Saturday, February 2, 2008

Al Foss and his Bull Frog Fish Lines

Almost 90 years ago, Al Foss became associated with the R. J. Hillinger & Company brand of the Bull Frog Silk Casting lines.

R. J. Hillinger & Company advertised its fishing lines as early as 1910 in various sporting magazines and even included its ads in tournament casting programs such as the one shown below which appeared in 1915.

The Marshall Field & Co. sporting goods catalog listing below shows the variety of sizes and colors that were available for the Bull Frog Casting Lines in 1923.

The January 1922 issue of the Sporting Goods Dealer magazine carried a full page ad for the R. J. Hillinger Bull Frog Silk Fish lines which prominently featured an endorsement by Al Foss extolling the virtues of the Bull Frog lines.

Al Foss stated, "We used Bull Frog lines exclusively when we took the motion pictures of bass fishing in Florida, and those who have seen the pictures can see that fish were handled most roughly at times, yet the lines withstood all this abuse. Fish of several pounds weight were lifted into the boats by line alone, using no net in the operation."

The advertisement also featured a logo of the R. J. Hillinger Bull Frog and included copy that stated that Al Foss "Always uses ... Bull Frog Silk Fish Lines"
On November 6, 1920, two years before this endorsement ad above had been published, the Chronicle-Telegram Newspaper of Elyria, Ohio reported that Al Foss had made an appearance the evening before at the Lorraine County Fish and Game Club to show this Florida fishing film and to talk about the best way to catch bass and about what tackle to use. I believe this was the same film that Al was referring to in his R. J. Hillinger endorsement ad that was published two years later.

From my research I believe that Al Foss appeared in the movie Florida Black Bass Fishing, in which he had used the R. J. Hillinger's Bull Frog Silk Fish Lines "exclusively", sometime during the year 1920. The advertisement below which was published two years later in 1922 announced a scheduled showing of Al's movie at a Cleveland hardware dealer's store, and I believe that this was that same movie.
We know from the articles that Al Foss made public appearances at least twice over a two year period to show his film, and to talk about the equipment he used. It is likely that there were other such appearances during the span of those two years. I think that it is also reasonable to assume that he would have likely promoted the Bull Frog Lines that he had used on his Florida fishing trip each time that he made one of those public appearances to show his film. I am currently investigating the possibility that Al Foss' involvement with the R. J. Hillinger & Company may have included a much greater financial interest in the Company than just his connection through his product endorsements and public promotions of their fishing lines. If anyone has any additional ads, newspaper articles, or other historical information that might shed light on the extent of Al Foss' direct involvement with the R. J. Hillinger Company's Bull Frog Silk Fish Lines, then please email me at Thanks, John Etchieson

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