The process of buying a new rod isn’t an easy task – especially for the angler who’s new to the sport. But even for the seasoned angler it can be a daunting task. But back in the mid-70s, purchasing a rod wasn’t that difficult. Anglers primarily threw a jig, a crank, a worm, and maybe a topwater bait or spinnerbait. Most bass fishermen had three or four rods with them and that was it.
Rod choice was pretty wide open too. In the casting rod department, you had the choice between a 5 1/2-foot pistol grip and another 5 1/2-foot pistol grip. The spinning rods were even worse with few designed for bass.
Of course you could go into your local Ma-and-Pa tackle shop and get a custom rod made to your liking – and many serious anglers did just that. But what was offered in the racks from manufacturers was bleak.
Then in 1974 Fenwick announced the introduction of graphite – carbon fiber – to the scene. Unfortunately, many anglers couldn’t see spending $150 for one rod when they could buy an entire set for the same money.
By late 1975 we saw not only a decrease in the price of graphite rods, we saw a couple new companies start manufacturing them. Skyline was the second rod company to start using the space-age material and 3M started selling graphite rod blanks. Still, they were far more expensive than glass.
Fenwick also introduced a new concept in bass rods in late 1974 that broke the old short-rod paradigm. They introduced the 7 1/2-foot Flippin’ Stik.
By 1976 the rod market was starting to change – but as the old adage goes, old habits don’t break easy.
Looking through a number of 1976 fishing magazines brought this to my attention. There are three new companies – Skyline, Shakespeare and 3M touting the new graphite material and the old stalwarts Heddon and Browning sitting on their laurels trying to cram the same old story down our throats.
Also in ’76, as if graphite wasn’t enough, a small company in California, Phenix, started making rods out of a boron/graphite composite. They were great rods for the time but again, they didn’t offer anything but a 5 1/2-foot pistol grip and a heinous spinning rod that came with that Fuji club of a handle.
Anyway, I thought you might like this look back in time at some rods from the year 1976. Would any of you fish them today?