Another Great Idea on Paper

A 1987 ad from Bassmaster magazine for the MONITOR ROD from Shakespeare.

A 1987 ad from Bassmaster magazine for the MONITOR ROD from Shakespeare.

This one falls into that category of something that seems great when you first hear of it, but the more you think about it, the less practical it becomes. What if I told you that I was producing a fishing rod that had a built-in temperature gauge. Sounds cool, but apparently it must not have caught on.

The company was Shakespeare, the year was 1987, and the line of rods was called MONITOR RODS. From the ad;

“But, we didn’t stop there. We placed a temperature probe in the tip-top and an LCD digital display in the rear grip. Simply turn the switch on, submerge the rod tip, and read the display. The MONITOR ROD tells you instantly whether or not you’re in productive water, with accurate readings to 1/10 of a degree.”

The rods featured 98% graphite blanks, cork grips, graphite filled reel seats, and aluminum oxide guides. I’d have to believe that the first time you forgot you had that fancy digital readout in the butt of your rod, you’d set that thing down on concrete or in dirt and totally ruin it. Plus there was no mention of battery life, what happens when the batteries do die, can the unit be accidently bumped “ON” due to handling and shuffling, and is this whole thing waterproof? What happens the minute the dial face fogs up…and like many things we’ve seen, who wants to stop fishing to take water temperatures at every spot they fish?

Anyway, I chalk this one up to a great idea on paper, but probably not so in real life. So now who wants to fess up and admit to owning one of these rods?

  • Harold Sharp

    I remember many years ago someone came to BASS with a temp gauge that was suppose to be the latest thing used to catch Bass. We took it out for a demo and the first good looking point we found they took it out, hooked it up, dropped a probe in the water and after about 6 to 8 minutes said, this is not a good location.
    I replied, I could have determined that with two cast of a spinner bait in much less time and trouble and that was the last we heard about the temp gauge.

  • And…, the truth behind that idea, I invented it for Zebco’s use as a consultant. I had prepared a selection of 12 or so ideas for new products they might consider making. These included the Bullet reel series, a trolling motor with a 4 to 1 steering ratio for the transom, the name Synergy (instead of Energy) and some others. An internal spy or “Mole” sent these to Shakespeare which quickly beat Zebco to market. The saddest loss was the trolling motor. Shakespeare butchered the introduction, it did poorly and Zebco dropped the idea. Corporate espionage is alive and well. JBB

  • Ralph Manns

    Agree — too many associated problems. In addition to your list, It takes time to warm or cool a sensor to water temperature. Hasty readings would always be closer to the air temperature. Also, my use of both cheap and highly sensitive and well-calibrated instruments clearly showed the cheap sensors sold to anglers to be less accurate.

    Regarding probe usage. Even the cheap instruments will tell and angler a more specific depth of the thermocline, and if there are more than one. They will also find springs and identify over- and under-flowing rainwater or streams. Anglers willing to test periodically actually can gain useful information. But it takes several readings in different areas of the lake to get useful info. Most anglers aren’t willing to use up the angling time. But then, most anglers aren’t willing to drive around a lake and look for fish until they find an aggregation with modern sonars. They would rather cast than catch apparently.

    Thanks to Joe for his unique insight.

  • Bob Kanet

    I have Monitor rod. Recently the battery cap broke. When I contacted Shakespeare to ask about replacing they have no record of this rod in current data.
    If someone knows how I can replace the cap and what battery I need. Please advise.
    The rod has really good action.