1979 Northwoods catalog produced by the Fishing Facts magazine crew.

Today in Northwoods Catalog 1979, we’ll step back in time and check out what the folks at Fishing Facts magazine felt was important for the anglers to have.  If you’re familiar with Fishing Facts magazine, you’ll recognize that Northwoods was their tackle and clothing business.  Many of the baits and gear they wrote about could be purchased from them through Northwoods.

So, let’s look at some of what Pazik, Malz, and Petros had to offer in 1979.

First off, the entire front half of the catalog was devoted to clothing.  Although I’m all too familiar with the winters of the north, this was their spring/summer issue, and one would think they’d want to be selling tackle rather than cold-weather gear.  It made me wonder what the fall issue would look like.

But after page 41, things got a lot more interesting.

Pages 42 through 44 featured the electronics of the day.  Lowrance, Humminbird and Fish Hawk, electronics to be exact.  The folks at Northwoods showcased the finders by placing the Lowrance LGR-515 paper graph recorder at the top.  At the time, this was the best paper graph money could buy, at $338.00.  Examples of the resolution and “new” grayline feature that Lowrance had developed were also presented.  Grayline set Lowrance apart from all the competition because of its ability to separate the bottom from everything above it and would also let you know if you were on a hard or soft bottom.  Other paper graphs of the time didn’t offer anything like it.

For those of you familiar with these old finders, you’ll notice the graph paper below the cost of the unit.  Yeah, graph paper was a pain to deal with, especially when it was raining, but it had two distinct advantages.  First, its resolution was over 2,000 pixels per inch.  Today’s units are only good for about 900 pixels per inch.  The second advantage was it allowed the angler to save the paper, and thus the data, for later use at home.  Units today can save data to a memory card, but the angler has to manually tell the unit to save the data.  The other thing I miss about paper graphs is there was nothing like the smell of burning paper in the morning.,

1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 42.
1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 43.
1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 44.

Also available by Lowrance were a couple of their flashers – the gimble mount LE-301, LE 251, along with two portable units, the Green Box (LE-300) and the LE-250.

Northwoods also offered five different models of Humminbirds.  The ever-famous Super Sixty, the Dual Sixty, the Super Thirty and two portable units called “Bird Traps.”  You’ll also notice the manufacturer on the faceplates as being Techsonic Industries, Lake Eufaula, AL, they were no longer Allied Sports.

As stated, the only other company Northwoods was pushing was Fish Hawk.  The portable FH-202 was economical but doesn’t hold a candle to the quality or looks of the Lowrance or ‘Bird.

The price range of the finders went from the Fish Hawk at $89.50 to the Lowrance LGR-515 $337.78.  In today’s money that’s a spread of $367 to $1,387.  For the cheap unit, that’s about par for what you’d expect to pay for a basic unit today.  For the top-of-the-line units, though, I wish they only cost $1,300.

Pages 48-50 showed some of the tackle boxes available during the day.  The drawer-style boxes made by Plano we very popular at the time.  Boxes like the 7777, 737 and 777S.  At the bottom of the page, you’ll see what was to become the future of bass tackle boxes, the Plano Magnum 1146.  Between this box and its little brother, the 1123, these boxes would change the face of tackle storage in less than a decade.

1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 49.
1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 50.

On the next page are some offerings from Rebel and Woodstream.  The Rebel single- and double-sided boxes, although not the quality of the Plano boxes, were just as popular with the anglers of the day.  The problem with them was after sitting in the hot sun, they tended to warp.

No Northwoods catalog would be complete without mentioning Fishing Facts magazine and, of course, Buck Perry.  The magazine is a no brainer and any angler wanting to read about the latest techniques and baits subscribed to Fishing Facts.

The Perry book, Spoonplugging, was the same.  The father of structure fishing published the bible on structure fishing in 1965 and through Bill Binkelman, sold thousands of copies through Fishing News and Fishing Facts magazine over the years.  Perry was as much responsible for the magazine’s success as Binkelman himself.

On page 65 we get into the reels offered by Northwoods.  This display that carried through page 69 really confused me.  Nowhere in the catalog did I see ABU-Garcia or Daiwa – two of the biggest manufacturers of quality reels in the day.  Instead, we have Shakespeare, Zebco-ABU, D.A.M. Quick, and Penn.

The Cardinal series reels, manufactured by ABU and sold by Zebco, were and still are considered some of the best spinning reels made.  The Shakespeare spinning reels, on the other hand, I can’t vouch for.

1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 64.

Then, when we get into the casting reel options, Quick was a D.A.M. good reel construction wise.  Some of the parts, like the main and pinion gears, were interchangeable with ABU-Garcia.  The only problem with them I saw was at this time the free-spool button was placed on the top of the reel.  I’ve written about this in the past and if you’d like to read that article, click here.

1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 66.
1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 68.
1979 Northwoods Catalog Page 69.

Page 82 brings us to the cool stuff – baits.

Whoever designed this catalog had a concept in mind.  Feature the baits based on the type of technique, depth, or fish instead of who manufactured the bait.  It’s a good concept in the head, but let’s look at what it does to the catalog.

Northwoods started off with baits for “Fishing the Junk or Slop.”  They provide an array of baits that included Bill Plummer’s Super Frog, the Whopper Stopper Dirty Bird, the Lindy Clacker, JW Hawg Caller, Strike King Timber King and others.

All these baits were highly successful during the day but what struck me in the catalog was the lack of company names.  For example, Bill Plummer’s name wasn’t mentioned.  Strike King wasn’t mentioned.  Johnson wasn’t mentioned.  You’ll notice this theme prevailed throughout the catalog.  This isn’t an oversight by Northwoods as this was the same concept they used in the Northwoods ads placed in Fishing Facts magazine.  What was the reasoning behind this sort of marketing?

1979 Northwoods Catalog Pages 82 and 83.

Aside from the baits on the page, we’re blessed with some beautiful artwork by none other than Wiley Miller.  Last week Brian posted a short piece on the Smithwick Devil’s Toothpick.  In his piece, which was published the April 1969 Fishing Facts and Secrets newsletter, also had an amazing rendering by Miller.  As in that article, Miller’s artwork can be found throughout this catalog, at the head of each bait page.  I’ll be putting together a gallery of this artwork shortly.

Next in the lineup are the minnow lures.  Rapala, Rebel, and Bagley’s Baits are featured.  Rapala and rebel are mentioned by name but look at the bang-O-Lures.  There is no mention of Jim Bagley or Bagley’s Better Baits.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 84 and 85.

Turning the page brings you to the “Surface and Sub-Surface Excitor Lures.”  This section is stacked with great baits of the day.  Heddon Dying Flutter, Crazy Crawler, River Runt, Meadow Mouse, Tadpolly, and Zara Spook.  Arbogast Jitterbug and Hula Popper.  Strike King Spence Scout.  And the Cotton Cordell Shad-O.  What’s missing?  Of course, none of the manufacturers’ names were mentioned.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 86 and 87.

If you like Bagley’s the next two pages will make you smile.  Billed as “Balsa Wood Crankbaits with Lifelike Action,” these two pages feature not only a collection of Bagley’s shallow and deep-running baits, but also the Rapala Fat Raps.  Look at these prices!  Bagley’s for $3.38 each and Fat Raps for $2.50 and $3.00 each.  Please someone invent a time machine.

What bummed me out about this page was the lack of Bagley’s colors offered.  Only four colors out of the dozen or more colors offered by the company.  At least they were some decent colors.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 88 and 89.

The Fat Raps, on the other hand, had all the original colors.  In fact, the shad color offered, SKU FR5 or FR7-SD, was the original color before they switched to the foil shad color, SKU FR5 or FR7-S.  When this color was discontinued in the early 1980s, we bought all we could from the jobbers selling Rapalas.  To this day if I find them, I buy them.  It was that much better than the foiled shad color.

1979 was the year of the natural finish lures and Northwoods was capitalizing on their growing popularity.  The offered a wide array of manufacturers including Bagley’s Small Fry series, Natural Ike, Rebel, Bomber, and Young’s Shad Lure.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 90 and 91.

These baits were either carved or shaped to have the silhouette of the baitfish they were representing, or they had a natural finish.  It’s a nice look back into that era.

“Swimming Lures That Will Make Them Strike,” shown on pages 92 and 93, is an interesting way to describe the following baits.  The Cordell Big-O, the Bomber, Hellbender, Bomber Long “A”, and Arbogast Mudbug seem to be a mix of different genres of lures.  As you’ll soon see, several of these baits will be shown again.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 92 and 93.

Let’s get into some redundancy.  Page 96 offers the “Bottom Scrapers.”  As on pages 92 and 93, we see the Whopper Stopper Hellbender as well as the Bomber.  Yes, they are the deepest diving baits that each company offered but to list them as bottom scrapers might make some anglers think the baits on pages 92 and 93 won’t scrape the bottom.  To me this way of organizing the catalog is a bit misleading.  These lures were all designed to hit the bottom at different depths.

Let’s get into some redundancy.  Page 96 offers the “Bottom Scrapers.”  As on pages 92 and 93, we see the Whopper Stopper Hellbender as well as the Bomber.  Yes, they are the deepest diving baits that each company offered but to list them as bottom scrapers might make some anglers think the baits on pages 92 and 93 won’t scrape the bottom.  To me this way of organizing the catalog is a bit misleading.  These lures were all designed to hit the bottom at different depths.

Next, pages 98 and 99 featured the section “These Soft Plastic Baits Will Catch Anything.”  The spread starts out with another epic drawing by Wiley Miller of a largemouth about ready to eat a JW Lures Ding-A-Lizard.  Simply beautiful.

On the next page we have the JW Lures Ding-A-Lizard and Ding-A-Ling as well as the Mar-Lynn Reaper.  I never had any experience fishing the Ding-A-Lizard, but the 4-inch Ding-A-Ling was a favorite of mine for doodling in the southern California waters I grew up fishing in.  In fact, it was the Ding-A-Ling that Don Iovino modeled his 4-inch Doodle King worms after.

Pages 100 and 101 continued the soft plastics offered by Northwoods.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Page 96.

Starting at the top of Page 100 is the Knight Tube Worm.  This bait had a solid head down to the egg sack where it then became hollow.  The worm had a lot of followers and continued to be offered by Creme after their purchase of Knight Manufacturing until just recently.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 98 and 99.
Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 100 and 101.

Other baits offered on these pages include the Lundy Tail and a selection of Mister Twister baits.  Of the Mister Twister baits I wish were still made was the 4-inch Slither.  This worm rigged on a small dart head was deadly in the clear waters where I grew up.  Unfortunately, like a lot of baits that find success in a small region, it was discontinued a few years later.

The last section of the catalog I’ll discuss is the Spinnerbait section on pages 116 and 117.  Here you have Blakemore’s Tandem Spinner, Mar-Lynn’s Pomme Special, Cordell Buck Spinners, Bagley’s Weedless Wedge, and Tom Mann’s Tom Cat.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Pages 116 and 117.

Of course, what Northwoods catalog would be complete without offering some of E.L. “Buck” Perry’s baits.  One the back cover of the catalog Northwoods offered four different Spoonplug 5-Packs.  One for dark water, clear water, neutral water, and an all-around pack.  For the price of $10.95, you couldn’t go wrong.  Today these things sell for around $75.00 from this era and cost anywhere from $35 to $50 for current baits off Buck’s website.  Again, someone develop that time machine soon.

Well, that brings us to the end of the Northwoods Catalog from 1979.  As I stated at the start of this article, I’ll be clipping the Wiley Miller artwork and placing it all in a separate gallery for you to see.  The Miller images in this article only represent about half of the total number of images he had in this catalog, so I hope you find the time to go admire his work.

Northwoods Catalog 1979 Back Cover