It seems as though every fishing show or flea market that I've attended this winter has had its share of people who are going glassy-eyed over old tackle and lures that most of us tossed away decades ago.
I recently watched a budding collector pay $25 for a relatively battered automatic fishing reel.
I have the same Garcia-Mitchell 710 Automatic Fly Reel that I bought new for about $10 in the late 1960s. I've never used it, and, in fact have tried to give it away on occasion.
I doubt if many of us have intended to jump into collecting on purpose. More likely, your experiences are similar to mine -- I happened to nose around my basement corner and found all kinds of irreplaceable treasures worth some real dollars.
Examples of current collectibles would include name-brand bamboo rods and classic reels plus vintage and not-so-vintage lures.
The original Zaraspook plug (then called Zaragrossa) in decent shape will bring as much as $200. I read not long ago that a Haskell Minnow or Heddon wooden frog can demand upwards of $4,000.
I lost a run-of-the-mill River Runt on the Potomac a few years back and when I tried to replace it, discovered it was no longer made and was in demand by collectors.
The important thing about collecting old tackle is that just because something is old does not always make it valuable. Condition, scarcity and authenticity determine price, and condition is most important.
Too much rust or obvious wear, for example, will turn a $200 reel into a $20 reel. But, if only a couple dozen of those reels were made, it could fetch $300 regardless of how encrusted it has become.
Ditto, if you can prove that the reel belonged to a famous person. A pal of mine has met many famous lure makers over the years and has many of the old wooden plugs autographed. Some of those autographed lures are in the relative price and collector class as baseballs signed by Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb.
Fishing tackle, unlike other collectibles like paintings or duck stamps, actually is used, so not as much survives in mint or even good condition.
Usually though, if it was originally a high-priced item, it still will hold its value over a cheaper original version. Exceptions are many -- original Mitchell-Garcia 300 reels and dozens of lures from Creek Chub, Heddon and Arbogast come to mind.
I'd probably advise latching onto those great fiberglass rods that vanished when graphite and other wonder materials appeared in the 1970s.
Three sources that will prove helpful to anyone interested in collecting fishing tackle are catalogs from Classic Rods & Tackle, Box 288, Ashley Falls, Mass. 01222; Rods & Reels, 17 Massasoit Road, Nashua, N.H. 03063; and Heritage Enterprises, 22A Third St., Turners Falls, Mass. 01376.
Sporting Collectibles is a paperback book published by Lyon and Burford and written by Ralf Coykendall that is especially good on current prices. It is carried by most bookstores and sells for $16.95.
Boating safety course set
You can sign up now for a certified boating safety course that begins April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Annapolis High School and continues the evenings of April 8, 13 and 15. Call Anita Murray at (410) 757-4848 for details and registration.
Attend an MSSA meeting
The bay fishing season is just around the corner, and if you'd like to learn more about fishing the local salt water or meet others who share your interest, you should look into one of the local Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen's Association meetings.
The Kent Island Chapter will meet at 7:30 p.m. on April 7 at the American Legion Hall on Route 8.
The Pasadena Chapter will meet at 7:30 p.m. on April 14 at the Maurgale Inn on Nabbs Creek Road, while at the same time the Chesapeake Beach Chapter will meet at the American Legion Hall-Stallings Williams Post.
The Annapolis Chapter will gather at 7:30 p.m. on April 21 at the Liberty Yacht Club in Annapolis.