Over the next several months, I’m going to feature the fishing tackle writing of one of my all-time favorite writers, Dixie Carroll (Carroll Blaine Cook). These famed pieces of tackle were featured in his great book Fishing Tackle and Kits. They are fascinating write-ups of the tackle from a contemporary perspective. Below is Dixie’s write up on the Jamison Fly Rod Wiggler, one of the earliest true fly rod lures. BABY CRAB WIGGLER.- Made by James Heddon's Sons, Dowagiac, Mich. When Heddons thought of imitating the little old crab, that succulent food of the enterprising bass and other game fish, they sure hit the bull-eye right plumb in the center. For a something different bait in the artificial line with a wiggle, dive and crawl of the crab tied up in its make-up the crab wiggler has been making the game fish strike in that swirling curve that almost takes the hair off the head as the game rascals drive into it. I have had very fine luck with the crab wiggler finished in the natural crab color, especially for bass and big wall-eye pike and the smaller baby crab wiggler is a wonderfully good lure for stream bait-casting for small-mouth bass. It is a floater and sure has a great wiggling crawl in the water. I had the best results by working the crab wiggler through a series of short jerks of the rod, that is by giving the tip of the rod a slight jerk, then making a couple turns on the reel handle followed by another slight jerking movement and so on until finally reeled in. About the second jerk, which gives the crab wiggler a sort of backward, darting crawl like the real crab, some old " he-bass" generally gave it a crack and the fun was on. Like all of the famous line of Heddon's Dowagiac baits, the crab wiggler is made right both in material and workmanship. The enamel finish of the bait is excellent and it stands up under mighty rough usage without cracking or chipping. The new scale finish, underlaid with red and with a golden tint to the side scales is a rattling attractive lure any time, while the white finish I have found particularly good for night and moonlight-fishing as well as on a cloudy or dark day. The natural finish crab color makes a 100% winner for fall casting when the crabs have become a bit scarce, although this finish I have found good all through the season. The crab wiggler is a worthwhile artificial in any kit.
Classic Green Crackleback baby crab wiggler.
Baby crab wiggler in downward leaping bass box with papers.
BASS Pro and tackle collector Bernie Schultz writes some great stuff for Bassmaster, but few have been as good as this article on the “Record Setting Lure.”
Bernie goes into detail about one of the great fishing lures of all time, the legendary Musky Haskell Minnow that broke all sorts of records when it went to market.
It’s a nice read and a great example of how tackle sometimes can break into the mainstream.
— Dr. Todd
Heddon’s No. 901 “Complete Bait Casting Outfit for Expert or Novice” was introduced in their 1931 catalog for a “Special Combined Price of $16.85.” The one in the photo is the earliest version with the “Kit Box” that was “sturdily made of heavy fiber-board, covered by a serviceable and waterproof cloth in Spanish Leather finish.” I suppose the waterproof cloth covered fiber-board didn’t hold up that well, as they were soon using a metal box.
I love the colorful graphics inside the box lid as much as anything. On the right hand side, it reads,
1931 Heddon Catalog cut.
“The Old Guide’s Choice!”
A Famous Guide and Veteran Fisherman made this selection as being a practical and compact outfit for all game-fish.
A valuable addition to regular equipment of experienced anglers for short trips or to keep in the car; also for guests at camps.
An ideal outfit for the less experienced fisherman who wants something good.
For Boy Scouts and Young America everywhere, it is a worthwhile present for all occasions.”
Well I’m no “Boy Scout” or “Young America”, but I certainly consider this outfit a “worthwhile present for all occasions!”
If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.
— Elissa Ruddick
A repost from the past (and this year even printed in Crappie Angler magazine!). I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and overall glad tidings to everyone in this holiday season! Enjoy!
My apologies to Clement Clark Moore for butchering his classic, but I could not let the holidays pass without a shot at rewriting his beloved poem, with a fishing theme...
An Angler's Christmas
butchered by Dr. Todd
'Twas the night before Christmas and all across the lake
Not a creature was stirring, not even a snake
The stockings were hung in the cabin with care
In hopes they'd be filled with bugs made of deer hair
This angler was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of Pfluegers danced in my head;
Shakespeares and Heddons both old and brand new
All served to disrupt my long winter's snooze,
When down on the dock there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Worried about my Big O's in mint silver flash,
I tore open the door to investigate the splash.
The light reflecting from the nearly full moon
Gave the lustre of mid-day to my Dardevle spoons,
When, what to my shock down the hill should appear,
But a Skeeter bass boat filled with reindeer!
And a portly old fisherman, so lively and quick,
I saw it was the angler we knew as St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his reindeer disembarked,
And he whistled, and shouted, their names he did hark:
"Now, Bagley! now, Paw Paw! now, Norman and Zebco!
On, Arnold! on Rebel! on Jamison and Nebco!
To the top of the steps! to the end of the dock!
Then on to the shore, my grazing herd flock!"
As dry flies that before the stiffest breeze fly,
When they meet with the wind and blow in the sky,
So along the dock the bounders they flew,
Followed by the boat full of tackle, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the shore
Their prancing and pawing and reindeer like roar.
As I drew in my breath, and was turning around,
Up the steps St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in B.A.S.S. gear from head to foot,
And his Ranger Boats cap was blackened with soot;
A bundle of rods he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a trout bum just opening his pack.
But his eyes, they twinkled, his smile was so merry!
His hooks were all sharp, his reels were so cherry!
His Orvis fly rod was as lithe as a bow,
And his hand tied streamer whiter than snow;
A piece of his leader he held tight in his teeth,
And the rest of his line lay coiled like a wreath;
St. Nick the Angler adjusted his belly,
And it flubbered around like a worm made of jelly.
But despite his big girth he could handle a rod
And he had taken his share, in spite of his bod
He slipped in the house with nary a word
As I stared in disbelief at his grazing deer herd.
St. Nick got to work, and with a nod of his face
He gave his approval of my piscatorial cache
He spoke not a word, and went straight to his work,
Filling the stockings with baits made to jerk,
Arbogasts, Helins, Spoonplugs and Skinners
Bass Pro, Cabelas, and multi-blade spinners
The stockings were soon just bursting with treasure
And he threw in a Winston, just for good measure
Then laying his finger aside of his head,
He gave me a nod, and down the steps he fled;
Into his boat he jumped, with its promo decals
And he puttered off out of sight to fish with his pals
But I heard him exclaim, as he trolled out of sight,
"Good fishing to all, and to all anglers, a good-night!"
Karl White has finally decided what to do with his collection … apparently he is going to open a Museum of Fishing Tackle in Branson, Missouri. You can read more about his decision, and background, by clicking here.
This is Karl’s third attempt at finding a home for his collection. It is our sincere wish that the third time be a charm for him!
— Dr. Todd
Patented on February 20, 1908, Jacob Hansen’s Michigan Life-Like Minnow was distributed by the Arntz Sporting Goods Company in Muskegon Michigan. It was made in a 3-3/4” five hook version and a 2-3/4” three hook version in nine colors. The unique vibrant and speckled paint jobs on these “NEAREST THING TO LIFE” minnows remind me of the Easter eggs I used to paint when I was a kid and when my kids were little!
No description compares to the one stated on the box paper:
“AFTER a long experience and careful study of Bait Casting and Trolling, we have gotten up this Bait, or in other words, the “Fisherman’s Friend.” It is made from selected Cedar, very strong and durable, and to represent a live minnow swimming. The improvement on this minnow over other makes, is the Jointed Tail portion, which is flexible, and when being drawn through the water the Three-Blade Propeller wiggles the Jointed Tail portion, and makes an excellent imitation of a live minnow while swimming.
It has been pronounced to be the most perfect casting and trolling bait ever put on the market and beats live bait.
The hooks are very easily detachable, and cannot possibly tangle or interlock, as they cannot swing forward. They can be replaced by any common treble hook, of any size or shape.
The bait is beautifully finished with a Special Water Proof Finish which prevents it from soaking water or peeling off. All spinners and hooks are heavily nickeled, thus preventing rust.” The lures were complicated to make, so they were not manufactured for very many years, making them very tough to find today. The Michigan Life-Like Minnow, Jacob Hanson’s first commercially produced lure, remains at the top of many collector’s wish lists. This “Fisherman’s Friend” is a friend of mine indeed.
If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.
— Elissa Ruddick
The Video of the Week
For some reason I found the fishing portion of this long video of a 1920s home movie of a fishing trip utterly charming. Notice how he uses the early Bache Brown spinning reel upside down! I am guessing this dates from the late 1940s rather than the 1930s.
What goes better together than fishing and enormous multi-national oil companies? Nothing, I say. Here Texaco (The Texas Company) touts "Custom-Made" Halvoline Motor Oil by leading with a salmon fishermen on the legendary Restigouche. "Royal Rogan Gray Ghost, salmon fly, made especialy to intrigue the great silver game fish when he swims New Brunswick's fabled Restigouche River. Created by Alex Rogan (of Alex Taylor & Company, New York), famous flytier, whose family has made flies since 1655."
What any of that has to do with motor oil is beyond me, as Halvoline was produced by the millions of gallons. It's a very bizarre ad, that's for sure.
Recently I was lucky enough to pick up an extra box of R.V. Allen’s Miracle Hooks from Chino, California. They are a patented hook from 1952 and a nifty bait holder, and I put it up for sale on Joe's Board.
Lo and behold soon after it sold I got a message from Fred Ribb, who wrote the following:
Two years ago I found two gentleman in their upper eighties that knew Rufus V. Allen. One of them recalled Rufus selling his tackle in the back of the old San Saba Hardware Store near the Courthouse square in the 1950s. The building has changed ownership several times over the years and today it is Harry’s Department Store. There are no Family members living here now which makes it difficult to find out much more.
I saw your board post on Joe’s and thought you might like to have this [a research article]. You should be able to open the two pictures attached. They reflect the difference between Chino, CA. and San Saba advertisement.
Regards, Fred Ribb
With Fred’s permission, I give you the history of the Allen’s Miracle Hook, courtesy of Fred Ribb.
R.V. (Rufus) Allen Tackle manufacturer, San Saba, Texas After receiving my R.V. Allen hooks and paperwork by mail, I was eager to start investigation. San Saba is a small central Texas town with a population of just over 3,000. It's better known for being the Pecan capital of the world rather than for its fishing tackle.
With new treasures in hand, my first stop was the San Saba Courthouse just down the street from where I live. With a little help from the clerk, we found Mr. Allen's death certificate and I was given a copy. Mr. Rufus Virgil Allen was born in Voca, Texas on 9-30-1897 and died at age 62 on 12-30-1959. As the Crow flies, Voca is 30 miles Southwest of San Saba. Mr. Allen’s occupation is listed as a poultry specialist and was considered an expert in Chickens and Turkeys. From talking with a few folks around town, San Saba was one of the Nations top poultry producing counties more than sixty plus years ago.
Mr. Allen moved to or near Chino, California by at least 1948 as evidenced by patent #2,518,588 that he applied for on June 11,1948. The patent was for improvements to a hen house. Searching Chino, CA. online I found that they were known for their vegetable crops, dairy and chicken production. I suspect the poultry industry was what prompted Rufus Allen's move to the West coast. During his stay in California, there were several patents applied for and granted to R.V. Allen between 1950-53. Among those were live and dead bait hook types, a live bait container and one patent for a trotline which I found quite interesting.
The trotline is comprised of metal links with eyelets on each end which are joined together with split rings. Stagings are connected by wire clips along the trotlines length at the split rings. A spring is attached to each end of the trotline which gives it flexibility. The springs can be fastened by small rope to a tree trunk or stake driven in the ground. When you're done fishing the trotline, stagings are disconnected and the trotline links are easily folded together and stored in a sack or small compact box free from tangles. Measurements for the metal links are not given but I suspect they would have been approximately eighteen inches long since trotlines generally have staging drops every 36 inches or so. Here is a link to his Trotline patent, here is a link to his Live bait container patent, and here is a link to Live bait hook patent. Other patents credited to Mr. R.V. Allen (There may be others I’m not aware of) include a Magnet cutoff valve (#2,576,168 issued on.Nov. 27, 1951) and a Magnetized window control (2,607,961 on Aug. 26, 1952).
Below is what may be one of R.V. Allen's earliest advertisements, Allen & Richards Mfg. Chino, Calif. The graphics are very similar to the San Saba advertisement but are indeed different as well as the wording used. The box is 2-piece cardboard construction (as shown above).
Over the next several months, I’m going to feature the fishing tackle writing of one of my all-time favorite writers, Dixie Carroll (Carroll Blaine Cook). These famed pieces of tackle were featured in his great book Fishing Tackle and Kits. They are fascinating write-ups of the tackle from a contemporary perspective. Below is Dixie’s write up on the Jamison Fly Rod Wiggler, one of the earliest true fly rod lures. HEDDON's DOWAGIAC CASTING RODS.- Made by James Heddon's Sons, Dowagiac, Mich. The Heddon's split-bamboo bait-casting rod is a mighty fine one and made right all the way through and at the same time you can get it in price from four dollars up to twenty-five and a good rod that does not stagger your bank roll. Even from the lowest priced ones up you get a good rod and the topnotcher is a winner. I have used these rods from the old one piecer up to the No. 15 and they all work well. The bamboo is selected, the ferrules of German sil- ver, shouldered, hand welt and satin finish while the guides are agate and hardened steel. The construction of these rods is on the one-piece demountable style and that gives you a long tip and short butt; this style allows free whip to the tip giving the bam- boo a chance to bend with all its natural resiliency, throwing the bait with practically no strain on the wrist or arm. They are full of action, yet strong and sturdy and a tool that you can handle with pride on any lake or stream. They look and act the part of a thorobred. The fact that the ferrule is set well below the center of the rod, down towards the butt eliminates the chance of breakage at the ferrule as the bend of the rod centers well above the ferrule. Care in selection of bamboo, thoroughly seasoned, and then care and skill in manufacture as well as the Heddon name behind the rod as a guarantee for workmanship and material means that the Heddon rods are right in every way.
I am not a man who enjoys reading modern travelogues. Maybe this is because I read over 1500 travel accounts while writing my dissertation on British travelers in the Ottoman Empire, but it probably has more to do with the fact that the entire travelogue industry is one big ego-stroking “look where I’ve been” bore fest.
There are exceptions.
This nifty monologue on fishing in Kyrgszstan is both interesting and engaging. It also has a fascinating video that shows the countryside well.
It’s not overly long, is on a subject few have written about, and is engaging and interesting. A rarity in this day and age!
— Dr. Todd
Several years ago I was sitting in a hotel room at a National Fishing Lure Collectors Club meet when I mentioned to my roommate Dave Budd that He might want to look through an August 1904 issue of National Sportsman magazine that I had picked up. Dave is a long time collector of tackle made in Indiana. His sharp eye soon picked up an ad that I had overlooked as it did not seem to be related to fishing tackle. It was for a duck decoy made in Auburn, Indiana. It was only after it was pointed out to me that I understood its significance as related to fishing tackle.
The inventor was H. S. Dills who was only 29 years old when he filed for a patent on this decoy in 1902. 14 years later he would become one of three men who founded the Creek Chub Bait Company, which would become one of the largest manufacturers of artificials lures in the world. It is also one of the most sought after companies when it comes to today’s collector of old lures.
Sometime later while Dave was appraising lures in Garrett, Indiana a gentleman walked in with an example of this decoy. It took a couple of years but Dave was ultimately able to purchase the decoy. It represents a Mallard. Since that time three more Dills decoys that were meant to represent Bluebill ducks were found in a barn near Garrett.
Reading the patent papers for this decoy is interesting in that they stress the light weight and compact nature of the decoys as well as ease of set up. The folding, hinged lead weight on the decoy is meant to steady it in the water as well as keep it upright. Staples along the front and sides of the base are there as tie points for the anchor cords. Shown here are two view of an actual Dills Decoy as well as the original 1902 patent drawings.
BUY THE DECONSTRUCTING OLD ADS (VOLUME 1) BOOK BY CLICKING HERE!