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 Post subject: The Lyon & Coulson Co.
PostPosted: 11/10/19 10:54 • # 1 
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Hello,

Does anyone know the history of the Lyon & Coulson company as it relates to fly fishing equipment? I know they offered a lot of outdoor leather goods - fly/cast wallets, rod cases, rifle cases, etc. Some that seem very similar to products offered from British companies of the time. I also have a neat Lyon & Coulson "DeWitt" style celluloid fly box and I know they sold Heddon built bamboo rods for a time under their own name. After some limited research I discovered they manufactured rucksacks for the U.S. Army (1942/mod. 88B) during WWII.

When did the Lyon & Coulson company begin selling outdoor gear? Fly fishing gear? When did they close?

Was it a brick and mortar retail store or only catalog sales? How did it compare to some other stores of the time - LL Bean, Orvis, Ambercrombie & Fitch, even Hardy Bros.?

Thanks.

-Rich


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PostPosted: 11/10/19 11:14 • # 2 
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They were a brick and mortar store. I recently tried to find a history that I had ran across in the past, but did not keep (my foggy recollection is that the piece was an obituary for the store manager (not part of the family). They even had a Shakespeare reel private labeled. I've only seen one - posted here in 2007/8 by someone who only posted 3 times. I'd like to have that reel. I grew up between Buffalo and Rochester. They were definitely around in the late 30's.

Here is my small contribution.
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Last edited by NewUtahCaneAngler on 11/11/19 09:13, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 11/10/19 11:34 • # 3 
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According to Michael Sinclair's Heddon book, Lyon & Coulson changed their name from Lyon & Company in 1935. They were still selling bamboo rods after the war, but I don't know how long the company survived. Beside the Shakespeare trade reel mentioned above, they also sold a "Varden" fly reel (made by J.W. Young & Sons), seen below.
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PostPosted: 11/10/19 12:32 • # 4 
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And here is the leather case for your reel Mark


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PostPosted: 11/10/19 12:47 • # 5 
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In A.J. Campbell's great book, "Classic & Antique Fly Fishing Tackle: A Guide for Collectors and Anglers," A.J. discusses Lyon and Coulson. He says they were, "...a Buffalo-based outfit,"...and..."Throughout the era of the 1920s to '40s Lyon & Coulson conducted one of the largest mail-order and retail tackle businesses of the day." Many of us are familiar with the Heddon made bamboo fly rods private labeled for Lyon and Coulson. A.J. also mentions that Heddon did the same for one of Lyon and Coulson's largest competitors, the Folsom Arms Company (H & D Folsom Arms Company from NY).

I had a Lyon and Coulson "Regent" model flyrod (Heddon made) and clearly like the Heddon Model 35. This rod was in the much sought-after 8.5' and 1 and 3/4 F. configuration. I foolishly sold this rod - kicking myself ever since. It was after this that I decided never to sell anything again - let my heirs figure things out, but I am not selling anything. I have always regretted it later. It was a damn sweet fly rod - wish I still had it.

Ed Pirie
West Topsham, Vermont


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PostPosted: 11/10/19 13:15 • # 6 
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A Lyon & Coulson "Imperial" grade spin rod. Made by Heddon. Unused.


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PostPosted: 11/10/19 14:11 • # 7 
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I have a L & C catalog from 1941. L & C offered a complete range of fishing (mostly fly) fishing gear with rods made by Heddon. Three reels were offered, the Varden shown earlier which I was told was made by Young, and a lesser quality one made by Martin, and one made by Russell, I think. I think their quality was higher than L. L. Bean and similar to Weber. This is based on a comparison of several catalogs I have from from each vendor.


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PostPosted: 11/10/19 14:49 • # 8 
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I worked with a Mr. Bill Lyon many years ago in Western New York. He was an engineer and one day, sometime about 1980-83, he told me his family had owned, or co-owned, the L&C company. The company had been long closed before this and while he was into hiking, he did no fishing himself. Since he was of a generation after those running of the business he had little knowledge of the fishing rods. He did said that many of the company records were stored in one of the family member's basement. He passed from cancer maybe a decade later.

So it is possible if a researcher was interested there could be ledgers and other information still stuck in a basement in the Buffalo, NY area.

I don't have a PhD, but I do have a DD214.


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PostPosted: 11/10/19 15:29 • # 9 
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Over the years I also have owned two shorter L&C fly rods made by Heddon, but I no longer have them. That said I do have one of their high quality leather fly rod cases I picked up years ago at a local gun show for $15. The seller thought it was "a pool cue case"...nope! ;)
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Scott

Flyman615

"An undisturbed river is as perfect as we will ever know, every refractive slide of cold water a glimpse of eternity" - Thomas McGuane


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PostPosted: 11/11/19 20:58 • # 10 
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Thanks for all the info and photos. I find their leather goods, or at least all I've seen appear to be of very high quality. Its funny we don't see more kit from this retail store given its high quality and over 20 years in the tackle business.

Since I collect fly boxes/wallets I'd be very interested in seeing what boxes and wallets they offered over the years. Anyone have catalog scans of their offerings?

-Rich


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PostPosted: 11/15/19 11:24 • # 11 
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I forgot about this small part of L&C history

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PostPosted: 11/26/19 09:13 • # 12 
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So I recently was high bidder on a 1941 Lyon & Coulson Manufacturers of Fine Hunting and Fishing Equipment catalog and can add some additional insight. L&C were located at 1280 Main St., Buffalo, NY. They appear to have focused their sales to distributors and dealers as the catalog mentions their ability to provide free advertising material and other collateral. In fact, my catalog came in an envelope addressed to Minnelusa Tackle Co. in Omaha, Neb. They also offered custom rods, leaders, and flies. This catalog also came with a 1942 supplement, which introduced the new Chief Fly Rods in 8', 8 1/2', and 9' at $11 and Wiscoy Fly Rod in same lengths at $8.25, this while the DeLuxe sold for $50, the Major for $35, the Regent for $27.50, the Imperial for $22.50, the Crown for $16.50, and the Captain for $13.50. All of the later rods were available in 7 1/2' - 9 1/2' in 1/2' increments and in Trout or Bass Action. The 4 highest grades were also available in a lighter Special Trout Action in all lengths.

There are a few leather fly wallets and what appear to be Dewitt style case (also available with pigskin or cowhide covers), but no Wheatley products. Most of the cases/fly wallets were discontinued in 1942 (perhaps due to war time rationing?).

They sold flies under the L&C Brand, Buffalo Brand, and Olympic Brand. The majority of the catalog is dedicated to flies, nymphs, streamers, leaders with a few pages for rods, 3 reels, and a few dedicated to clothing, cases, and duffle bags.


Last edited by NewUtahCaneAngler on 02/29/20 08:55, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 02/14/20 19:57 • # 13 
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I recently picked up this L&C Leather wet fly book. The leather was likely much lighter in color before a PO lathered it up with mink oil or some other conditioner. The leather is soft, but a bit dark for my personal taste.
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Please add any other L&C items that you may have.

Cheers,
Joe


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PostPosted: 02/14/20 21:02 • # 14 
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1937,38,40,41 catalogs
Leather fly box
7’6” 2/2 L&C Captain #0400, 13 ferrule, 3.7 oz
8’ 2/2 L&C Regent #0101, 14 ferrule, 4.2 oz

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PostPosted: 02/29/20 08:29 • # 15 
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Here is something I dug up from my boxes of vintage flies. Two small boxes of Lyon & Coulson flies - Cahill Quill and Quill Gordon, both size 12. The boxes are really neat.

I also included my L&C cast wallet. I use it to hold all the handmade leaders I tie. Fits nicely in the vest.

-Rich
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PostPosted: 05/11/20 15:49 • # 16 
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Does anyone know aboutvthis L&C fly line: “Luxoil”. Oil processed... is it silk? The holder doesn’t say:

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PostPosted: 05/11/20 16:22 • # 17 
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[quote="drbaits"]Does anyone know aboutvthis L&C fly line: “Luxoil”. Oil processed... is it silk? The holder doesn’t say:


Yes, it was their most expensive fly line in 1941. Other lines were $8.
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PostPosted: 05/11/20 17:48 • # 18 
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Wow, thanks much! I have been restoring several lines and this one is tacky on the roll. Perhaps since they worked so hard to oil it up, i’ll try a round of polishing to see where that takes me before stripping it.

John


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PostPosted: 05/12/20 17:51 • # 19 
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$9 in 1941 is a pretty penny, or several of them.


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PostPosted: 05/12/20 18:45 • # 20 
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Flykuni3 wrote:
$9 in 1941 is a pretty penny, or several of them.


What I find interesting in looking at these line prices is that as the weight went up, so did the price (cost-based pricing. More raw material in a higher weight line) and the DT lines are much more expensive (was this cost-based on time and complexity to make; or market-driven (higher demand for a better casting line?)). The DT lines were certainly dear as you could purchase a rod from L&C for about 1/2 again as much as the line.


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