Mick from Pickles Fishing & Outdoors tackle store in Eden shares his top 10 tackle treasures.
There have been some great fishing innovations in my lifetime. Braided line, soft plastics, graphite rods and silicon carbide guides have all made their mark. There have also been a few flops. Anyone used an interline rod — where the line passes through the shaft — lately? How is your closed face reel going? They corrode faster than an underwater Duracell. As a tribute to my old-but-gold fishing tackle, I’ve cooked up a list of my top 10 favourites. If you find any in your pop’s tackle box, trade for them with a few Melbourne longnecks. You can sell them for a tidy earn. Even better, use them — because they bloody well work!
1. PENN REELS
Like a Sherman tank, these made-in-the-US reels were built to last. I still see them used and abused on charter vessels, but they keep hauling up the snapper. The American-made versions were built with quality components and not dissimilar metals, so rust was never a major issue. These models can withstand a swim in the surf or a handful of sand, and they’re easy to fix. Second-hand models fetch a good price. Proof that simple is still best.
2. ALVEY SIDE CAST REEL
One of the simplest reels ever made, this classic was the backbone of surf fishing, beach fishing and chasing blackfish from the rocks. Featuring a centrepin and no anti-reverse, the angler is the drag system. Original models were made of timber, then later Bakelite. They’re still available today, but made of plastic, naturally. There is a downside — line twist was a bit of an issue, and still is. If you can find an old timber model, remove the catgut line and put her back into action. Or put it on eBay and earn some handsome beer money.
3. BLUEWATER LIVIES
They sat on the shelves of tackle stores gathering dust for more than 10 years. That’s until word got out that a few crack crews had been braining the YFT off the NSW south coast. They’re not much more than a weighted head with a glued-on rubber body, and used to retail for about $30. But these days, originals can fetch as much as $200. Naturally, a canny captain got wind of the trend and started reproducing them en masse.
4. RUBLEX FLOPPY
Before soft plastics there was the Rublex Floppy. Looking essentially like a hard-bodied stump-jumper, it has a soft rubber skin. They were a popular lure in the US and saw action in freshwater fishing and dams in Australia. You’re likely to find a few tangled up in Grandpa’s old Plano tackle box, usually with the trebles rusted together. Untangle ’em, because they’re worth up to $100 each on eBay.
5. ABU GARCIA AMBASSADEUR 7000
Made in Sweden, these overhead reels were — and still are — popular among old-school snapper and surf fishos. In experienced hands, they’ll outcast an eggbeater and also have the capacity to hold more line. The Swedes, also rust-haters, used quality metals that sit close together on the periodic table. They’re now made in China so probably won’t make it to this list in another 10 years.
6. MOLDCRAFT BOBBY BROWN
Moldcraft were among the first manufacturers to produce soft heads in bulk. In between pumping out lures, they also made dildos – and still do. Some of the classics, like the Bobby Brown, are still run in the spread as teasers, their soft, but durable texture never failing to excite Mr Stickface. Moldcraft is the rubber shaft for all occasions. (Note: The Captain acknowledges that the overall tone of this feature just plunged to bilge level.)
7. HANDBOOK OF AUSTRALIAN FISHES
Before the interweb, this is where most fishos learned the difference between black and yellowfin bream. Most of the photos are black-and-white, featuring blokes in tight Stubbies shorts and Terry Towelling hats smoking Marlboros while holding up a giant fish. The Handbook of Australian Fishes inspired some members of The Captain’s crew to seek new species — and maybe smoke the occasional durrie — in the late ’80s.
8. SHIMANO BAITRUNNER
This perennial favourite in the Shimano range hasn’t changed much — because it works. It’s especially popular with snapper and live-bait fishos who want the fish to run — hence the name, der. There wouldn’t be a snapper fisherman down south that doesn’t own one or two, largely thanks to Rex Hunt and his promotional exploits in Western Port and Port Phillip Bay.
9. RAPALA COUNTDOWN
The CountDown lure hasn’t changed much since Pops trolled it around the dirty water chasing redfin. It’s still readily available and popular with bream and bass fishos. Simple, tough and effective.
10. EVEROL REELS
Everol began building game-fishing reels more than 60 years ago to hunt bluefin in the Mediterranean. The Italian company conceived a simple yet brilliant design that remains largely the same in today’s models. For the history buffs, “black scales” were produced from the 1960s until 1972; followed by the “red scales” of the 1970s.
Honourable mention to Snyder glass rods, Rapala Braid Concept rods, Seamartin surf reels and Mustad 76LGS hooks (no longer available).
Dishonourable mention to the interline rod and reel combination.