Heddon Wilder Dilg Bob Davis Fly Lure
We’ve come to know the Heddon Wilder Dilg Bob Davis Fly Lure as Yellow Head Yellow Hackle fly. But, do we know who Bob Davis the American Editor and photographer is? Why is this a face on the cover of the intro Heddon Fly rod antique lure box. Robert Hobart Davis was born in 1869-1942 to George and Silvia Davis in Brownsville Nebraska. Robert was influenced early by his parents who served as missionaries to the American Indian tribes.
Robert got his first taste of the editing industry by following in the footsteps of his older brother Sam to publish and distribute the Carson City Daily Appeal. Robert not content with his destiny would set out to bigger and larger things first to San Francisco to become a typesetter for the San Francisco Examiner.
He would then double back across country to New York. Becoming an editor for the New York Journal and the fiction editor at Munseys Magazine. Munseys isn’t a name we hear often in the antique lure collecting circle so let me expound. Munseys is credited to being the first mass market magazine. In 1891 it sold as many as 40000 copies a week and by time 1891 rolled around it was up to a half a million a month. Bob was there from 1904 to 1925 and it is this time period his zest and zeal for writing and Photography would meet up with his passion to fish.
With friends and pen pals and fishing companions like Zane Grey, who’s larger than life stories of Big Game fishing of the coasts of Catalina or Florida captivated America. Names such as Bill Bran, Art Brown, and Will Dilg would also make up the nucleus of another of Davis’s fishing circles. Bob Davis was a guest writer for many of the early sporting magazines such as Outdoor Recreation, Field and Stream, the American Angler. Bob was a member of the Anglers Club of New York. A tongue and Cheek biography of him in the 1912 Field and Stream called him one of the greatest authorities on black bass the champion of the wooden worm and the plaster of Paris minnow.
Bob introduces his career here in a 1918 American Angler in somewhat of a jesting and boastful way.
Robert H Davis – His Career
I, Robert H Davis, who write these lines, consider myself an angler by divine right of inheritance.
My Grandfather on the materal side, William Nichols, was the first man was the first man on the Connecticut coast to fish for pleasure only. No guest aboard his boat could sell his catch in the market. Grand pap wouldn’t let em.
My uncle, Ruggles Nichols, insisted upon his guests fishing with rod and reel only. Drop liners, netters, and harpooners got the gate.
Chronologically, I now beg to introduce myself, the first angle to write a technical article on the subject of the art and practice of casting artificial floating baits with a short rod from a free running reel, withholding nothing that the angling world was entitled to know.
In my explorations in angling regions I have located and disclosed to my brother fisherman, several incomparable bass lakes. I have taken all kinds of fresh water fish that abound in North American waters including grayling in the Madison river, every known species of the trout family, and Pacific Coast salmon running to fifty pounds each at the headwaters of Boulder Creek in California.
I fish for pleasure only, I will lend my tackle to anyone who wannts to borrow it. I will tel you where I caught the last fish, give you a copy of the fly or the plug and take you there with me any time you want to go.
Salt water fishing does not appeal to me. Lake and river fishing does. The small mouth red eye and black bass in my opinion, is the gamest fish pound for pound, that swims in the deep.
Bob Davis would become a piece of the Combination of BF Wilder and W H Dilg tossed into the great Marketing Machine we call Heddon. When in truth though, the Bob Davis Fly Lure with Colors of Yellow on Yellow was being made by other companies a half a dozen or so years prior to that partnership. Makers Such as McCarthy Bass the originator of the Callmac Fly (No it wasn’t South Bend), CC Refner, with the Bass Bugs and BF Wilder with the feather minnows (later to become the Wilder-Dilg) had already been making lures using those color patterns. I cant seem t put my finger on it but I read somewhere, or maybe I dreamed it, that Will Dilg actually set out to standardize some of the classic colors and that is where the names and patterns were assigned almost 10 years prior.
Robert H Davis aka Bob, would go on to live a fruitful life. He would leave his job at Munsey’s for a writer and columnist at the New Your Journal. He would continue to be a contributor to the fishing and writing world until he passed in 1942. So while we as lure collectors see Bob Davis as as a yellow head yellow hackle he was much much more of contribution.
I enjoyed doing the research on this and will continue this until we complete the set of twelve Heddon Wilder Dilg Fly Rod Lures.