A week ago, I posted a story on Ray Scott’s Out House mail order catalog. In that piece I gave a little history of how I remembered seeing the ads in Bassmaster Magazine and posted the first 37 pages of the catalog. This week I have the rest of the catalog for you to peruse. At some point I will put the entire catalog into a photo gallery but that will have to wait until I find the right blog theme that has that as an option.
In the meantime, there was a lot of nostalgia in this catalog. Bits of tackle, boating equipment, and fishing accessories I’d completely forgotten about. I’m going to go through some of the offerings that I found worthy of note and then you can enjoy the rest of the catalog below.
So, let’s move on to the catalog starting at page 39.
Page 39 has no fanfare and, like most of the middle of the catalog, is printed in black/white and blue. But what this page does offer is a good look at the Okie-Aerator, developed by none other than the first B.A.S.S. Life Member, Don Butler. When Ray went to catch-and-release in the 1974 timeframe, aerated livewells became a must and Butler’s aeration system was the solution. I’m not sure if he sold the idea to the boat companies or let them use it royalty free. Obviously, he sold kits to make a livewell out of a cooler or anything else that would hold water. A simple idea, probably taken from the aquarium industry, that changed bass fishing forever. Thank you, Don Butler, for your ingenuity.
The next page that jumped out at me was page 42. Again, not due to anything extravagant but something very mundane. If you look at the middle right of the page, you’ll see the B.A.S.S. Rain Poncho. Lord knows I’ve owned probably close to 50 sets of ponchos like this over my life and they’ve all dissolved in the rain. But what got me about the offering was the man in the suit. It is B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Emeritus Harold Sharp. As you may well know, Harold was a valuable confidant and contributor to the Bass Fishing Archives in the early days and he means the world to us here. What I can’t get over is his resemblance to Marty Feldman in this awful photo. Harold, I know you’re looking down upon me reading this and I mean no disrespect, but you must agree with me, right?
In a future piece, I’m going to introduce one of the east’s best friends to the early structure fisherman – Alexandria Drafting Company. In the early 70s, Alexandria Drafting Company published a series of Bass Structure Fishing maps for several lakes and reservoirs in the North Carolina / Virginia area. I hate to call them maps because they were much more than that. Each book had a multi-page topographic map, but the book also had tips for fishing the lake, written by local experts as well as tips on fishing from the likes of Roland Martin and Tom Mann.
Being originally from the west, I never knew about these maps until I came east in 2013. and wouldn’t you know it, on page 57 of this 1977 issue of the Out House, there’s an ad for the maps. Pretty cool in my eyes.
For those of you old enough to remember Tru-Turn hooks, here’s something that may shock you. On page 58, there’s a slot for Eagle Claw worm hooks. They have their standard sproat style 295 XBL and offset 295 JBL, priced at $1.20 to $2.00 per 100 hooks (now they have Trokars where one hook costs more than three boxes of these!!). But those aren’t the hooks I want you to pay attention to. The important hooks on this page are the Messler’s Rotating Hook. We sold these at the shop I worked at as a kid and when Tru-Turn came out, we showed the jobber these and said, “what’s new about your hook?” Priced per hundred pack, the hooks sold for $1.39 to $2.45. This is what chaps my behind most about the fishing industry today. The cost of hooks. We pay nearly a $1.00 per hook in most cases, more in others, for a piece of wire that has been bent by a machine, barbed by a machine and sharpened by a machine. If you look at inflation between 1974 and today, the cost of one hook in this example would be $0.02 in 1974 compared to $0.11 today. Yet we pay 10-times that amount for a single hook. What is the cost in hooks? Can someone tell me or is this some sort of need-to-know special access program I’m not read on to? Seriously folks, hooks should not cost as much as they do.
The next product I found that sparked some memories was spread out over a couple pages, 62 and 63. This product was high-speed gear kits for the ABU and Daiwa Millionaire reels. Why would you need a gear kit, someone might ask? Well, before the early 70s, the only gear ratio that came in most reels was 3.8:1. Anglers realized that there were a lot of instances where faster was not just better but would also result in less lost fish. By 1977, several companies made aftermarket gear kits. Two of these kits were offered in the Out House. One was an ABU factory gear kit, page 63, that would convert your 4000, 5000 or 6000 reels to a 4.7:1 gear ratio. The second was Lebercko Inc.’s Buzz Gears, which would convert your reel to a blistering 5.0:1 ratio.
The second product on page 62 that caught my eye was another reel upgrade. When we posted Part One of this piece, long-time supporter of the Bass Fishing Archives, Andy Williamson, brought up this exact item. What was it? Well, it was the B.A.S.S. Custom Reel Handle. What you must understand about the time is most ABU reels either came with a small double handle or a small counter-balanced handle. Neither of which were very comfortable to fish. Between Gator Grip and Ray Scott, you had two choices to trick out your reel.
Pages 64 through 69 have some great items for sale but I wish those pages were printed in color to showcase the old baits in all their glory. Who wants to see black and white images of Rapala Fat Raps, Arbogast Jitterbugs, Hellbenders, Storm DDTs, or Big Os? I guess it all comes down to cost.
Page 70 is where the fun starts. It’s all in color and kicks off with a huge 6-page spread of Tom Mann’s Bait Company. Jelly worms, Jelly Wagglers, Sting Ray Grubs, Jelly Wigglers, Led Heads, Tom Cat Super Spins, Pigs, and Little Georges. I can smell the Jelly Worms as I type this paragraph.
The rest of the catalog is self-explanatory, so I’ll leave it for you to peruse. Have fun stepping back to a time when things weren’t as complicated and bait companies made some cool products.