By BOB T. EPSTEIN
Vista Outdoors Writer
Since Ponce De Leon first stepped ashore on a tiny section of Florida’s 8,400 miles of shoreline in 1513, fishing has been, and continues to be, a top draw for visitors and residents of this state.
But, I bet you didn’t know that there are more freshwater species of fish living in Tennessee waters than any other state in America.
A great addition to the fun things Glade residents can do while on the road, or at home, or anyone who likes to antique shop within a 200-mile radius of their homes, is getting into a “seek and find” hobby like antique collecting.
With this in mind, check out the following: In the past 75 years, a popular hobby has evolved that has many devotee’s of the 60- million people who fish here in TN., and all over the country.
That interest is collecting anything that pertains to fishing tackles past. This can include rods, reels, lures, books and a thousand other types of early angling gear.
Even art, and tackle-shop merchandizing, point-of-purchase props are a highly sought after bounty.
Here’s why finding gold in them “thar” old tackle boxes in the form of nostalgia, or just old fashioned dollars is so popular:. Some old reels, rods, lures are worth big bucks.
At an auction in Maine I attended not long ago, an 1810 handmade reel (see photo) made by George Snyder from Paris Kentucky fetched $20,300.
Even a 1859 Haskell minnow lure, brought a whopping $22,000 (see inset photo).
However, most collectibles can be purchased in the $25 or even less, to $150 range. But besides the money, tackle collecting can put people in touch with their youth as well.
Owning one or more pieces of fishing tackle that may have been in the hands of grandpa, 60 or more years ago, or perhaps of the vintage of Zane Grey or Ernest Hemingway, helps us re-capture a piece of those times. As we visualize the glory days of somehow being better, more relaxed and thought of in sort of a pastel haze of memory and memorial to that by-gone era.
Tackle collecting is also an education in the history of the sport and angling as a pastime. You can learn how clock makers got into the reel making trade by crafting prized custom reels for themselves, family and friends.
How these reels were seen and talked about, and how the demand for them began to grow.
Even before the turn of the last century, people were switching from a sun toSun-down agrarian farming existence, to an industrial and more urban lifestyle.
These were folks who now worked for an hourly wage and had a bit more time to enjoy recreational pursuits. Near the top of the list of vacation pastimes was, and still is fishing. Fishing is one of the few sports an entire family no matter the age or physical condition can share in.
The following are some hints for successful trading, selling and buying old and collectable fishing memorabilia: Define what you want to collect.
Some like Clyde Harbin of South Carolina collected only old Heddon lures. Harbin amassed more than 30,000 of these various model lures.
Some collectors want only books and catalogues. Others like reels, rods, creels, bait traps, art, early fish spears-everything.
However, don’t pass up anything you may come across at the flea market, auction or yard sale.
What you may not wish to collect, can be traded to someone else who has an interest in what you have, for what you collect.
Arm yourself with knowledge. Read and read some more about tackle collecting. Also, you can always make an offer, no prices on antiques are totally hard and fast.
Tackle collecting is a hobby, so be brave, there is nothing the matter with a bit of bargaining; most collectors and sellers expect and enjoy the bargaining. You can’t win them all, but always play fair. “
Do unto others” should never be left out of any of your dealings. Join a collectors club and subscribe to tackle collectors newsletters and magazines.
Write the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club at P.O.Box 1791, Dearborn Michigan 48121 for membership information.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing is another fine location to learn much about collecting tackle from. Write P.O.Box 42, Manchester Vermont 05254. And by all means use your “Google function.
You’ll be amazed at how much is out there for you to use and learn about in your new tackle collecting hobby!