Bass Fishing 1961

Before Charlie Campbell was making waves with the Zara Spook on the Bassmaster Tour, he was making his name in Missouri as a guide. Photo 1961 Don Fuelsch Southern Anglers Guide.

Before Charlie Campbell was making waves with the Zara Spook on the Bassmaster Tour, he was making his name in Missouri as a guide. Photo 1961 Don Fuelsch Southern Anglers Guide.

Bass-specific magazines didn’t come around until the Spring 1968 issue of Bassmaster hit B.A.S.S. members’ mailboxes. Prior to that, bass anglers had to wade through the outdoors magazines of the time in order to get their fix of bass fishing information. Having a good number of vintage outdoors magazines, it was mostly famine rather than feast when it came to learning out to catch bass from periodicals.

One publication that was first published in 1961 did provide a lot of information on the five Ws of bass fishing – the Who, What, Where, Why and When. That publication, and we’ve mentioned it here a number of times, was Don Fuelsch’s Southern Angler and Hunters Guide. I’m still trying to figure out exactly who Fuelsch was, that’ll be another story in time, but I can say this with confidence, he put together one of the most complete compilations of fishing information I’ve seen. [Read more…]

Swedish Record Ambassadeur – 1954

Swedish Record Ambassadeur 5000 ad from June 1954. From The Fisherman magazine.

Swedish Record Ambassadeur 5000 ad from June 1954. From The Fisherman magazine.

About a year ago we posted a piece regarding an old Ambasadeur 5000/6000 ad from 1955 and the fact that Garcia wasn’t mentioned anywhere. I contacted Bill Sonnett, who sent me the ad in the first place, and asked him what the deal was and who exactly was Julian A. Wesseler. He sent me to one of the ABU experts of the world, Fred Ribb, who explained to me that although Garcia was given the first shot at representing ABU in the U.S. in 1954, they balked at the chance and Julian Wesseler became the first rep in the states.

Well, tonight as I was reading through a stack of early 1950s The Fisherman magazines, I found not only an early ad but an actual write-up by Art Hutt on the new Swedish Ambassadeur. [Read more…]

Battle of the Minnow Lures

Rapala ad from 1966.

Rapala ad from 1966.

Lauri Rapala is rightfully credited with the advent of the contemporary minnow lure, which he first carved out of cork in 1936. Yes, there were other “minnow” lures before that but nothing that could compare to the shape and movement of the Original Floating Rapala.

It wouldn’t be until the mid-1950s that a few of the lures would make their way from Finland to America and for those who had them the results are legendary. Then in 1959 two Minnesota anglers by the names of Ron Weber and Ray Ostrom, came together to import Rapala lures to the U.S. under the name of Normark.

Although the Rapala got its formal introduction in 1960 through Weber and Ostrom’s Normark Corporation, the bait wouldn’t get national recognition until 1962 – specifically in Life Magazine. That was the issue with the recently deceased Marilyn Monroe – the most-sold issue of Life ever. That historic coincidence put Rapala on the map. [Read more…]

John-Rude – 1946

Evinrude ad from 1946.

Evinrude ad from 1946.

A few weeks ago we posted a piece about the start of Mercury Motors in the early 40s. Today we have the two main competitors, or should I say Mercury’s competitors not only for the ‘40s but well through the turn of the century, Johnson and Evinrude.

For those of you who remember the Outboard Marine Company, or more commonly referred to as OMC, you remember that Johnson and Evinrude were both part of that conglomeration. But that wasn’t the case prior to 1936. In fact, both companies were competitors up until that time.

Ole Evinrude is credited by some to be the inventor of the outboard motor industry. In 1882, when he was five years old, his family emigrated from Norway to the U.S. and landed in Milwaukee, WI. By the time he was 25, he’d developed his first outboard motor – a 1.5 horsepower model that was introduced publicly in 1909. [Read more…]

Zorro 1977

1977 Zorro Ad.

1977 Zorro Ad.

Stan Sloan will forever hold the distinction of being the first angler to win a Ray Scott event – winning the first All-American held on Beaver Lake in 1967. Sloan could also claim another first, that being the man who designed the built the bait that won the first Bassmaster Classic in 1971 at Lake Mead, NV. Over the course of his professional bass fishing career, Sloan never fished a full year on the Bassmaster Trail. The closest he came to that was the 1973 season where he fished five events. Most years he only fished two or three events, yet he made the Classic the first five years in a row.

Aside from being one of the top anglers in the early history of competitive bass fishing, Sloan was also a corrections officer, but more importantly, he was a superb bait maker. His Zorro Aggravator spinnerbaits were some of the most-used spinnerbaits of the time – winning numerous events in the early years. [Read more…]

Bass Rod Technology 1950

Heddon Bamboo Casting Rods from their 1950 catalog.

Heddon Bamboo Casting Rods from their 1950 catalog.

I recently procured a number of semi-old Heddon catalogs dating from the early 50s through the late 60s and have been pouring over them to see what the technology of the day was. There are a lot of familiar faces in the catalogs such as the Zara Spook, River Runt, Meadow Mouse, and Lucky 13 – to name a few. It’s really cool to go back and see some of the history of these world-class baits in their original design.

The earliest catalog I have is from the year 1950 and is the subject of this piece. It’s 81 pages long and doesn’t only have a listing of all their tackle, it has pages on how to fish their gear, who was fishing their gear (Homer Circle was one of the more well-known by today’s standards), how they made their gear, etc. It’s no wonder Heddon was the powerhouse of tackle manufacturing of the time. [Read more…]

More Bombers

1977 Bomber Speed Shad and Model A being sold in American Bass Fisherman magazine.

1977 Bomber Speed Shad and Model A being sold in American Bass Fisherman magazine.

A couple of weeks ago we did the first part of the 1978 Bassmaster season and in that article, we mentioned Hurley Board’s Lake Gaston win. Board attributed his win not just to sticking to his game plan but also to the use of a Bomber Speed Shad.

After that event, the Speed Shad became the predominant bait on both Gaston and Bugg’s (Kerr depending upon what side of the boarder you’re on) reservoirs. In fact, original Speed Shads are still in high demand for the North Carolina/Virginia boarder waters.

That article sent me on a mission to try and find an old Speed Shad ad to share with you – and I found one from 1977. Not only that, but I found three other Bomber ads dating from the same year, two of which feature crankbait legend, Floyd Mabry. [Read more…]

Plastic Worms 1962

1962 Burke Flexo-Products ad.

1962 Burke Flexo-Products ad.

We’ve discussed a number of times the advent of the contemporary plastic worm and some of the successful baits and manufacturers of the ‘70s and ‘80s. But we’ve talked little about those early PVC wonders. A couple years ago we did a piece on some old Creme, Bagley’s and DeLong baits Stan Fagerstrom showed us in his garage but other than that, we haven’t talked much about the ads from the ‘60s or earlier.

So, in order not to leave out the ‘60s plastic worm offerings, we have a few ads from that era to show you what was hot – or maybe just trying to be sold to the angler as revolutionary. [Read more…]

Homemade Plastics and Jigs 1962

Photo Don Fuelsch's 1962 Southern Angler's Guide.

Photo Don Fuelsch’s 1962 Southern Angler’s Guide.

Some say it was Nick Creme who invented the modern plastic worm in 1949 – others say it was Dave DeLong. In any event, the new PVC material took artificial worm fishing to an all-new level. Prior to PVC, artificial worms were made out of rubber – the kind your car tires are made of. They were hard, not very lifelike and left a lot to be desired when it came to action. Polyvinyl chloride changed all that.

Having grown up in southern California, hand pours were more the norm than the exception. Yeah, we used Jelly Worms, Diamond Backs and Mister Twisters but if you really wanted to catch fish, the ticket was Jim Smith’s hand poured Smitty Worms. Smith and his wife Carol ran a successful business out of their house in Glendale and supplied baits to nearly every tackle shop in the southland. But, if you ventured out of southern Cal, you were hard pressed to find anything hand poured let alone anyone who knew what a hand poured worm was. [Read more…]

The Magnum Tacklebox

Plano Magnum tackle box ad featuring Bill Dance

Plano Magnum tackle box ad featuring Bill Dance

There is an interesting progression of development and popularity between bass anglers and their tackle management systems. Nowadays, soft packs and individual accessory boxes seem to dominate the boats of anglers everywhere. If you go way back in time, toward our early tournament beginnings, we were still using the old drawer boxes, or “suitcases” as some of them were affectionately known as. In between these two eras though saw the development of a hybrid system, known most frequently by the name that Plano assigned to the box, the Magnum. Fenwick also manufactured a similar box around that time. [Read more…]

Creme Hardbaits?

1962 Creme Lures ad featuring two short-lived hardbaits, the Mad-Dad and the Du-Dad.

1962 Creme Lures ad featuring two short-lived hardbaits, the Mad-Dad and the Du-Dad.

The name Creme has been associated with bass fishing since they developed (arguably) the first contemporary plastic worm in 1949. As the story goes, Nick Creme, from Akron, Ohio, fashioned a new worm from the newly formulated polymer, polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Prior to that, most artificial worms were made of rubber. Creme’s new worms were not only soft but came in a number of colors and were scented.

Not only did bass anglers like them better than the old tire treads they’d been used to, the bass loved them too. In fact, it’s said that at one of the first tackle shows where the products were revealed, Creme sold close to 10,000 packs. At four to a pack, that’s a lot of worms. [Read more…]

Fenwick – The Gold Standard of Rods

Early Fenwick HMG Graphite rod ad.

Early Fenwick HMG Graphite rod ad.

I would hate to venture how many rod companies are out there today – it seems every small town across America has at least one. I’m not knocking this surge in rod companies by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s actually opened up a lot of different rod building concepts and, which in turn have had a big impact on the way rods are made today.

Back in the 60s and 70s, though, that wasn’t the case. At that time you had Browning who made the Silaflex, the Garcia Conolon line of rods, Heddon (who would actually make custom rods to order, and a couple other players. Factory rods were just that, factory rods and not too impressive. Many of these companies offered their blanks to the numerous custom shops that dotted the United States and the serious angler generally went that rout instead of purchasing some off the shelf. [Read more…]