The Magnum Tacklebox

Plano Magnum tackle box ad featuring Bill Dance

Plano Magnum tackle box ad featuring Bill Dance

There is an interesting progression of development and popularity between bass anglers and their tackle management systems. Nowadays, soft packs and individual accessory boxes seem to dominate the boats of anglers everywhere. If you go way back in time, toward our early tournament beginnings, we were still using the old drawer boxes, or “suitcases” as some of them were affectionately known as. In between these two eras though saw the development of a hybrid system, known most frequently by the name that Plano assigned to the box, the Magnum. Fenwick also manufactured a similar box around that time. [Read more…]

Fenwick – The Gold Standard of Rods

Early Fenwick HMG Graphite rod ad.

Early Fenwick HMG Graphite rod ad.

I would hate to venture how many rod companies are out there today – it seems every small town across America has at least one. I’m not knocking this surge in rod companies by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s actually opened up a lot of different rod building concepts and, which in turn have had a big impact on the way rods are made today.

Back in the 60s and 70s, though, that wasn’t the case. At that time you had Browning who made the Silaflex, the Garcia Conolon line of rods, Heddon (who would actually make custom rods to order, and a couple other players. Factory rods were just that, factory rods and not too impressive. Many of these companies offered their blanks to the numerous custom shops that dotted the United States and the serious angler generally went that rout instead of purchasing some off the shelf. [Read more…]

Graphite Rods: An Industry Perspective – 1978

Testing a graphite rod circa 1978.

Testing a graphite rod circa 1978.

Over the last few years, we’ve done a few articles on the history of graphite rods – mostly based on Fenwick, the first company to utilize the material in production fishing rods. Fenwick first introduced their rods at the AFTMA show in 1973 and by early 1974 they were being marketed to anglers. In that first year rod costs were high, about $150 per rod, but worse yet, breakage was higher.

It was obvious the new space-age material was a winner, the problem was figuring out how to lay the material on a mandrel so its properties could be best exploited without breakage. [Read more…]

Fenwick – The LUNKERSTIK

The first Fenwick LUNKERSTIK ad from 1972.

The first Fenwick LUNKERSTIK ad from 1972.

We’ve talked about Fenwick here a number of times but most of those discussions have either been about their development of the graphite rod or Flippin’ Stik – both concepts worthy of talking about. What we’ve failed to mention, though, is arguably the most popular rod of the timeframe from 1972 through easily 1976 – the Fenwick LUNKERSTIK.

Debuted in 1972, I would hate to try and guess the number of LUNKERSTIKS that were produced and sold. At a cost of $40, they were an expensive choice but the best money could buy. Today, though, if you frequent the online auctions, you’ll find they range anywhere from $200 to over $600 depending on year made and model. I wish I would have kept mine. [Read more…]

Rods – The Old-School Way

1985 Fenwick Rod Builder's Blank and Components Catalog. Many anglers learned how to custom wrap a rod from this small catalog.

1985 Fenwick Rod Builder’s Blank and Components Catalog. Many anglers learned how to custom wrap a rod from this small catalog.

Back in the 70s and even the 80s, if you wanted a rod for a certain technique, you were essentially at the mercy of the rod companies and what they made at the factory. Back then, especially in the 70s, all rod companies offered was 5 1/2-foot casting rods with pistol grips. Spinning rods were a little better in that you could find rods in the 6-foot category but often times they didn’t have the backbone for bass fishing.

If you were a serious angler, though, you either had your local tackle shop custom make you a rod or you built one yourself.

Many anglers back then learned to build rods with one of two booklets – the “Fenwick Rod Builder’s Blank and Components Catalog” or the “How To Wrap a Rod with Gudebrod” booklet. I learned to wrap rods from both of these booklets when I was 10 years old and the skill has helped me and my fishing ever since. [Read more…]

How They Started – Gary Klein

Gary Klein in 1976 when he qualified for the Western Bass Tournament of Champions. Photo Fall 1976  issue of Western Bass Magazine.

Gary Klein in 1976 when he qualified for the Western Bass Tournament of Champions. Photo Fall 1976 issue of Western Bass Magazine.

The sport of competitive bass fishing has developed a list of greats since its genesis in 1967. That list includes anglers such as Bill Dance, Rick Clunn, Roland Martin, Bobby Murray, and others – a list too long to mention here. All these anglers have many things in common. They’ve all won numerous events, AOY awards and qualified for multiple Classics. But there are only two anglers today that can claim to have qualified for and fished 30 Bassmaster Classics. Those two anglers are Rick Clunn (32 Classics) and the second is the subject of this piece, Gary Klein – who after the 2013 season had qualified for his 30th Bassmaster Classic. [Read more…]

New Western Technique – Controlled Structure Fishing – Sure to Sweep the Country.

Dee Thomas and Frank Hauck after winning the Western Bass Association's Lake Nacimiento event in May 1974

Dee Thomas and Frank Hauck after winning the Western Bass Association’s Lake Nacimiento event in May 1974

May 19, 1974

Paso Robles, CA – A new technique, coined “Controlled Structure Fishing,” has been introduced and it’s been met with mixed reviews. The technique’s given the duo of Dee Thomas and Frank Hauck a trip to the winners circle in five out of the last seven events. Why has it been met with mixed reviews? Some may say it’s jealousy, others say it’s a banned form of tule dippin’. Whatever you say it is, it’s been mighty successful for Thomas and Hauck, and even though they had to adjust their equipment for the latest Western Bass Fishing Association’s event on Lake Nacimiento, they were able to pull off another win even after chopping 4-1/2 feet off their preferred Lew’s Hawger rods and flipping their boat halfway through the first day of the event.

[Read more…]

1978: Graphite – That’s so 1974

Phenix Rod ad from circa 1979 featuring 42 different rods models and the infamous trucker hat.

Phenix Rod ad from circa 1979 featuring 42 different rods models and the infamous trucker hat.

In 1974 Fenwick introduced the fishing industry to graphite as a material to replace fiberglass in rod construction. The difference was remarkable in more ways than one. First it was significantly lighter than glass but even more important, it was much higher in modulus thus creating a much faster rod. The other attribute that made graphite superior was its sensitivity. The old saying was “you could feel a fish breathe on your worm from a foot away.”

But before graphite finally took hold of the rod market around 1977 there was another material being touted as the new wonder material. That was boron. [Read more…]

Graphite’s too Expensive?

Christmas 1976 Bass Pro Shops ad for the Graphite 96 rod.

Christmas 1976 Bass Pro Shops ad for the Graphite 96 rod.

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. [Read more…]

The Writers – George Kramer

George KramerEditor’s Note: This series is dedicated to those people who penned the many articles we read in order to learn more about our sport and become better anglers. Sure it was the anglers who developed the techniques, lures and equipment we use today but it was the writers’ job to make sure these bits of information got to the masses. Without the writers to communicate this, the world of bass fishing would be very different today.

For those of you outside the West, the name George Kramer may not ring a bell. For those in the West, though, the name resonates – longtime writer, longtime supporter, longtime critic. He’s the guy that came up with the California Top 40 – a ranking system that gives credit to the West’s best bass anglers each year. [Read more…]

It’s 1976 – What Rod do I Buy?

Heddon rod ad circa 1976.

Heddon rod ad circa 1976.

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. [Read more…]

Ads from the Past – Heavy Cover Specialist

Shimano Brush Buster ad.

As Terry Battisti has documented here, here, here and here, by the late 1970s the flipping technique was firmly established in the pros’ repertoires and in the bass public’s consciousness. Fenwick was one of the tackle companies that jumped on the flipping train early in its route, but others were slow to pick up the pace. Sure, some manufacturers rushed items to market that fit the parameters of the technique – namely 7’6” broomstick rods – but not all of them were truly suited to the task.

By the mid-1980s, Shimano made an effort to capitalize on the technique’s increasing acceptance and popularity. The Japanese reel manufacturer introduced the Bantam Brush Buster baitcasting reel, which noted on its hood that it was “Designed Exclusively for Flipping.” [Read more…]