Monday, December 31, 2012

News of the Year: 2012

My 20 Favorite Fishing Related Stories of 2012
1) The Romanian National Carp Fishing Team finds ingenious way to win the world championship.

2) The last fish hook maker in Redditch has hung up his forms.

3) Chinese fisherman nets fish worth cool half million.

4) Jim Hardy of the famed firm has passed away.

5) Why Buck Perry is such a fishing legend.

6) Northwestern tackle gets profiled in this awesome article from The Seattle Times.

7) A neat article on cane rod maker Walter Babb.

8) Sad news--Normark co-founder Ray Ostrom has passed away. Plus a nifty history of Rapala.

9) Dennis Bryant of Toledo--noted luremaker--gets profiled.

10) Sad news--man drowns while trying to save his fishing rod

11) Just an awesome article on Ted Juracsik, the man who changed fly fishing forever.

12) The new Karl Lagerfeld Chanel Fishing Rod is what all the chic anglers will be fishing with.

13) Kent Romney (Mitt's Cousin) is a tackle manufacturer…down Mexico way.

14) Young girl is a fly-tying phenom.

15) A big fish tale to beat them all.

16) Very sad news: Former Strike King owner and noted tackle rep Ray Murski passes away.

17) A dying wife presents her husband with a special gift: a bamboo fly rod.

18) Jimmy Kimmel's fly fishing guide to the Rockies.

19) Syracuse's skinniest building -- a former tackle shop -- is up for sale.

20) One of our favorites around here, the Fly Fishing Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer, is interviewed on NPR.

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Deconstructing Old Ads with Bill Sonnett: An Idea That Never Caught On – I Wonder Why?

Once in a while I run into an ad that makes me stop and wonder what was going through the mind of the person who came up with the idea. This ad is from the April 1927 issue of Outdoor America and is for the Martin Automatic Fly Reel. The automatic fly reel made by Martin has been around a long time and is familiar to anyone who has done a lot of fly fishing. They are still sold today. I personally have always preferred a single action fly reel rather than an automatic, but automatics are very popular around here, especially among bluegill fishermen. The Martin has long been recognized as one of the best.

I seriously doubt that I could find one veteran fisherman who ever thought of using his automatic fly reel as a baitcaster. When I first saw this ad I couldn't imagine what they were talking about. After reading the ad it turns out to be even stranger than one would expect.

I have taken the step of blowing up the pertinent explanatory portion of the the ad for easier reading.

Obviously this would only work (if it worked at all) on a straight handled bait casting rod. I have serious doubts as to the distance achievable. If one did hook a really big one, hand lining on to the reel would be needed as the fish approached the boat due to the spring losing tension as more line was replaced on the reel. I wish I had an old side-mount Martin around here. I'd like to give this idea a try just to see if it did work.

-- Wild Bill Sonnett

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Friday Funhouse

The Video of the Week

One man spends hundreds of hours underwater filming fish in their environments…check out how a pike takes a soft bait and how it fights when hooked. You can learn a lot from these videos….

12 Things I Would Buy If Only I Could Afford Them

Well, this is a pretty rare piece of Heddon ephemera!

This is a great Gene Edwards 7' fly rod.

These Forest & Stream tobacco tins are really rare.

Zane Grey owned lures are always popular.

A Midget Surf Oreno in the box is an incredible combo in copper.

Instant Collection Alert: a half dozen Clyde C. Hoage water gremlin magnetic weedless lures.

A Rhodes Wooden Minnow wooden box is a cool find.

This hand made Wisconsin musky lure is bizarre.

A Heddon Lucky 13 in the box in a rare color is a treat.

Shur Strike made some pretty colors, but peanut butter is one of the nicest.

Brilliant Greenback is…well…brilliant.

This is a SUPERB L&S Jumbo Shiner in the box!

As always, have a great weekend, and be nice to each other--and yourself!

-- Dr. Todd

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Short History of Tackle Boxes

A Short History of Tackle Boxes

by Dr. Todd E.A. Larson

Basically, the earliest tackle boxes were either leather or wood; these persisted into the 1930s and 1940s (Tronicks of Wisconsin was one of the best makers of wood tackle boxes of the 1900-1940 era and Richard Wheatley of Great Britain exported leather boxes to America during the same era). The 19th century models are not very common today simply because the early angler had little need (and most could not afford) large amounts of fishing tackle. This began to change with the advent of cheaper tackle in the 1870s. Some popular makers of leather tackle boxes included Knickerbocker (Chicago) and Excelsior (Stamford, CT). These were always more expensive than their metal counterparts.

A classic Knickerbocker leather tackle box.

Of course, throughout the Victorian era there was a thriving trade for local carpenters and tanners to make these boxes in most localities as well, and as this was a handier age, many anglers simply made their own. Some of these folk art boxes, as we call them today, are true works of art. Most are unmarked and they come in an astounding variety of styles when they do come to market, which is rarely.

A great 1940s Seamaster wood box by Driftwood Co. of Stuart, Florida.

Metal tackle boxes started making in-roads in the 1870s and they were marketed by every retailer and wholesaler in the nation; manufacturers like the Milwaukee firm of Geuder & Paeschke's Cream City line (the name taken from the nickname of Milwaukee in the 19th century) made millions of cheap boxes for the American angler. Stratton & Terstegge of Louisville marketed a line of Fall's City and My Buddy boxes and soon became a prominent maker of metal tackle boxes, and were followed by Kennedy and others. There was little distinction between tool boxes and tackle boxes for most of the early 20th century, as they served a similar purpose. You often find vintage tackle in what is marked a tool box, and vintage tools in what may be marketed as a tackle box.

A classic turn of the century Cream City tackle box.

The 1930s saw the first widely popular plastic tackle boxes. Many of the first forays into this field were small hand-held ones for fly fishing; I have a great South Bend round celluloid plastic fly box that dates about 1933 and is so dainty it would be crushed if you looked at it wrong. Millsite of Michigan made a very popular round plastic tackle box (tackle holder really) for a number of years beginning in the 1930s, sold as the Daisy Fly Box and copied by a number of other firms. It was originally made by another firm and purchased by Millsite, as outlined in Steve Lumpkin's book.

A Millsite Daisy fly box.

It wasn't until the immediate post-World War 2 era that plastic tackle boxes really began to take off--coinciding with the revolution in both the plastics industry caused by the war and in American fishing spawned by returning G.I.s and spinning tackle. Many household fishing names--Plano (of Illinois), UMCO (Minneapolis), Falls City, PAL, and others saturated the market with new plastic tackle boxes, but continued for some time (in UMCO and PAL's case) making aluminum boxes as well. These vintage aluminum tackle boxes sometimes sell for hundreds of dollars to Japanese bass fishermen on internet auction sites.

An UMCO #1000A was made from aluminum.

Numerous smaller manufacturers sprung up as well throughout the 20th century, including Keystone (Chicago) who made Sports Pal boxes, Liberty Steel Chest Corporation, Walton (Union, IL, makers of Grip-Loc brand, a real tank of a box that weighed about 10 pounds), Simonsen (Chicago), etc. All made metal tackle boxes and some transitioned into the plastic era.

This 1930s Simonsen metal tackle box has a classic look.

All of these firms faced stiff competition beginning in the late 1950s from Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, and lastly (in the last decade) Chinese imports, but as the bass fishing revolution took hold in the 1960s, they wisely began making specialized boxes for different kinds of fishing on a wide scale. Possum-bellies and, of course, the Plano 747 helped bass pros and weekend anglers alike carry their Big-Os, Rebels, Rapalas, Cotton Cordells, and the like from lake to lake.

A cheap 1960s imported plastic tackle box.

A Plano 757 was a bass fisherman's dream.

In the 1970s and 1980s, we get a lot of new tackle box companies, such as Old Pal/Woodstream, Umco, Flambeau and the aforementioned Plano, offering inexpensive plastic boxes which made their way into other fields, such as jewelry, arts and crafts, etc.

A rare UMCO #700 clippable tackle box.

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Voices from the Past: Christmas Fishing (1877)

The following blurb came from the Indiana School Journal for December 1877. It was written by Charles Wackford of Shawnee Prairie, Indiana, and retells a very charming Christmas tradition mixed with fishing. I love it.

We reached home at ten o'clock, receiving an invitation on the way to eat Christmas dinner with the Graham family. Their family and ours took Christmas together at our house last year. It was half past twelve when we reached there, and they had dinner at one.

After dinner, the first thing to receive attention was the Christmas fishing. It was a substitute for a Christmas tree, and I think a very good one, for it was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and was much less trouble than a tree. All the gifts were placed in paper sacks, such as the grocers use, and upon the sack, or upon a card attached, was written the name of the one for whom the gift was intended, and also the name of the giver. These were all placed in a clothes basket and set in the back parlor. The folding doors were partly opened and a sheet stretched across the opening, extending from the floor up about four feet.

Mr. Frank King, the teacher in the district school, took charge of the basket, while all the rest of the company gathered in the parlor. Two little children did the fishing, standing upon chairs. Their fishing poles were sticks like pointers at school, and the lines were strong cords, such as are used in hanging pictures. The hooks were simply bent into a suitable form. They would throw their lines over the sheet, and then Mr. King would put a sack on the hook and jerk the string a little, whereupon the young fisherman would say, "There, there's a bite," and then draw up his fish. After his grandpa had taken it off die hook and told for whom it was intended, the little fellow would deliver it to its proper owner and then run back to his fish pond, while the remainder of the party watched the opening of the sack to see what kind of a fish it might be.

Most of them were useful articles, but some were nuts, candies and toys. One little girl, Nora, who is just ready to emerge from the chart class at school, fished up a First Reader for herself, and after seeing it she said she did not want to fish any more, handed the pole to her mother, and sat down to read her book. It was not long, however, till she was fishing again. At the close of this exercise, the children took possession of the dining room and improvised another fishing party, using the same gifts again.
-- Dr. Todd

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

A repost from the past (and last 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!"

Merry Christmas!

-- Dr. Todd

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Annual Christmas Music Post

It's been a rather depressing month here, so I thought I'd give a different theme to this year's Christmas Music post. Here's ten songs about the Christmas Blues.

We'll start with the great Dino singing I Guess I Got the Christmas Blues.

Then there's Little Esther and Mel Walker with the Johnny Otis Orchestra with Far Away Christmas Blues.

If rock is more your style, how about The Fratellis with Lonesome Anti-Christmas Blues?

Of if country's your thing, you can have Red Sovine's Is There Really A Santa Claus?

Or maybe soul does it for you -- here's Sad, Sad Christmas by Soul Duo.

How about John Lee Hooker with Blues for Christmas.

Here's Blind Blake killing it with Lonesome Christmas Blues.

And Blind Lemon Jefferson with a different Christmas Eve Blues.

And who could forget Blue Christmas from the animated special Year Without A Santa Clause.

And finally, we get the Pogues (featuring the amazing Kirsty McColl) singing Fairytale of New York.

So if that's enough Christmas Blues for you, I'll leave you with Run/DMC with Christmas in Hollis.

I hope everyone has a warm and happy holiday season, keeps their loved ones near, and remember those who have passed on. -- Dr. Todd

Sunday, December 23, 2012

1000 Words

Author Jeff Della Mura sent me this photo, and it was too good not to share. It captures fishing and Christmas as good as anything, in my book...

-- Dr. Todd

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Deconstructing Old Ads: Christmas -- When I Was a Boy

When I saw this December 1948 Field & Stream cover I was immediately reminded of the anticipation and thrill I felt as a young boy when each Christmas rolled around. When we are small children it feels like an eternity from one Christmas to the next. As we get older, time seems to compress. This trend, I am told by folks in their 90's, continues through out life no matter how long we live. Just today I got out the ladder and climbed up into the loft over my garage and carried down those heavy storage bins full of Christmas decorations. Heck -- seems like I just put them away! When I was three years old I thought Winter would never end so I could go outside again. This slow passage of time must explain why as young children we feel that we are going to live forever.

My favorite Christmas memories are the ones when I was a child and those when my own children were small. The anticipation of a particular, desired gift became almost too much to bear. I am reminded of the boy "Ralphie" in the movie The Christmas Story who fantasizes for weeks about the possibility of a “Red Rider BB Gun” being under the tree. For my own boys, now 40 and 39 years old, it was “Star Wars” items that they dreamed about. For myself, it was hunting and fishing items like the boy on this cover. I still remember the thrill of different Christmas days when I received a hunting jacket, a fishing reel or other outdoor treasure. My folks were not hunters or fishermen, but they understood my passion for these hobbies and tried to indulge them. I had an Uncle Bert in Pennsylvania who understood my world and always seemed to come up with a perfect gift. At age 14 he sent me two plugs, a Jitterbug and a Dalton Special. I had never seen or heard of a Dalton Special but he assured me in a note that it had a reputation as a hot lure in Florida where he spent his winters. A bass took the Dalton Special, I still have that Jitterbug.

I'll be 69 in just a few days but these Christmas memories are still strong and still bring warm feelings. The purpose of this Christmas message is to hopefully awaken pleasant Christmas memories in each of you and encourage you to provide your children, your grandchildren or less fortunate children in your neighborhood memories that will stay with them in years to come. May the “Prince of Peace” be with you and your family.

Merry Christmas to All!

May 1917 Bristol advertisement.

-- Wild Bill