A look at the 10 best fishing products of the last 75 years

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Sunday, August 02

Last year, the American Sportfishing Association, the voice for the sportfishing industry, celebrated its 75th anniversary. Recently, they partnered with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation to survey thousands of this country's most avid anglers to find out which products they feel have been the most instrumental in shaping the sport over the past seven and a half decades.

Sorted by the date of introduction, these are the top 10 fishing products which span six categories: accessories, electronics, lines, lures, reels and rods:

n Original Rapala Floater Minnow (1936). This hard body lure is one of the most successful and widely used lures in fishing history. It is still the "go to" lure of many of today's bass and trout anglers.

n Nibble, Nabber Springloaded Bobber (1947). This red and white bobber replaced the cork as an indicator of a strike. In those days many anglers fished with live bait and the bobber made suspending them at a desired depth simpler and easier.

n Mitchell 3000 (1949). This was the first commercially successful spinning reel and is one of the most common reels used today. Costing $18.95 in the 1950's, that was a good sum of money and out of reach for many of us. But it was the best spinning reel on the market. My first one was purchases overseas through a serviceman's rod and gun club and was shipped home, awaiting my discharge. It was a tough workhorse of a reel and millions of casts were made with it. The only thing that ever went wrong with it was the bail spring, and fortunately, Dick Moon's Sporting Goods Store in Pittsfield had the capability of making and replacing them.

n Crème Plastic Worm (1949). It changed the sport forever as the first, and still famous, long lasting artificial worm that both looked and felt real. (It changed my tackle box forever, too because it interacted with the plastic tackle box and actually melted into and ruined it).

n Zero Bomb Company Closed Face Spincast Reel (1949). Costing only $3 or $4, it made fishing easy and affordable to everyone, regardless of age, gender or expertise. I had a lot of entanglements with mine which contributed greatly to my vocabulary of profanity. It finally ended up on the bottom of one of our lakes, (accidentally dropped overboard of course). They have greatly improved since then and are currently manufactured by ZEBCO Brands.

n Lowrance Fish Lo-k-Tor (1957). The Little Green Box introduced anglers to the use of sonar in locating individual fish.

n DuPont Stren Monofilament Line (1958). Improved the durability, affordability and casting ability of fishing line while reducing its visibility to fish.

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n Minn Kota Trolling Motor (1958). This was the first electric gear-driven trolling motor that gave anglers the ability to quietly maneuver and position their boats. Originally manufactured by Minn Kota, it is now manufactured by Johnson Outdoors.

n Fenwick High Modulus Graphite Rod (1972). Its super-sensitive carbon (graphite) fibers revolutionized the method of making fishing rods and how anglers fished. I never owned a Fenwick graphite but I owned and still fish with their excellent fiberglass rods.

n The Shakespeare Ugly Stick (1976). With its special construction, it created an affordable, unbreakable and dynamic fishing rod still in use today. I like this rod so much that I own two of them in different sizes.

I'll bet some of you gray haired anglers owned and enjoyed many of these products and wonder if you, like me, still have them and dig them out of the closet or cellar from time to time. It is fun dusting them off and thinking back to the good old days, cherishing memories of lunker fish that were (or weren't) landed, where we were fishing at the time and with whom.

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The Lake Garfield Association will be sponsoring a fishing derby for children 12 and under next Saturday (Aug. 8) at the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery Lower Pond on Hatchery Road in Mill River. The derby, which is free and open to the public, runs from 9-11 a.m.

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Zebra mussels: It is encouraging to see the Lakes and Ponds Assn (LAPA), the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) and representatives from the bass fishing clubs meeting and attempting to establish a dialog on how to address the zebra mussel issue. Obviously, there is some common ground, that being that they all want to see the mussels contained and not spread to neighboring waters. They also agree that ramp monitoring is a good idea and issue a call to the fishing community to volunteer as monitors. They agree to work together to help increase the public's awareness to the perils of the mussels.

Other than Laurel Lake, many sportsmen do not agree on the closing of boat ramps. LAPA would like to see them all temporarily closed (45 days) to help curtail the mussel spread while experts figure out a course of action. Most fishermen that I know disagree. Their position is that Laurel Lake is the only local lake confirmed as having the mussels. If people are cleaning their boats and there are ramp monitors inspecting them, then why exclude the general public from using the other public waters. Besides, the ramp barriers have no effect on those who use canoes and kayaks anyways for they can just be carried anywhere and launched, which is currently happening in a lot of places.

To reach Gene Chague:berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com,
(413) 637-1818.


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