Friday, August 31, 2007

Update on New Pflueger Book

Good news for Pflueger Pfanatics! The long awaited tome The Pflueger Heritage, by Wayne Ruby, is now shipping! We were first to review this book (for those who missed it the review is available here).

Wayne emailed me and said that the only place you can get a SIGNED copy is directly from him. The cost will be $39.00 plus $7.50 shipping and handling, and can be ordered directly from Wayne at

This is a fine book that any casual (or advanced) Pflueger collector will want for their library.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review: Gregg Stockey's Guests at the Buck Falls Club

Review of Gregg Stockey's Guests at the Buck Falls Club

Samuel Allcock, owner of the great tackle company that proudly bore his name, once derisively referred to the British fishing writer Henry Cholmondeley-Pennell as a "literary fisherman." Most knowledgeable outdoorsmen know exactly what Allcock meant by this; indeed, few pursuits (with the possible exception of baseball) attract so many "metaphor-for-life" writers as field sports. But unlike Cholmondeley-Pennell, far too many of these writers lack the literary skills necessary to pull of this style without sounding stilted, arrogant, or just plain boring.

This is why I perform a minor celebration when I discover an author that avoids the trap of literary pretense and instead tries to tell an engaging story in as direct a style as possible. Gregg Stockey is just such a writer. His work Guests at the Buck Falls Club: An Outdoor Memoir (Cold Tree Press, 2007) is both an original and interesting work that delightfully recalls a number of stories from Stockey's nearly four decades as an outdoor enthusiast.

Reading this book is like retracing the steps of my youth. The book is framed by the author's experiences learning woodcraft in the famed Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) of Northern Minnesota, in the backyard of my hometown of Duluth and where I got my first experience as a fishing guide on the Gunflint Trail. Like the author, I went to college in Central Illinois and spent much time in Chicago, and again like Stockey, I whiled many a month away prowling the woods and waters of Northern Wisconsin. So this is intimately familiar territory for me.

While I may have these geographical reference points in common, Stockey's life and experiences are in many ways unique. A trained counselor who uses the outdoors as a way to help adolescents better find their way in the world, he takes the reader on a very personal and introspective journey from his first experiences catching fish with his father to giving a group of kids a singular lifelong memory in the chapter from which the book gets it title.

What Stockey understands and notes in every selection, whether it is about fishing for smallmouth in Northern Michigan, climbing Mount Rainier, or taking photographs of a particularly docile young buck, is that nature changes a person in both obvious and imperceptible ways. If there is a book published in the past year that better illustrates this point, I haven't read it.

Coterminous with this is Stockey's refreshing lack of bravado. Here you will not find the intrepid explorer single handedly saving a lost group of kids from a grizzly bear, or the stoic angler boating the record-breaking bass. Instead, you'll read about a Mepps Musky Killer imbedded in his brother-in-law's head, getting lost on a U.S. Navy Bombing Site while hiking, and a father who, in a refreshing bit of honesty, reproaches Stockey for not keeping every fish he catches. From some of the memoirs I've read, you'd think most fishing writers were raised on Walden's Pond.

The book is illustrated with period photographs taken by the author that represent literal snapshots of Stockey's life. At a slim 148 pages, Guests at the Buck Falls Club flows effortlessly, and while it may not reach the status of a classic in the field, I can't imagine anyone reading it and not finding something to enjoy. It also marks Gregg Stockey as an author to watch in the future.

Guests at the Buck Falls Club is available from Cold Tree Press and from

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Voices from the Past: Larry St. John, Part II

Woods and Waters

by Larry St. John

Catalina Record Fish, Part II

Mr. Spalding took two the same day, but came under the weights taken by his wife, his tunas weighing 108 3/4 and 92 3/4 pounds. Two 100 pound fish in one day is a feat that no other woman has accomplished, even in Catalina waters.

However, Mrs. Spalding was after larger game and a few days later landed the largest tuna brought to gaff on rod and reel by any angler in ten years. when officially weighed on the Tuna club's scales, it flipped them at 165 pounds. Proudly she slept on her record that night, as well she might. The whole little island city of Avalon talked about the remarkable catch.

The next morning Mrs. Spalding was told at breakfast that her record had already been broken. Capt. George Farensworth, near midnight, had brought in a 198 1/2 pound tuna and captured a twenty year record.

But Mrs. Spalding kept on fishing and her record includes four blue ribbon tuna. Mr. Spalding achieved the rare feat of winning in one season the Tuna club button for tuna, marlin, and broadbill.

Mrs. Keith Spalding showing off a record marlin in Feb. 1922 (sorry for poor quality--it is a scan of a terrible 20-year old photocopy)

Then, to set a fair example to the members of the Tuna club, the president of the club, J.A. Coxe, set out fishing one bright day. He brought in seven button winning tunas and a 372 pound marlin swordfish--a new world's record marlin.

Another notable catch made during the season was a twenty-five pound yellow tail, caught by a dainty Chicago bride, Mrs. Harold Pixley.

All button winning fishes caught at Catalina are weighed by officials of the club and are caught on regulation tackle. Yellow tail of twenty pounds, caught on regulation light takle--rods with six ounce tips and line testing not over 18 pounds--are awarded bronze buttons, while thirty and forty pounders get silver and gold buttons, respectively. The club also award buttons for tuna over 100 pounds.

The record blue-fin or leaping tuna is a 251 pound fish, caught more than twenty years ago. The second largest was a 216 pounder, also taken many years ago by an anglerette, but Mrs. Spalding's tuna is probably the second largest ever landed by a woman.

--Dr. Todd

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Voice from the Past: Larry St. John Part I

Careful readers have already been introduced to Larry St. John, a pioneering fishing writer for The Chicago Tribune for a number of years in the early twentieth century and the author of several important works on fishing. A good sample of the kind of writings that made him popular is found in this article from his "Woods and Waters" column from April, 1921. To save space I have divided the article into two parts, to run concurrently today and tomorrow.

Woods and Waters

by Larry St. John

Catalina Record Fish, Part I

Chicago anglers and anglerettes have taken some unusually large fish at Catalina Island during the past season, among them some record and near record specimens.

A swordfish weighing in the neighborhood of 200 pounds caught on rod and reel by Finley Barrell was said by Keith Spalding to be "pretty good for bait."

And just to prove his argument, Mr. Spalding landed a broadbill swordfish, known as the fiercest monster of the sea, that weighed 258 pounds. His catch, made by hook and line from the Spaldling yacht, Good Will, took one hour and six minutes to land.

This fish gave Mr. Spalding the record for the season as well as the honor of landing the largest broadbill in three years--until Zane Grey, the author, took a look at the catch. Mr. Grey said nothing, but day after day "stalked the deep" in quest of a fin. When he brought in his tropy, his king of the sea weigned 418 pounds--the largest taken on rod and reel in several years.

Then Mrs. Spalding decided that angling honors could be captured by the fair sex as well. The remarkable catch of a 225-pound marlin swordfish made at Catalina last season by Mrs. Marshall Field III, had decreed Chicago anglerettes peculiarly favored by fishermen's luck. Mrs. Spalding started after tuna and the beautiful blue-fin took the count. Her first day's catch was a 111 pounder and a 108 pounder.

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, August 27, 2007

News of the Week, 27 August 2007

Lots of interesting tidbits in the news this past week.

Sad news as reported on Joe Yates' Message Board that Duane "Hal" Halverson, veteran reel collector, has passed away. No other details were available.

From the Great State of Texas comes Ray Sasser in the Dallas Morning News writing of a new bait created by Lone Star fisherman John Guerin. Guerin's Injured Minda is a top-water lure of fascinating design. I may order a couple of these myself.

J.D. Richey in The Auburn Journal asks the age-old question What is the world's best fishing lure? Any such list is sure to leave out a lot of people's favorites, as John Merwin recently discovered in Field & Stream when he listed his 50 greatest lures of all time.

Veteran collector Gabby Talkington used to collect Rapalas with corporate logos on them. This article in the Hattiesburg American profiles how easy it is to get a Rapala with your company name on it. Maybe the NFLCC should try this as a fundraiser?

A neat article in The Gainesville Times profiles Reggie Weaver, a Tennessee-born geologist and promoter of fishing. Hooked on Fishing: Retired State Geologist Began Love of Fishing as a Boy in Tennessee talks about the kind of guy who hardly ever gets the proper credit.

Reggie Weaver relaxing in his den

Even in Australia, fishing tackle is making news. In a nation with five million diehard sport angler, a recent proclamation seemed to state that fishing tackle in the commonwealth would be taxed. This article alleviates the outrage many Aussie sportsmen and women were feeling.

We have a new world record fluke from Bradley Beach, NJ, weighing 24.3 pounds.

A neat article in The Albany Times Union outlines L.L. Bean's new New York store in Fly-Fishing Is Part of the Lure

In environmental news, Operation Clean Sweep has been a great success, removing 38 pounds of lead jigs from near Ashland, WI according to this article in The Ironwood Daily Globe.

New products were in the news, including the LOOP Speedrunner and Megaloop Reel. These were profiled by Fish and Fly On-Line.

LOOP Speedrunner Reel

Another new item is the Luhr-Jensen Quiver Spoon courtesy of Southern California's The Log magazine.

Luhr-Jensen Quiver Spoon in natural rainbow pattern

From Canada's The Winnipeg Sun comes an article entitled Muskie Hunting Made Easy with New Lure. Having musky hunted a bit in my life, I can say no lure makes it easy!

Finally, two pieces in news of the weird. First is a review of a new book on Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath with an anecdote on Ozzy fishing and getting attacked by a swan.

Finally, from one of my favorite web sites ( comes the following article on Michael Vick (a.k.a. Ron Mexico) of dogfighting and gambling infamy. It turns out Vick is selling his 2002 Aquasport 205cc Osprey fishing boat. You even get a certificate of title signed by Vick himself.

And you thought you could escape Michael Vick news!

-- Dr. Todd

PS Anyone who runs across any news articles I've missed on fishing and fishing tackle history, drop me a link!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Review: September 2007 The Reel News

The mailbox delivered the latest edition of The Reel News (Vol. XVII, No. 5--September 2007), and like always, it is a winner.

This issue sees the return of Steve Vernon's pioneering work Roots o' Reels on the origins of the fishing reel. Vol. 13 in this ongoing series is entitled "A Small Revelation" and is co-authored with Randy Heller, and is the second in the series dealing with the very odd and important Ed. F. Small spinning reel patent. Copiously illustrated and dead-on historically, like all of Steve's work, this is a significant contribution to our knowledge of reel history.

Jim Madden unveils "The South Bend Treasure Chest" in his South Bend Bits column. This article covers the introduction in 1951 of Freecast and Smoothcast model casting reels and their unique cases.

Bob Miller's Pflueger Pfacts column is a bit different this month, in that it is an essay entitled "On Collecting Pflueger Reels." This is an absolute must read for anyone thinking of starting a Pflueger reel collection, or who seeks to expand their Pflueger reel collection in new directions.

Stu Lawson's always entertaining More Reel Stuff column features a report on the Kelso Show as well as a very cool article about fishing with three of his granddaughters.

Ben Wright illustrates the difference beween the original and reproduction ABU Cardinal 33 CDL in his fine Spinning Lines column. Another must read that may just help you from making a several hundred dollar mistake.

Jim Schottenham's always interesting The Auction Report covers the best of the past two months, and includes some real wowzers including a 4/0 E. vom Hofe Pasque and case that sold for $999.90. Col. Milton Lorenz' "The Reel Fix" covers the durable Bronson Jet 500 spinning reel, while Ed Slane contributed a short piece entitled "Smokey Makes Our Day" about an incident involving a cop, a shirt, and a tackle box full of reels.

My personal contributions included two articles, a short Reels of the Trade column entitled "The Mysterious Metropolitan Hardware Company of N.Y.C." which covers the trade reels from this firm. After it had already gone to press, I discovered that Al Munger had referenced a reel from this company back in 1980, so these trade reels have been a mystery for some time.

The second article was entitled "The 99th American Casting Association National Tournament" and covered in a bit more detail the casting tournament I wrote about this week in the blog.

Another fine issue with tons of info simply not found anywhere else. The Reel News is edited by Richard K. Lodge and is available to ORCA members six times a year. Clicking Here.

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The 1938 NASAC National Tournament, by Warren Platt

We are fortunate today to get a submission from Warren Platt, who writes about the 1938 NASAC National Tournament. Tons of cool information in this little piece.

The 1938 NASAC National Tournament

by Warren Platt

I've really enjoyed your review of the ACA tournament.  I was lucky enough to acquire a photo of the 1938 National Tournament held in Columbus, Ohio. It's a large photo (the frame is 50 inches wide) and behind glass, and I'm sure all the great casters are in the photo somewhere. The only problem is none are identified.  I think I know some of them and will try to point out a few.  Hope you enjoy.

There's approximately 300 in this photo

Henry Fujita, Sr. was a champion caster and father of Dick Fujita

Tony Accetta was a very popular tournament caster who founded his own tackle company (after being a rep for Shakespeare for a number of years)

Tony Accetta is shown here hawking Shakespeare tackle just three months before the 1938 NASAC National Tournament

Jack Sparks

Campers and Autos shows this was a true festival event

Photo Caption from right side of photo

Two more photos will round off this little display. The first is an original photo of Edwin Sutter during a distance casting event.  On the back it reads:  "Ed "Break" Sutter at Columbus 8/19/38 before the blow-off."  Sounds like someone had a good sense of humor.

Sutter breaking off a casting weight

The second photo is of a commemorative casting weight from the tournament.  The tip of the line tie is broken off.  These are hard to find items.

A very rare marked 1938 National Tournament Casting Weight

As an aside, tournament casting was very popular up until the late 1950s.  Kansas City hosted the 1965 tournament, but by 1971 all of the clubs here had folded.  I've collected a wonderful amount of K C tournament history, and hope to someday find a good place to have it displayed for the public.  The Kansas City Bait & Fly Casting Club was one of the charter club members.

A terrific article and some super rare photos. Many thanks go out to Warren for taking the time to send this my way.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dr. Todd Attends a Casting Tournament, Part II

This is the second of my two-part report on the recent 99th American Casting Association National Tournament.

Dr. Todd Attends a Casting Tournament, Part II

Fujita, Seroczynski, and a number of others were competing in the senior division, but there were many talented younger casters too. Perhaps the greatest of them today is Steve Rajeff. Rajeff is a senior rod designer for G. Loomis, and in fact was utilizing a hand-made 13-foot custom rod he built from a single Loomis blank, which he used with a Shimano Calais 100 with the level-wind removed. He holds a number of American casting records and finished as Grand All-Around Champion at this year’s nationals.

2007 U.S. Grand All Around Champion Steve Rajeff

Another champion caster was Pam Peters, who began casting competitively about fifteen years ago, and is currently the American women’s record holder in eight categories as well as a member of the U.S. National Casting team. Pam is the daughter of ORCA member Bill Peters, who holds the vintage casting tournament at the ORCA nationals. Pam used a stock surf casting rod and ABU Garcia Pro Max 1600 in this competition, both less than a year old.

Pam Peters waiting in the 5/8 Oz. Spinning Spool distance category

Peters showing off textbook form

Being particularly interested in the history of fishing, I was fascinated by the vintage gear still being used by tournament casters today. Rajeff, for example, explained that some casters still like the Langley Lurecast because it is direct-drive, light weight, and has a flanged spool. He explained that casters would remove the level wind, narrow the main drive gear to half its original size, and drill six to eight holes to lighten the weight even further, all in an effort to make the spool turn faster. George McCabe further explained that the tear drop shaped Shakespeare 1973D direct drive model was a very popular reel among tournament casters in its time and could still be found being used even today. Early ABU reels are still widely utilized, and one particular ABU Record model had the level wind removed and a custom magnesium spool installed. I was told that some competitors still use Meek and Talbot reels for accuracy events.

Bill Clement's ABU Tournament Casting Reel

1950s ABU Record Reel with Titanium Spool

Two of the most popular vintage spinning reels used by spinning spool casters are the Mitchell 308 and 408 models. Rajeff explained that their enduring popularity comes from their shorter stem length and narrower spools, which makes feathering the spool with the index finger much easier than with new spinning reels. But not everyone believed in using vintage reels; no less an authority that Richard Fujita declared that “these modern reels are just amazing” and far superior to vintage tackle, even for accuracy events.

The New: "Cajun" Bill Clement's Pflueger 8-Ball Bearing Casting Reel

All of this lead me to discover a completely unexpected controversy in the ACA—whether to allow the use of vintage tackle in ACA tournaments. Some ACA members believe that the use of vintage equipment is a disincentive for tackle manufacturers to promote the sport of casting; remember, the connection between the tackle manufacturing sector and the ACA was once so close that a separate division was created by the ACA just for manufacturer’s representatives. Current ACA members such as John Field seek to reestablish this connection by creating opportunities for manufacturers to use the sport of casting as a proving ground for new equipment and see vintage tackle as a barrier to this goal. Opponents to this view point out that casters like to use equipment that is familiar and functional, and sometimes this equipment is 20, 30 or even 50 years old. Besides, what better advertisement for Shakespeare than to see someone competing at the highest level with a 30 year old Model 1973D? From the opinions on the subject I surveyed, there was little unanimity on the subject.

The Old: Cajun's Classic Shakespeare 1973D Tournament Casting Reel

There were many memorable moments such as interviewing Dick Fujita, but one that stands out in my mind was that I got to be a Pegger for “Cajun” Bill Clements, a powerful 65-year old caster from California competing in the 5/8 oz. two handed revolving spool competition. Cajun was using a vintage ABU 2500C with the level wind removed and a competition Japan spool installed. A Pegger’s job is to watch the entry make his cast and then walk along side them as they wind up the line, making sure to try and point out the direction they should be going so that they do not pick up the slack and inadvertently move the casting weight. When the weight is found, the Pegger sticks a numbered Peg into the ground at the far end, which later is surveyed with a laser distance measuring tool. Cajun let loose an epic cast, and we seemed to walk and talk for about five minutes before finding his weight. Later it was discovered the cast went 344 feet, breaking the existing record by over 20 feet (and only 19 feet short of the Open Men’s Division record held by Rajeff).

"Cajun" Bill Clement's 344-foot record cast

Can you imagine pitching a Jitterbug that far on a moonless night?

Overall, the experience was unforgettable. In addition to the people mentioned, I would like to thank Andy and Beth Statt, Dale Lanser, Gord Deval, and Bill Burke, among others, for their hospitality. I wish I could make the 100th Anniversary Tournament in San Francisco, California!

A more detailed report will appear in the September edition of The Reel News.

-- Dr. Todd

PS For those interested in learning more about the sport of casting, or who wish to join the ACA, Click Here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dr. Todd Attends a Casting Tournament, Part I

This is the first of my two-part report on the recent 99th American Casting Association National Tournament.

Dr. Todd Attends a Casting Tournament, Part I

Sixty-seven years ago, if you were lucky enough to be in attendance at the 1940 National Tournament sponsored by the National Association of Angling and Casting Clubs (NAACC), you would have been lucky enough to meet some of the true legendary figures in American fishing; men such as Al Foss, Fred Arbogast, Tony Acetta, Sid Liotta and others were still active casters as well as titanic figures in the sport of fishing. At the time, national casters all maintained sponsorships from the leading fishing tackle manufacturers, ranging from Heddon to Shakespeare to Creek Chub. Indeed, many prominent tackle companies were founded by tournament casters (even E.A. Pflueger was a part-time competitor).

Fred Arbogast at the 1918 NASAC Nationals

I was reminded of this fact as I attended the 99th American Casting Association National Tournament held July 30 to August 04. This fine event was hosted by the Cincinnati Casting Club at the Lebanon Sports Complex about twenty miles north of Cincinnati. The ACA is the successor to the NAACC (and its predecessor the NASAC) and the standard bearer of the sport of casting in America, and the tournament was an absolute delight to witness.

The sport of casting is integrally tied to the history of fishing in America. Some of the founders of the sport include such legendary figures as Reuben Wood, Seth Green, Fred Peet, and Eddie Mills, and reel makers who constructed special tournament casting reels included Talbot, Meek, and Welch, all of whom worked on numerous tournament specials that deeply influenced their craft. Many tackle manufacturers used tournament casters to test out new equipment, and thus the sport of casting left an indelible print on angling in America as a whole. I have been working on writing some of this history when I am not busy writing about fish hooks and blogging.

Fred Peet with Talbot Reel ca. 1900

What was conspicuous by its absence at the 99th ACA Nationals was much of a presence by modern tackle manufacturers. This is a shame, as there are probably few people more attuned to what makes a good rod and reel than the current crop of casters who plied their craft under the balmy Cincinnati sun. One can hope that this link—so integral in the history of sportfishing in America—can be reconnected in the near future, as both manufacturers and the sport of fishing stand to benefit greatly from a renewed relationship.

A Shimano GT7000 Spinning Reel—evidence of how manufacturers could use tournament casters as testers for new equipment.

There were numerous events and categories held at the nationals, including distance and accuracy in fly, spinning spool, and revolving spool competitions for youth, men, women and seniors. The morning I visited was the 3/8 and 5/8 ounce one and two-handed spinning and two-handed revolving spool (baitcasting) distance casting competition.

Andy Statt is a mirror image of himself in the before and after shots of his 3/8 oz. Spinning Spool attempt

For those who have never seen a casting event before, it is almost surreal to watch a casting weight travel over one hundred yards in a single cast. You read that correctly. These weights travel well over three hundred feet, or the length of a football field. The casters put so much torque on their reels and rods that they have to use a shock trace and are constantly retying their traces and weights after every second or third cast. This still does not stop them from occasionally breaking off a weight, which as one caster noted wryly, would "probably go right through you" were you unlucky enough to get hit by one. Not surprisingly, I observed the competition from behind the casters.

With my guide, the genial ORCA member George McCabe, I made my way down the rows of competitors, stopping to introduce myself and chat about the events and particularly the tackle used.

George McCabe was the ACA's designated photographer

The highlight of my day was meeting the legendary Richard Fujita of Cleveland, who was competing (and doing extremely well I might add) in his 69th national tournament at the youthful age of 81. Fujita’s background is fascinating; the son of champion caster Henry Fujita, he began casting at the age of 10 originally as a way to get out fishing more often, but soon discovered that he enjoyed casting more than catching fish. He entered his first national casting tournament in 1939 at the age of 13, and in 1944 won his first national championship for accuracy. His gear at the time was a bamboo rod and Bluegrass Kentucky NLW casting reel, and his competition included such titanic figures as Arbogast, Liotta, Foss, and Accetta. Some of Fujita’s records still stand today.

Dick Fujita, Legendary Caster

Fujita shows off championship form at age 81

Another legendary figure was John Seroczynski of the Chicago Casting Club—the same CCC that founded The Izaac Walton League. This was his 50th national, and he regaled me with tales of growing up in Indiana and being tutored in his youth by caster Wally Krause, who used to regularly take him over to see the legendary reel maker Jack Welch. Best remembered for his work at Heddon, Welch was a big supporter of tournament casting and made many custom reels for prominent casters. Seroczynski fondly recalled visiting Welch’s basement workshop, where Welch would turn out all his reel parts on a tiny jeweler’s lathe.

Jack Welch Tournament hand-made reel, from Tom Greene’s

TOMORROW: A World Record Cast!

-- Dr. Todd

The Home Page of the American Casting Association (ACA) can be Found Here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

News of the Week, 20 August 2007

There were some interesting items this week in the news. First, the 2007 The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation Survey is now on-line. The short of it: 87 million Americans are outdoors enthusiasts and they spend $120 Billion per year. This does NOT count several prominent collectors, who it would seem spend a billion a year on eBay on all the items I need for my collection.

An interesting article in The Palm Beach Post entitled Knockoffs hook Stuart business into global economy about a tackle maker in Florida who found cheap imported copies of his lures for sale here in America. Those old enough to remember the 1950s and 1960s knows this is just history repeating itself--American tackle being knocked off overseas. Before it was Japan; now its China.

An article in The Detroit Free Press entitled Gamut of gear available for bank fishing opened my eyes to the incredible array of tackle available to bank fisherman. There was a time when bank fishing was done with a cane pole. Of particular interest was the modern bank fisherman's use of baitfeeder spinning reels with two drags, heretofore only popular among saltwater anglers.

Finally, I had earlier referenced the Carrot Stix fishing rods made from carrots that were all the rage at ICAST this year. I missed out on linking a couple of other articles of interest. The first is an article on Scented Fishing Lures including some nifty "realistic" feeling lures.

Lucky Craft Real Skin Pointer

The second article is about the latest trend in fishing tackle entitled Swimbaits more than just a passing fancy.

The third article is ICAST50 New Product Blog that covers some of the more interesting products available. My favorite is the bumble-bee spinner.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lead to the Head leads to New Lead, by Jack Bright

This is one of my favorite submissions, sent to me by Jack Bright, long-time collector and a bastion of the ORCA community. It is certainly one of the most intriguing ways to develop a lead!

One Sunday, being a nice day. Thought I'd go to the Thornapple, a nice smallmouth river just 5 minutes from my house. Picked a neat spot for my folding chair, and a couple of cigars to enjoy. Noticed a 30ish lady just downstream about 10 yards fishing, I found this intriguing, not many young ladies out fishing by themselves these days, and watched as she tossed her nightcrawler into a hole just downstream, we chatted a bit. She said she had caught a couple about 14" and returned them. Admirable!

A few kids yelling and splashing about turned out to be hers. We chatted a bit more. Suddenly she was snagged on a rock or log and started pulling hard, must have been strong line, the hook came loose and came directly at me, the bell sinker, about a 1/2 ounce, hit me just above my glasses and stunned me. Checked my forehead, I was bleeding, as though I had been shot! She panicked and was very apologetic. She got her large tackle box and checked for a bandage -- none. At that point I asked to look at the contents of the box, explaining my interests in collecting, and she said she would bring her Grandfathers tackle from her families cottage up north. You never know !

All of this just goes to show you that you should always BE PREPARED. You never know when a lead might develop, or when you might run into a woman on a trout stream in a bikini fishing, like the following story from Larry Myrhe in The Sioux City Journal entitled The girl, the trout and the bikini (or, How my career as a professional fly fisherman swam away).

-- Dr. Todd in Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Review: Stream Dynamics for the Complete Fly Fisherman by Robert A. Miller

A Love Letter to a New Book

DISCLAIMER: This is a biased review. Normally, I would not review a book that I had a hand in editing and distributing, nor would I review a book written by one of my best friends. This book is an exception, and I will tell you why.

When I first got the manuscript for Robert A. Miller's new book Stream Dynamics for the Complete Fly Fisherman, available from the The Whitefish Press, I was dumbfounded. The book is unlike anything ever written on fishing; indeed, it is so good it should be a required textbook for all beginning Forestry Management, Outdoor Rec, and Geology college students, let alone any fisherman who seeks to be a better angler and a better person.

What the book is about is how to appreciate fishing by being more knowledgeable about your surroundings. Robert A. Miller knows what he is talking about; many who recognize him for his outstanding work in The Reel News, where he is of course "Pflueger Pfacts" columnist, as well as his books on Pflueger reels, most recently The History of the Pflueger Supreme, only know part of the story. But when he is not tearing apart reels and rewriting the history of Pflueger fishing tackle, Bob is a world-class geologist. A former lecturer in environmental geology and geomorphology at Vanderbilt University, he spent several decades as a research geologist for the Tennessee Geologic Survey and co-founded the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, work for which he was awarded the 1969 Holiday Magazine Award for a Beautiful America (just to tell you how prestigious this award was, the other winner that year was First Lady Lady Bird Johnson).

All of this is to tell you Bob knows of what he speaks. And like all great teachers, Bob takes you through every aspect of geology and how it affects the rivers and streams that you fish. Although slanted toward fly fisherman, anyone who has ever fished a stream or lake will find something to make them a more intelligent angler. For example, have you ever wondered why fish congregate in one part of a river and not another? Why some streams support fish better than others? How different rivers are formed? What exactly an Oxbow is? Your answers are found in this wonderful book.

Chapters include The Sources of Running Water, Groundwater and Its Influence on Stream Classification, Hydraulics: The Nature of Flowing Water, The Business of Streams, Stream Channels and Other River-Made Features, Valley Origins, Drainage Patterns, Artificial Alterations to Streams, Stream Damage Corrective and Mitigation Measures, Back to the Present: Relating the Geologic Past to Today’s Rivers, A Brief History of Life Through the Geologic Age, and two great appendices-- Basic Stream Dynamics Equations and a detailed Glossary worth the price by itself.

In layman's terms that do not speak down to the reader, Miller constantly frames the geologic processes surrounding us at all times to the pragmatic art of angling. You are never more than a page or two away from the fish. To understand the water that surrounds us is to make us all more complete and accomplished fishermen and women, and this work completely washes you in a sea of information, all presented in a totally understandable manner. It is fully illustrated with fantastic line-art drawings by the author--who also painted the wonderful cover.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is how it quietly and without preaching stresses the importance of keeping our rivers and lakes clean. Those who have followed Bob's missives on environmentalism on ORCA's Reel Talk know what Bob's opinions are on the "sky is falling" kind of environmentalism so prevalent today. Here we find a love and respect of nature and the forces that shape it that only the most ignorant could find fault with.

I love this book. It is unlike anything I have ever read before, and will stand as the primer for its field well into the future. It may not make you a better collector of fishing tackle, but it will make you a better and smarter person. I promise.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Voices from the Past: Theodore Gordon Part II

In the second part of Ted Gordon's seminal article on flies, he talks about many important developments, particularly as they concern trying to break away from the mold of English flies because although so many insects in America resemble British counterparts, they are different in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. I also found of great interest his discussion on fish hooks.

Ted Gordon

A Little Talk About the Anglers' Flies, Part II


Theodore Gordon

One day last June I would have (cheerfully) paid $2 for just one more fly. I had tied only one, as I fancied it too dark for the season, and the hackles were too rare to waste. However, there was a tremendous rise of these dark caddis flies. Many were hatching out. while older insects were laying eggs and doing stunts in the air over the water. All the water and the air over it seemed full of excitement and the trout were crazy. I broke my hook in extracting it from the hard roofing of a big trout's mouth, and there I was, with the fish rising under my nose. I tried pattern after pattern and did kill one trout with a very dark hare's ear, but that was all. I put on the broken fly by way of experiment and rose six large fish one after another. We do not have these opportunities often in a season. but I shall not stock up with this fly. Its period is too short, as next day the show of fly was not great, and I had difficulty in finding the good fish. They had dropped down on to the shallow water while I was patiently fishing the pools. However, I found them before dusk and killed three, every one of which made a grand rush for his pool the instant he felt the book. After leaving the water the dun (sub-imago) does not move about much after finding a good resting place, sheltered from the wind and sun until it undergoes the transfiguration into a spinner, or perfect insect of the Ephemeridae, and the latter will often remain at rest for a day or two.

I have had them under observation at large and also in boxes. The caddis flies are perfect insects when they rise from the water and the stone flies remain among the stones for some time while growing their wings. Many queer insects appear from time to time, but they are not usually of importance to the angler. If he fishes at night he may want a few big flies. The moths and large brown caddis flies are often about, but for daylight work rather small flies usually kill best. On the high water, when the trout had fed well, I made the mistake of fishing flies too large and lost a couple of fine fish by it. I discovered that the trout were not hooking well and changed to much smaller flies with satisfactory results. The fish were probably a bit shy and indifferent, as the first conspicuous fly put up was refused by two trout. Yet many had been taken with the same pattern earlier. When the stone flies are growing wings, one may find the trout close in shore in water that will scarcely cover them. When a man takes to the floating fly, it is well for him to have had much experience of wet-fly fishing, not only with lures, but with small imitations of nature. He will not be apt to affect or feel superiority, as he knows that there is a science of the wet-fly as well as of the dry.

Big trout are at times averse to breaking the surface, and ill waters where they feed almost entirely upon minnows, the floater may only tempt the small fish. A man who confines himself to fly-fishing on free waters should be proficient with the wet, dry and even the sunk fly. If there are very big trout about, you want one of them, and there is this to be said for the artificial purist. He develops all that is inherent in the fly. Small wet flies and imitation of the nymphs are being used to some extent on the chalk streams of England; the home of the dry-fly for a great many years. If the trout are feeding just under the surface upon immature insects, why not meet them there? The larva and remains of grub cases will often be found in their stomachs. We fish the dry-fly because it is most interesting, not because [it is] superior. There have been some wonderfully clever men with the wet-fly. If a man is excited when casting a dry-fly to a large trout, he is apt to strike too quickly and too hard, pull the fly away from the fish, or leave it in its mouth. Fine gut will not endure being jerked, yet will bear a steady strain.

Fishermen should be considerate of each other and remember that other men are following them. On a big stream in a full water the trout are not so easily seared, and I have had a good day after nine men had preceded me, but a careless or indifferent angler can spoil sport for hours on low water or in a small stream.

We are greatly interested at present in the problem of providing sport on free waters for the rapidly growing army of anglers. Much can be done by restocking with fingerlings or larger trout, but probably still more by saving the streams of rapid descent, checking the terrific forces of the water and rolling stones in time of flood, and providing safe harbors with deep waters for the larger trout during long drouths. If this work is skillfully done, the cost need not be very great. Trout can go without food for a considerable time, but feed freely when the water rises. In floating flies much depends upon a well-shaped hook, and for small flies nothing seems to be better than the Hall. Big hooks may spoil sport when not well taken, and with tiniest midge hooks one is apt to miss or scratch a good many fish. I have fussed over hooks for many years and spent time and more cash than I should in the pursuit of perfect hooks, only to arrive at tile conclusion that several bends are good when well made. Also that fine wired hooks are best for fine fishing in a low water, but that stout wires are required where the trout run large. On the back cast the fly is moving at high speed, and any hook may be broken if it touches a hard object. Plenty of expensive salmon flies have been ruined in this way, even when dressed in the heaviest O'Shaughnessy or Pennell hooks.

While we have a wonderful variety in insect life, and many more large flies than are found on English waters, we also have many flies that approximate British species in size and color. For instance, we have lovely little red spinners, jenny spinners, yellow and blue duns, big spring browns and many others. We have whacking big red spinners and many caddis flies different from any described by English writers. Even when one finds insects that are very similar in size and color, they are not quite the same.

I found a lot of small Ephemeridae that appeared to be dull Jenny spinners, but saw that they were duns (sub-imagos). After shedding their coats they appeared as lonely little spinners with clear glassy wings. The markings at the tail end and thorax were similar to the English Jenny. A similar but larger fly had only a touch of color below the wings.

Ephemeridae Family--The Mayfly

When insects are plentiful upon the water or have been so recently, imitation may be of great importance, but when the trout are in position to feed, they may be quite ready to accept any natural appearing fly if it is presented attractively. Theories are interesting, but of little value unless they have been tested on the stream. We can theorize as much as we please and fish as much as we are able during many years, but there is always something new to learn; some fresh difficulty to be conquered.

-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Duncan, OK Show Report by Jerry Jolly

Jerry Jolly, author of a forthcoming book on Pflueger Lure Patents, has graciously provided a nifty write up of the events surrounding the recent Duncan, OK tackle show that he hosted. Sounds like it was a real winner!

The Duncan Tackle Show

By Jerry Jolly

The second annual Duncan Fishing and Tackle show was held Aug. 10th and 11th at the Stephens County Fair Grounds in Duncan, OK. On Friday, Aug. 10th the air-condition Banquet Room had 43 tables filled with just about any type of fishing tackle and fishing related items one could imagine. During the morning hours, before the doors opened to the public at around 12 noon, everyone was busy setting up their tables with their goodies. It was kind of comical watching someone arrive and carry their stuff in because when they opened up the cases, boxes, or tackle boxes everyone else flocked to them like a duck on a June bug. There was a whole bunch of buying, selling, and trading that went on between everyone before the public began coming in. A couple guys came in a little late and it was the same scenario when they began unpacking their items. Of course, there had to be a little bantering and good natured ribbing along with the trading. A couple of the participants had to leave Friday evening but there was still about 36 tables full of stuff when the doors opened at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Karl White Greets Visitors

Karl White was there Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to give appraisals, sign books, and sell books if anyone wanted one. Several items came thru the door for appraisal including one gentleman that brought in a box containing a Rhodes minnow and a rotary bait with a metal head and wooden body. I personally did not get to see the stuff but others said it was awesome. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything come in to be bought but we will try to rectify that for next year.

Those having tables this year were: Emmrod of Oklahoma, Duncan Lakes Commission,OK, Gerald Brake, OK; Willis Logan, OK; Ray Cromer, OK; Glen Huckabee, TX; Layne Wilkerson, TX; Robert Moore, TX; Pete Fisher, TX; Karl White, OK; Ed Brown, AR; Galen Smith, OK; Shirley Watkins, OK; Kevin Witte, OK; Victor Stephens, OK; Brent House, TX; Gary Maupin, OK; Jerry Gregg, OK; Robert Bosley, OK; and, of course, Jerry Jolly, OK and host. I displayed my Pflueger reel and metal collection, Ray Cromer displayed 2 cases of baits he collects (sorry Ray I forgot what they were), and Ed Brown displayed some cases of his Rebel collection. Our good friend Shane Kern from Falcon Rods was there with two big bags of traders and boy did the ducks jump on that June bug when he showed up.

Tackle Available at the Duncan Show

More Tackle Shots

Lots of Tackle was Available in Duncan

Attendance by the public was outstanding. Confirmed attendance was about 525 for the two days with an estimated attendance of between 700-800. The ladies at the welcome table tried to keep track but they were kept busy taking donations for the door prize tickets so they couldn’t count everyone. Plus people were coming in the back doors also. This year the following donated items to be given as door prizes:

Falcon Rods, Duncan Wal-Mart, Zebco Int’l, Tulsa, Duncan Lakes Commission, Duncan Chicken Express, Dave’s Cave, Duncan, and my wife and I. All total we had 26 door prizes. From the donations for the tickets for the door prizes, 25% was donated to the Stephens County American Cancer Society Relay For Life and 10$ went to the Women’s Haven for battered, abused, and assaulted men, women, and children here in Duncan. J&M Original Fried Pies sold all varieties of fresh made fried pies, which are delicious, and Duncan Chicken Express also donated tea and cups each day.

Shane Kern of Falcon Rods (white shorts) with two bags of trading stock

All in all, a great time was had by all and I estimate that the show next year, Aug. 8th and 9th, will be even bigger. The show this year was 3 tables short of being twice as big as last year, the first one. This show is open to anyone and everyone and the public gets in free every minute the door is open. This year nothing was brought in to be sold but there was a whole bunch of stuff that went out the door that the public bought. Kevin Witte sold everything he brought.

If anyone would like information mailed to them for next year’s show please send me your name and address and I will put you on the mailing list. You can email me at

Sounds like a terrific show and one that Jerry should be proud of. Jerry has posted additional pictures on his web site.

-- Dr. Todd