to pen a number of important columns on the subject of fishing tackle history. These articles were collected by Dr. Todd to form a portion of Mary's great book Origins of American Angling.

1986 cover with then Vice-President George H.W. Bush.

The magazine was still around in the late 1980s but seems to have disappeared afterward. A new magazine called Fishing World is in print today, but is an Australian angling magazine with no relation to the original Fishing World publication.

I consider this magazine both a fine publication for knowledgable fishing articles, and a solid one for advertising research. It can be a tough magazine to find, but if you watch eBay you'll be able to pick up back issues at a fairly steady rate.

-- Finn

Finn Featherfurd is the pseudonym of a sad and lonely retired professor and newspaper columnist who has spent the better part of the past four decades (unsuccessfully) chasing fish in the Lower 48. A long-time collector of vintage fishing tackle of all kinds, he is currently fascinated by pre-1920 children's fishing reels (40 yards and smaller). When the spirit moves him, he will contribute occasional pieces and essays to the Fishing for History Blog. He can be reached at

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