Thomas Greene Publications

  A new book by Tom Greene, "A Net Full of Tails"

A Net Full of Tails

            This book was long in the making, and a number of individuals contributed to its content – all of whom are customers and/or friends. First, I’d like to thank those resilient souls who read through these chapters in my inner office, and offered their advice or verified details. There are far too many of you to include your names, but to those who stayed the course, please accept my gratitude.   

            Next in line are my fishing buddies – Scott Hitch, Don Caylor and George Copeland – who spent thousands of hours helping me “figure it out.” They taught me to love the sport, and together we learned some lasting lessons. Speaking of fishing buddies, who could forget Andy Bean? We spent so much time fishing together that it cost me my marriage. Still, we caught plenty of fish.

            Then, I probably wouldn’t have written this book were it not for Bill Kane of Boca Tackle. He gave me my very first job, back in 1959. But it wasn’t until later that my customers and friends, Joe and Barbara Munson, backed me in a store of my own. Joe went on to fish tournaments in the Bahamas ad Keys – many which he won – and he invited me along on a number of occasions.  

            Thanks to my brother, Martin Greene, who worked with me in Deerfield Beach when I first got started – often for starvation wages. He remained with me there for several years, for which I’ll be forever grateful. Then, my brother, Russell played a pivotal role, by convincing my mother that my midnight jaunts were simply the cure for snook fishing fever. I was allowed to stay out later than my sisters who dated – an anomaly that Mother never quite understood. Meanwhile, my little sister Nancy deserves credit for encouraging me to write for the past 25 years Thanks, in fact, to all my siblings – as well as my mother and father - for offering their unwavering support.

            I also wish to thank my employees – both past and present – for helping me build a successful business. It bought me the time to work on these stories.

            My special thanks to Susan Gillis, curator at the Boca Historical Society, whose impeccable research and attention to detail kept this project going when the going got tough. Susan came up with some incredible images.

            Thanks, in addition, to Mike Echols, both in critiquing A Net Full and with my tackle collecting. Were it not for him, Bobby Nicholson and Jimmy Duncan, I’d still be a closet collector. Help, however, comes in many forms.  

            Take my good friend, Mark Sosin, who wrote the foreword and who offered this piece of advice: “Want more fish? Then, see things through their eyes.”  I’ve never questioned those words of wisdom that define my outlook today.

            Speaking of words, it was Steve Kantner who listened to my ramblings for endless hours before translating them into the writing that follows. He remained undaunted throughout the process. If there’s anyone else I’ve unwittingly forgotten, I hope they keep one thing in mind:

            Someone will eventually write on my tombstone:

            “Don’t brag to me today about how good you are; tell me next year what you learned in the interim.”

            That’s the spirit in which I offer these “tails.”


-Tom Greene


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Watch a YouTube movie about the book


Reviews of Net Full of Tails

By Skip Clement, publisher

Tom Greene and Steve Kantner teamed up to give readers a real look at what Florida was like just 50 or so years ago. The  tales in Tom’s book were all lived by him. They’re all powerful; funny, scary, remarkable and the stuff of true grit.

My favorite tale is  “A Man’s Time: Some Bridges are Easier to Cross Than Others.” Can you guess who he guided? Even if you guess right, Tom will never divulge the man’s name. 

Then there’s the “Mullet Miasma” tale; a lesson in listen to what the man with experience tells you. A stubborn man fails to heed a warning and pays a price. 

A really funny tale is Tom’s special arrangement with golf legend Sam Snead. If you don’t think that’s funny - have someone check your pulse.

Tom’s story telling is a magical thing and his memory of details and angling knowledge will keep any fisherperson happily turning pages. There isn’t a dull moment or a chapter you don’t want to read. Frankly, I wish there were more stories. 

Steve Kantner, a talented angler and writer, and former guide is simpatico with Tom’s experiences because he was pretty much doing the same thing 30 miles away. This is a book you need in your library. 


By Bill Nahrstedt

Finished reading A Netfull of Tails the other day. What a great trip down memory lane. It was nice to recall the names of old friends and even made me remember people and events that weren't even in the book. I used to fish the club bridge area alot and can still remember the really loud Snook pops that would go off under the bridge as well as the sound of schools of jacks crashing baitfish along the pre-seawall shores. I caught my first Snook there. Do you remember the
old club bridge bridge tender, Perry Snyder and his daughter Missy? There used to be a couple old guys that plug casted there every morning; Adolph, an old German guy that used to cast Zarra Spooks on a large Luxor and a Mr. Rodgers that had two Orvis outfits, one with a Mirrolure
and one with a jig. 

Anyway, mission accomplished with your great book.  Everyday since finishing it I have dredged up memories of Old Boca and tackle shop days.

Thank you for that.     Your "old" friend Bill


By Carol Bareuther

Some may call it luck, others fate, but when Tom Greene started work as a fourth-grader and 11-year-old sweeping the floor and dipping bait shrimp at Boca Tackle in Boca Raton, Florida, on June 6, 1959, his world changed forever. His passion for sports fishing became both his vocation and his recreation. It’s true to this day. Whether he’s on a collector’s hunt for antique tackle, reeling in blue marlin in any number of the world’s billfish hotspots or simply at home in Florida manning his shop or fishing for one of his fondest catches – snook – Greene is as passionate today about fishing as he was over fifty years ago when he first started.

A native of South Carolina, Greene’s family – which included his mother, father and seven siblings – moved to Boca Raton, Florida, when he was 10 years old. With only a little money and lots of mouths to feed, Greene’s father bought a fishing rod for $4.95 at the local Piggly Wiggly. The whole family shared the rod, along with several cheap cane poles, in order to put food on the table. When his father became blind and his mother took sick, Greene found himself in the role of family caretaker and breadwinner. He caught fish after school for dinner and earned money by working in the tackle shop as well as guiding for some of the early rich and famous Boca crowd. His uncanny guiding abilities caught the notice of fishermen far and wide. He also showed up on the IRS’s radar screen. In fact, Greene may be one of the few 15-year-olds to be audited by the IRS because he was head of a household with five dependents at the time.

Greene didn’t just do menial jobs when he first entered the industry after Bill Kane gave him his first job at Boca Tackle. His work in the fishing world took on a more meaningful direction when he started building and designing his own custom rods. You could say he was a tackle expert by the time he was a teenager. That’s one reason why a rep from the Palm Beach Country’s Education Program tapped him to teach a course. He taught basic skills like bait-rigging, knot-tying and how to wrap leaders as well as more advanced subjects like how to throw a cast net. Greene still loves to teach and does it everyday.

“I always say ‘tell me how smart you are this year and how dumb you are next’,” says Greene. “Fishermen need to stay open-minded. You can’t get stuck in your ways if you want to catch fish.” Greene was in his early 20s when he borrowed money from customers Joe and Barbara Munson and opened his own tackle shop.

“Joe had a 54’ Striker, the Salt Shaker, at the time and he’d invite me along to fish,” says Greene. “Of course, I outfitted his and all the boats at the time with rods, reels, tackle and bait. Since I had the tackle store to run and couldn’t be gone 6 or 7 days at a time, I’d make it only 3 or 4 by jumping on his private plane, flying over to the Bahamas, fishing the tournaments, and be back on Monday morning. Joe fished all the Bahamas Billfish Championships. We won it in 1983. We won several other tournaments too both in the Bahamas and the Keys.”

It was in the 1980’s that Greene got involved with Fred McLane and Caruth Byrd, two producers who were filming a new TV show called Fishing Fever. He, and father and son captains, Art and Andy Bellisari, did 25 shows with them in Florida and the Bahamas. The storyline followed famous stars and what they caught. James Conn, James Haggerty, Robin Conrad, Lynda Day George and Slim Pickings were a few of the star anglers Greene got to meet.

Through the years Greene has enjoyed some incredible fishing experiences.

“I fished out of San Salvador in the Bahamas in the early days, where we caught 10 wahoo all over 100 pounds in one day,” Greene recalls. “I was also one of the first Americans to fish in Venezuela in the 1970s with Capt. Barkey Garnsey, where I caught sailfish and white marlin on 4-pound test. I’ve fished with Capt. Peter B. Wright too out of Australia on the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve also fished aboard the Northern Lights out of Hawaii. I outfitted their whole boat.”

Greene got an invite to fish the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (Boy Scout Tournament) in St. Thomas in 2008 aboard St. Maarten-based Nicholas Perini’s 73’ Donzi, Somoya, after outfitting it with $100,000 worth of handbuilt rods, reels and tackle.

“I was one of three anglers,” Greene tells. “There was one purple and black lure that I built and wherever I put it we got fish. It was crazy on the first day. Thirty minutes after lines in, I put that lure in and got a 500- to 600-pounder, then another one about the same size and finally a third about 200- to 300-pounds. I was in the chair for 8 ½ hours that day. We were just off Anegada because that was where the fish were biting that year, backing down in 6 to 10 foot seas because a storm was coming. We had 14 bites on that lure.”

Greene, who has an incredible knowledge of fishing tackle and techniques, has built lures that have hooked-up 1000-pound plus blue marlin in Bermuda. In addition, in a three year period on three different boats, his custom rods have won anglers the White Marlin Open, in Ocean City, Maryland, and $3 million in prize money.

Today, he owns Custom Rod and Reel, in Lighthouse Point, Florida, where he also owns most likely the largest collection of antique fishing reels. Reels that date back to the 1850s and were built by gunsmiths and watch makers. He also continues to innovate. One of Greene’s latest inventions is the ‘Reel Crankie’ line winding tool. It’s a device that’s especially handy for deep-drop swordfishing. It attaches directly to the existing reel handle mechanism and isn’t used to fight the fish, but to retrieve the bait and drop-weight so as not to have to manually re-wind the line back on the reel from a deep depth.

One can only imagine how many fishing tales Greene has accumulated through the years. Late last year, with the help of editor, Steve Kantner, a book’s worth of Greene’s tales was published. The 15 stories in Net Full of Tails are a delightful chronicle of Boca Raton during the days when fishing was hip and of a young boy and man’s unbounded enthusiasm for the outside world and all manners of fish that swim in it. While the book is dedicated to his son, named Marlin, there aren’t any marlin stories. I’m sure Greene will get to those in volume two, but in the meantime snook, tarpon and bass fishermen will surely delight in and relate to these ‘tails’.


Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the book you wrote, write another one!

Your fishing stories kept me glued to the pages, guess I love fishing, and I loved the pictures, I have to try this snook fishing thing, never have, looks like a great fight on light tackle, my favorite kind of fishing !


Dear Mr. Greene
My name is Tyler Holley and I live in Scituate, Massachusetts. I'm 13 years old and I own the site The Review Guru. My website was developed so I could review books and movies in which I find the subject matter interesting.
My grandfather, Dan Drotar of Boca Raton, Fl., sent me your book, A Net Full of Tails that you were so kind to autograph, thank you. I took out the chapters that I found is most exciting, starting with The Longest Night, A tarpon that large would be something you would surely remember.
Mouth of The Rat, Mister Jim Smith sure was a brave man to do what he did with his boat, ramming the sand bar like that incredible.
I’m a Boy Scout in Troop 28 and I found the chapter at the spillway to be very helpful. We do white water rafting outings with our dads and your description was and will be very helpful when the staff at the facility give us the pre-rafting safety talk.
I can’t even think about getting hit by lighting, how in the world did you and Mr. Caylor live?
My mom said it was the grace of God that saved you guys; I can only say “Thank God you lived to write this book."
Thank you for sending the book, and feel free to send me your next one.
Tyler Holley
The Review Guru


eBooks are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The ebook can be purchased through Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (Nook) for use with either their devices (Kindle and Nook, respectively) or through their free apps which can be used on other devices.   

Main Page: A Net Full of Tails

Tom Greene Biography

Book: Photo Gallery

Sample Chapter: 'The Longest Night'

Phone and email: Purchase Orders

YouTube movie: Video Book review

Tom Greene Publications, Lighthouse Point, FL, copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved


Tom Green's Fishing Tackle Website:

Tom Green's Fishing Tackle Store: Custom Rod & Reel