Last Friday we ran a feature on The Outhouse, B.A.S.S.’s mail-order tackle shop, that was in business from the mid-‘70s through maybe the mid-‘80s. This week we’re going to cover another one of the magazine tackle shops, this time American Angler’s Selection.
By the late 70s, the success of Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops was obvious – so obvious that nearly every magazine publisher in bass fishing was getting into the mail-order tackle business. John Fox’s American Angler was another of the organizations to open shop.
In each of their magazines of the day they had a four to five page section devoted to their shop with tackle for the season. The problem with American Angler’s tackle was they didn’t sell too many “name brand” manufacturers gear and when they did, it was generally the cheap stuff.
For example, in this February/March 1979 ad touting their Winter Selection, there were only four name-brand manufacturers out of the 23 items listed. They were Fleck, Burke, Strike King and Pflueger. The Fleck worms I would have bought but I can tell you with a straight face, I have never owned a Burke product or a Pflueger product. Now with Strike King, I have way too many 6XDs in the boat right now along with a plethora of other baits they make.
Speaking of the Pflueger reel shown, the Original Supreme (I wonder if Diana Ross was happy with that?), I can’t figure out why, with so many great reels on the market at the time, they chose this one to sell? I mean, ABU 5000s weren’t that expensive, nor were the 5000Ds – both much better reels.
Other gear they were offering didn’t even mention the manufacturer. For example, Item 4 – Buzz Bait. Item 6 – Deluxe Dacron Snowmobile Suit. Item 7 – Promotional Snow and Cold Weather Boot. Item 23 – Fish Hooks (what kind of fish?)
Two other pieces of gear also caught my eye. Item 19 – the Way King. The net that you can land and weigh your fish in. I remember these things – man were they awful. Then there was Item 22 – U.S.N. Style Face Mask. I’d forgotten about these things. Looks like a Save Phace don’t it?
One thing that Johnny Morris had over all the other competitors was he offered the best tackle by the best manufacturers there were. Even his name-brand BPS gear was good or at least better than average.
Unlike B.A.S.S.’s The Outhouse, we know what happened to American Angler’s little shop. It went under when the organization folded in mid-1979, only a few months after this issue came out.