The year was 1977 and anyone in the fishing industry was looking to take advantage of the fast-growing population of bass anglers wanting to improve their ability to catch fish. As we’ve covered a number of times here at the Bass Fishing Archives, lure companies got in the business of making boats, boat companies got in the business of making rods and reel companies got in the business of making depthfinders. Seems logical when you think about it quickly but when you really ponder the thought, it seems ridiculous.
So far there’s really only been one company that capitalized and was successful on a crossover venture and that was Tom Mann and his crazy invention of the Humminbird depthfinder. Lord knows Lowrance had the market share at the time and why Mann would think he could build a better less-expensive mouse trap is beyond me. But the proof is in the pudding –Humminbird is one of two successful freshwater electronics manufacturers today and pretty much all other have gone by the wayside – except for those who still fish with Vexilar through the ice.
So it should come as no shock when we look at what rod and reel (and rubber frog) manufacturer Garcia was touting in the mid-70s. Of course it’s not a new model ABU reel or Conolon rod, it was a flasher (not the kind represented in Ray Stevens’ 1974 Top Hit “The Streak”) and a circular paper graph.
Again, I’m not trying to put a company down for expanding their horizons but if you’re not the actual company making the product, why do you think the company that is (more than likely Vexilar in this case) would make yours as good or better than theirs?
That was the problem back in those days. Many major fishing industry companies were having their “new equipment” made by companies that were already in that industry. For example, Humminbird, Lowrance and Vexilar were making units for nearly every fishing-related company out there. Garcia would pay for them to design and build a new housing, put their name on it and then they’d buy them and sell them as their own. Problem with this, as stated before, is the actual company that made them wasn’t about to make their customer/competitor’s units anywhere near the quality of their own.
No longer do we see Heddon, Garcia, Pflueger, Shakespeare, Flip Tail or any other company selling depthfinders. It’s only the BIG Two and those crazy folks from Minnesota.
Anyway, for your listening pleasure, here’s a blast from the past.