Book Review – Deconstructing Old Ads

Deconstructing Old Ads by William T. Sonnett.

Deconstructing Old Ads by William T. Sonnett.

Historical book reviews have become a staple here at the Bass Fishing Archives. For the most part, we look at out-of-print books that have had significant impact on the sport. Books like Billy Westmorland’s Them Ole Brown Fish, Lunkers Love Nightcrawlers, Lucas on Bass, etc.

Another thing we post a lot here are old ads. Reason being: old ads give one a snapshot back to the day. While we’ve concentrated primarily on the history of competitive bass fishing and the ads that supported that portion of the industry, Bill Sonnett has been writing a column for the Fishing For History website for years covering ads from the dawn of bass fishing.

Well, after 200 such columns Bill decided earlier this year to retire the column – although he still publishes one from to time.

Knowing the value of Bill’s columns, Fishing For History site owner, Todd Larsen, took Bill’s contributions and is in the process of publishing three volumes – the first of which has been out since June.

Having talked with a number of folks who had read the first volume, I had to have a copy of my own. So, a few weeks ago I ordered my copy and read it cover-to-cover as soon as it hit my door.

Bill presents ads from prior to the 20th century to roughly the late 1950s and he’s able to dissect these ads to determine the history of the sport. For example, in a number of instances he’s able to bust myths or answer questions collectors have posed for decades. Want to see the first ads from Heddon, Arbogast or ABU? Want to read about the first Hula Popper? Interested in who invented the worm gear and how Shakespeare got control of it? Well, this and more can be found in Bill’s book.

At 100-plus pages, the book is an easy read and Bill works many of his personal experiences in with a good smattering of humor. More so, if you are a collector or just into the history of the sport, it makes an invaluable reference book. Highly suggested if you’re a bass fishing nerd.

  • Ralph Manns

    re; old, out-of-print books: beside my collection of books about bass fishing, I have several that focused on fish biology. Before I went to school to learn fish biology I referenced: Through the Fishes Eye by Mark Sosin and John Clark (1973). It still offers solid basic sensory info although there have been some subsequent scientific refinements. Lunker by Bob Underwood (1975) provided my intro to scuba diving as a way to learn about bass behavior. My diving confirmed almost everything Underwood observed. Jerry Gibb’s book, Bass Myths Exploded (1978) describes many of the myths about black bass that then existed, but still have lives of their own today. IMHO these three books continue to provide info that only a 20+ year reader of the In-Fisherman Magazine has had access.