Those We Honor

You’ll find more than just fishing celebrities in this list. One can make a significant impact
on the lives of many without ever being well known. It is important to honor all of
those who had a great influence on the great sport of fishing, whether famous or not.
Corporate advances tend to be much more visible to us. For it’s their products that
shape the evolution of the sport of fishing.

Nick Adams

Nick Adams

Inducted 2001

Talk tackle manufacturing in Brainerd, MN and the conversation doesn’t go far without mention of Nick Adams. The patriarch of Lindy/Little Joe, who enters the Hall of Fame as a manufacturer, was instrumental in the development of the tackle item that put Brainerd on the North American fishing map: the Lindy Rig. As with most inventions it was part skill, part luck. Adams’ role, in fact, came purely by chance.

He was pursuing a degree in pathology in 1968 when his brother, who owned the Starlight Club in Brainerd, became ill and couldn’t work. Adams took over management of the club for the next five years. Two of the regulars at the time were the Lindner brothers. The younger, as Adam recalls, “had just gotten out of the service, was footloose and fancy free, driving an old ’36 Chevrolet.”

That would be Al. The older already had a family and presumably was less loose of foot and free of fancy. That would be Ron. Both loved fishing, as Adams did, and that was the first topic of conversation when the three got together at the Starlight. “We were playing cards in the backroom after hours one night,” Adams recalls, “when Ron said I should stop over at his house the next day. I did and he showed me the Lindy Rig, which was nothing new except that it had a walking sinker instead of the egg sinkers everybody else was using.

He said, ‘We’ve got the idea, can you come up with the money?’ I said it was possible. We determined that $50,000 would get us in business but none of us had the money. Ron had four or five kids at the time and Al had just gotten out of the service. So I borrowed it from my family. The kicker was that the Lindners had to solicit $250,000 worth of orders, which they did. We formed the corporation in the latter part of ’68 and started working in the back end of Lake and River Bait.”

From Minnesota the new walleye rig spread into Wisconsin and then around the nation with help from Mille Lacs Manufacturing and Marine Sporting Goods, two companies that helped with distribution. “What made it successful,” Adams says, “is that the customer could walk into any retail outlet and pick up a package that had all the components. It was one-stop shopping. The average consumer doesn’t want to tie his own stuff. But he’d heard about the rig and that made him want to buy it.”

The company grew so fast it didn’t have the working capital to keep up with orders, and in ’93 it was sold to Ray-O-Vac. Adams said they sold the company because they felt vulnerable. What, he said, would have prevented a larger company such as Normark from producing the rig more cheaply and shooting the new company out of the water? “We used to talk about that quite often — how long can the Lindy Rig last? We had other products, but that was the backbone and it wasn’t tough to duplicate. We had a high margin and (the sale) was made out of fear more than anything else.”

The Lindners moved on to other ventures. Adams remained with Lindy/Little Joe. He recently was instrumental in a product that has given the company a big boost in sales — the No-Snagg sinker. Adams conceived the design and Ron Lindner finalized it. Recent additions to the No-Snagg family includes the Timb’r Rock Jig, a weedless design. Soon to come will be the Vegi Jig, another weedless design. Thirty-plus years in the tackle business has given Adams a perspective shared by few others. His list of the five greatest tackle inventions of all time are the Rapala floating minnow, Mepps spinner, Twister Tail (forerunner of Berkley Powerbaits), Lindy Rig and No-Snagg sinker. “The industry has been fairly flat lately when it comes to new concepts,” Adams says, “But somebody will come up with something new and hot again. It’ll happen. And I hope we’re the company that thinks of it.”