dad first bought his back in 1972, Brian bought his a few years later
at the age of 14. Brian Engel and his dad bought them up in Canada.
Harry England sold them out of his garage in Garden City, Michigan.
Harry's cousin invented the thing but went bankrupt. Harry took over
and sold 'em for more than twenty years. So, just what is this 'it'
we're talking about?
A Snagaway. What's a Snagaway,
you ask? Good question. A Snagaway is an ingenious little gadget that
belongs in the tackle box of any self-respecting fisherman with good
sense to come in out of the rain. A Snagaway is an oval nickel-plated
steel device about two inches long with another smaller oval piece
hinged inside. Here's how it's used.
You're relaxing in your boat
out on the lake, it's a beautiful day when suddenly your idyllic afternoon
is shattered; your favorite $8.00 fishing lure is snagged on a log
or root or some other obstacle way down in the murky deep. Calmly,
as any good fisherman would, you reach into your tackle box removing
your Snagaway and thread it onto your line. Then you send it down.
The Snagaway glides straight down to your prize lure, clamps onto
it like a vice and all you have to do is haul it up. People have told
Brian stories of pulling up everything from logs to a five-pound anchor.
Brian had saved so many lures
by the time he got to college he had paid for his Snagaway twenty
or thirty times over. He was fond of his Snagaway and began to correspond
with Harry out Michigan way. When Brian graduated Harry offered to
sell Brian the business. Brian considered but decided to go on to
graduate school. Two years passed and Harry offered again, Brian seriously
considered, but declined, not sure if that's what he wanted to do.
Back when Brian
was a teenager he enrolled in the 4H Junior Shooting Sports Program
taught here in Columbia County by Peter Burke. It was there Brian
met Laurel. Laurel's father was an avid hunter and fisherman and always
took along Laurel and her sister. Brian and Laurel fell in love and
time when their families went up north on a fishing trip, Laurel got
her lure snagged. She tugged and tugged but couldn't tug it free.
She pulled out her trusty Snagaway and sent it into action. "I couldn't
believe it, it didn't work," she tells me. It was the first time that
had ever happened so she tried again. This time it moved. What Laurel
reeled in was not a snagged lure, but a 43", 22lb Northern Pike. "No
wonder it didn't work," she grins.
Brian just couldn't shake the
notion of buying the Snagaway business. "I didn't want to be 80 and
wish I'd done it," he affirms. So, finally in 1996 Brian called Harry,
proposed a deal and Harry agreed to sell. Brian said he'd drive out
in a few days to finalize the deal. Harry said, "Fine," and asked
for Brian's name and number. Brian reminded Harry that he had that
information and Harry replied, "I know, I just want to write it down
here," so Brian complied. A few days later, as Brian and Laurel packed
for the drive to Michigan, the phone rang. It was a member of Harry's
family saying that Harry had died and the only thing stuck on Harry's
refrigerator was a piece of paper; on it Brian's name and number.
They were curious why it was there and called. Brian explained the
business agreement he and Harry had worked out. The family graciously
upheld Harry and Brian's agreement. Some things are just meant to
"Trust me, Brian,
you'll never be sorry." Those were the last words Harry said to Brian.
I look at Brian and Laurel as they recount this story, the amazed
look of having touched something special fills their eyes. I feel
I'm living a moment of true wonder in a Frank Capra movie.
is a real family business for Brian and Laurel. Their new daughter,
Lydia is too young, but her sister Anna even helps pack up orders.
They are a great team, learning all they can about marketing and distribution
they even have a web site: www.snagaway.com.
Brian and Laurel are the sort
of people who inspired me to create this column. They are the resilient
and blessed thread woven into and holding together the fabric of this
great country; hard work, dreams and devotion to family their great
and unique strengths. The holidays are about family and dreams and
the hope of tomorrow. Brian and Laurel have a solid grasp on that
in their quiet, fulfilling lives. Let their smiling faces be my Christmas
card to you.
We'll talk next time, From The
to Road Archive