- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Alexandria-based American Sportfishing Association, an industry trade group of fishing tackle corporations and such, recently compiled the 10 most influential fishing products of the past 75 years.

No one should know this better than the ASA’s member companies; they are, after all, the people who keep records of sales of the things they hope will convince us to pull out our wallets. The Anglers’ Legacy Innovations Awards were unveiled at a recent trade show.

No. 1 is the Original Floater Minnow by Rapala (1936). To this day, it is one of the most popular and widely copied hard lures in fishing history. Rapala brands are still popular.

No. 2 is the spring-loaded bobber, originally made by a company known as Nibble Nabber. It began in 1947, when it invented a float that made suspending a baited hook at a desired depth much easier.

Who couldn’t guess No. 3? It’s the famous Mitchell 300 spinning reel that debuted in 1949. It was the first commercially successful open-face spinning reel and continues to be one of the most common reels used. The current manufacturer is Pure Fishing.

No. 4 is - what else? - the plastic worm. The Creme plastic worm of 1949, to be exact. It forever changed the sport of bass fishing. Although now manufactured by dozens of companies, Creme Lure Company is still around and still makes a fine product.

No. 5 is made by the Zero Hour Bomb Company. It is the closed-face spincast reel of 1949. Although I don’t care for this type of reel, it is affordable and easy to use, even by children. ZEBCO still makes a variety of models.

The sixth most influential product is the “Little Green Box” - the Lowrance Fish Lo-K-Tor that debuted in 1957. I had one, and so did most of you, I’ll wager. It introduced anglers to sonar, locating individual fish. The current company is known as Lowrance/Navico. It has a large line of electronics for anglers.

No. 7 is monofilament fishing line. It hit the market in 1958 and improved the durability and casting ability of fishing line while reducing its visibility to fish. Invented by DuPont under the name Stren, it now is made by Pure Fishing.

No. 8 is the Minn Kota Trolling Motor, which also came along in 1958. It was the first electric, gear-driven trolling motor. It allowed anglers to quietly maneuver and position their boats. The current manufacturer is Johnson Outdoors.

The ninth product to be honored is the Fenwick High Modulus Graphite Rod of 1972. With its super sensitive carbon (graphite) fibers, the rod revolutionized the manufacturing of fishing rods and the way we all fished. Pure Fishing continues to produce them.

Finally, No. 10 is the Shakespeare Ugly Stick that was introduced in 1976. With its special construction, it quickly became known as the best affordable, unbreakable fishing rod. It’s still around, too.

-Southern Maryland’s 220-acre-plus St. Mary’s Lake, off Route 5 south of Leonardtown, is back in business but only for hikers and bicyclists for now. Repairs to the dam are finished, allowing for foot and bike traffic in the area. However, fishing from small boats is on hold until water levels rise sufficiently. It will not get under way until spring.

- The Future Fisherman Foundation is accepting grant applications for its 2009-10 Physh Ed program, which offers public, private and charter school teachers the chance to apply for $2,500 grants. They are intended to support fishing and/or boating activities in physical education programs. Applications must be submitted to [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Jan. 19.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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