Book Reviews: The ABC’s of Trolling With Spoonplugs

Carl Malz on the cover of his booklet, "The ABC's of Trolling With Spoonplugs."

Carl Malz on the cover of his booklet, “The ABC’s of Trolling With Spoonplugs.”

When you spend much time looking at and researching old bass fishing memorabilia and history, you quickly realize that there is just so much stuff out there, one couldn’t possibly collect it all. So in my case, I’ve decided to focus my collections largely on the period of time around the old Fishing Facts and In-Fisherman beginnings from the 60s and 70s, and the “revolution” that occurred in the Midwest.

Terry has been posting some information recently about the old Northwoods mail order company which was tied in with Fishing Facts magazine. This particular book was sold by Northwoods (Item No. SP-1, $1.95). There is no listed publishing date, but I’d have to put it around the mid 70s if I were to guess. It was written by Carl Malz, who was a managing editor for Fishing Facts back in the day. From what I’ve read, Carl (along with Spence Petros) was a member of the Lake Geneva Fishing Club, which was created around 1965. When Bill Binkelman started up his Fishing News magazine, he took an interest in Lake Geneva and started attending some of their club meetings. There he met Carl and Spence, and they became “reporters” for the magazine, and eventually editors.

The booklet is 31 pages and stapled. There are several hand drawn diagrams throughout the book, but the only picture is the one of Carl holding a stringer of bass that graces the cover. The book starts by discussing the art of motor trolling, and tries to make its case. Keep in mind that this was right around the time of the first national bass tournaments gaining hold, and since they didn’t allow trolling as a method of competing, trolling was starting to get a bit of a bad rap publicity wise.

A diagram from the booklet showing proper trolling passes.

A diagram from the booklet showing proper trolling passes.

The booklet then moves on to discussing weedy lakes, again keeping in mind that much of this information (from Fishing Facts) was geared toward the northern natural lakes fisherman and not the southern impoundment angler. From there covers proper presentation and trolling passes, and how to use those to define various structure situations. Again, keeping in mind that portable depth finders were still a bit of a novelty, and flashers were about it – no graph units or GPS capabilities. The booklet then touches upon trolling wilderness lakes, those where no maps would have likely ever been made available. It also covers proper anchoring technique, as well as boat and motor preferences. Here the reader will note a big difference between the modern tournament bass angling mentality, where the horsepower race was in play, and bigger was better. To the contrary, the proper trolling rig was a smaller boat, preferably tiller, mostly aluminum and rarely fiberglass, and that sported a 10-25hp engine. This would become a big split between the two approaches over the next couple decades.

From there, proper rods, reels and lines are discussed, as are lures (mostly Spoonplugs) and lure colors. The book concludes with information on how to deal with snags, and some ‘lure manipulation techniques,’ as well as how to work drop-offs. While not a book that will be high on the list for modern bass anglers, it is a very neat little collectors item from the time period when the roots of structure fishing were first being planted by Buck Perry, and tournaments were starting to gain national prominence, as well as being a big influence into how the angling public perceived certain fishing methods.