About a year ago we posted a piece here on the Bass Fishing Archives regarding the “new” graphite rods that were just appearing in tackle store rod racks in the 1974 time frame. In that article we mentioned that Fenwick was the company introducing the new material and that the cost of these new space-age rods would be around the $150 price point. In today’s dinero, that’s roughly $700.
Well, as with most new things, someone else gets on the bandwagon, finds a way to make it for less and then the competition begins. That’s exactly what happened.
By 1976, companies like Skyline, Heddon and even Bass Pro Shops had entered the graphite rod market. Skyline rods were high-end rods and their prices reflected. Heddon, on the other hand, was making rods they claimed were graphite but it may have only been the pencil writing on the tag that provided that graphite. Their rods were strategically priced at roughly 50 percent of what the Fenwick and Skyline rods were going for.
Bass Pro Shops, in what would become typical Johnny Morris fashion, entered the market with a rod that may not have been as good as the Fenwicks or Skylines but it was head-over-heals better than the Heddon, was 96-percent graphite construction and cost less at full retail than the Heddon. I have no idea who was producing the BPS rods – it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to figure out since there weren’t many suppliers of graphite at the time – but they were light, sensitive and good quality for the time.
By the start of 1976 I’d already had two graphite rods (Fenwicks) in my arsenal. But when Bass Pro Shops came out with the Christmas ad shown in this article, I had to drop down the $36 to buy one. I ended up with the 6-foot medium action MB-60G. The rod was definitlety heavier and not as balanced as my Fenwicks but at the same time it was 6-inches longer and had a pistol grip. That rod served me for a number of years even after I started down the dark path of Boron that same year.