Friday, December 9, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: The New Arbogast Hula Dancer (1946)

The New Arbogast Hula Dancer

This advertisement appears on the inside of the front cover of the May-June 1946 issue of Outdoorsman  magazine. World War II had ended the previous August and many fishing tackle companies that had been engaged in War production were gearing up to get back to making fishing tackle. Many ads in this time period reflect that effort. Unlike most larger companies, especially those that produced reels and rods, Arbogast was able to produce and sell baits during the War. Most collectors are familiar with the plastic lips on war-time Jitterbugs as well as various hook hardwares that were used in an effort to save metal for the war production.

It is always a pleasure to see an ad that answers very directly, questions concerning the history of fishing tackle. This ad does that on two counts.  The ad leaves no doubt that though the Hula Dancer has been experimented with for some time, this marks its formal introduction to the public. Fred Arbogast also states, "This is my first new bait since I brought out my Jitterbug in 1939." In speaking with Warren Platt (a long-time, collector and researcher of early Jitterbugs) this advertisement marks the first time that he or I have seen in print the date of 1939 claimed for the introduction of the Jitterbug. It has always been assumed that this date was correct as January 1939 is the earliest Jitterbug advertisement  found so far, but it is nice to see that confirmed here.

 I must admit that in my efforts to experiment with older lures, I have not yet tried the Hula Dancer. After seeing this beautiful advertisement, I'm going to make it a point to give one a try.

-- Bill Sonnett

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: The Creek Chub Bait Company's “New Creek Darter” (1923)

The Creek Chub Bait Company's “New Creek Darter” (1923)

by Bill Sonnett

This is another advertisement with much to ponder. It appeared in the July 1923 issue of Forest & Stream, a year before it made its first appearance in a Creek Chub Bait Company catalog in 1924. I was unaware (though it was there all the time in Dr. Smith's book) that this bait was originally called the “Creek Darter” before having its name shortened to the more familiar “Darter.” It is also commonly called by its catalog number the “2000.” No one that I have spoken with has seen the frog color listed, as it is in this advertisement, as “Frog Camouflage.” It is true that this early, light olive green version of the "Frog" coloration strongly resembles a military camouflage paint job rather than the more familiar dark green C.C.B.C. version of its “Frog” pattern.

Growing up, I never saw a C.C.B.C. Darter in any one's tackle box. I do remember reading that it was a favored lure in the deep South and it was prominent in photos of open tackle boxes in articles written about bass fishing by southern writers such as Robert E. Price. Ray Bergman called it an “exceptional killer in the frog finish."
My own experience with the Darter began fifteen years ago fishing with Warren Platt. Warren is not strictly a “one-lure fisherman” but is pretty darn close to it. His weapon of choice is the “2000 Darter” or its shorter cousin the “8000 Midget Darter.” It would never have occurred to me to fish these baits as he does, retrieving them on the surface with a steady twitching motion, making them “walk the dog” in the same fashion as a Zara Spook. The hang-up is that only a small minority of them “walk” in this fashion rather than swim to one side. No one seems to be able to figure out why this is or what adjustments to the bait would correct this condition. I believe Warren has tried about everything. I know there is always a lot of weeping and wailing when a big one makes off with one of his that “works” as it should.

I do not have the patience to fish this bait in this fashion but I will admit (if pressed) it has accounted for several, memorable “Bottom of the Ninth” victories in the other end of the boat. We'll finish today with Warren and one of many Bass that have surrendered to the "Old Frog Darter."

-- Bill Sonnett

Friday, November 18, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Millsite's "Daily Double" (1941)

The Millsite “Daily Double”

From the 1941 Sports Afield Fishing Annual comes this beautiful full page advertisement for the "new" Millsite Daily Double.

Almost forty years ago I was canoe camping with my fishing partner on an island twenty miles north of Chapleau, Ontario when a friend named Jim paddled in to spend a few days in camp. He was not a fisherman but he  brought along his Grandfather's tackle box, rod and reel with the intention of learning something about fishing. I had the job of looking over his supply of plugs and advising him on what he should use. Almost all of the plugs were 'second line' baits of dubious parentage and I saw nothing I had ever used. Though I had never seen one before, a frog colored Daily Double in his box looked enough like a Flatfish that I figured it was a good place to start. I was unfamiliar with the bait and truthfully thought that it was some sort of novelty lure that was designed to run at different depths depending on which end of the bait the line was attached to. I was not expecting too much in the way of results. I was right about the way it was suppose to work, but very wrong about its fishing catching abilities. Jim caught fish 'hand over fist' for three days before a large pike made off with his lure.
Fast forward forty years and the Millsite Daily Double has become a favorite of several well known collectors. The largest (in every sense of the term) Daily Double collector is Bill Hellmer (better known as “Bigfoot”) of Illinois. This is what Bill has to say about this ad:

“The lures and color numbers are all correct in the ad and are all in reference to musky size lures (700 series) as shown. The lures are made of Tenite Plastic, NEVER wood, as some people may like to think. The lures pictured are 4 inches in length and all have the double line tie, which allows the fisherman to run the lure shallow (2-3ft) or deep (5 ft+).  Usually the lures are marked under the chin with the words "deep" & "shallow" on opposite ends.

The twelve colors shown in this advertisement were the standards, however, other colors were also made and sold. Perch scale 704, solid black no #, 1/2 blk /whte (the newer 709), were a few.  And as with many lure manufacturers, "Saturday Specials"  appeared as well. As far as I know the Daily Doubles were introduced in 1941 and were not taken out of the catalog in any following years.  Along with the 700 series there was the 400 and 800 series. The 800 was considerd Bass and Pike size, while the 400 series was the spin or fly rod size at only 2 inches.
My first Daily Double, an orange one, came as a gift from my Uncle around 1955 (I was ten). He told me he was giving it to me because he never had a hit on it. My first cast (right in front of Uncle Floyd) produced a Largemouth Bass, and a big, 'Thank you Unc'. The look on his face was priceless."

Thanks Bill.  I can only add one thing to Bill's information: the darn thing does catch fish!

-- Bill Sonnett

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deconstructing Old Ads: Al Foss (1928)

Latest Al Foss Creations for 1929

The Sporting Goods Journal was a publication that went out to the industry to keep dealers and jobbers informed about new products and prices. The Fall 1928 edition has much news for the trade about upcoming products for 1929. I found this advertisement for “Latest Al Foss Creations for 1929” to be of interest on many counts.

Lets start with the “Dixie Wiggler.” I will admit that until I read this ad I did not know that the “Ponca” style spinner seen here on the Dixie Wiggler was designed to, “cut its way through the weeds making a clear passage for the hook." Al also touts the Dixie's “Pull when retreating” saying it keeps the line taught making hooking striking fish more effective. I am reminded here that Al was a renowned tournament caster and knew the value of good spooling.

Changes for the Oriental Wiggler that caught my eye were the introduction of colors other than red and white. In Al's words, “We have always refused to put them out in colors, except red and white, but now, answering an insistent demand from the trade, we are adding a black and white and a yellow and white combination.” According the Jim Frazier's book on Al Foss, what Al was not telling us was that solid red and solid white were being discontinued.

It is not often that ones sees an announcement in an ad that a lure is being “retired”. This introduction for the “New Egypt Wiggler” announces, “This lure is a wonderful improvement over the original Little Egypt Wiggler, which we want to retire to keep our line down. While we realize that the Little Egypt has a host of friends and they will give it up reluctantly, yet a trial of the new one will convince them we are giving them a more effective lure.” I may be too skeptical here but I'm guessing that it was a lot cheaper to make the New Little Egypt (a flat metal stamping) than the original Little Egypt with its hinged parts and glass eyes.

Finally the ad ends with one of Al's usual colloquial quips: “You tackle dealers who 'know your onions' know that Al Foss makes nothing but high class lures and that is the kind that sells. Al does the experimenting himself and does not make it until he KNOWS that it is good. So get busy and put in these items

-- Bill Sonnett

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Streater's Thought of the Week

Every Sunday Dick Streater gives us his thought of the week, culled from his voluminous files on fishing and tackle history.

Streater's Thought of the Week: The early Heddon surface bait was called the Dowagiac Minnow, and so surface fishing was called "dowjackin'".

-- Dr. Todd

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday, May 28, 2008