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…]

More Reel Gear(s)

Greg Enterprises Gear Kit and Power Handle circa 1975.

Greg Enterprises Gear Kit and Power Handle circa 1975.

Having grown up in a tackle shop in the 70s and 80s I’ve always felt pretty confident that I know a bit about tackle from the time. But it seems every time I open up a magazine from that time period, I get schooled again. Case in point – Greg Enterprises of Fayetteville, AR.

As we’ve discussed before, back in the early- to mid-‘70s there were a ton ABU/Garcia 5000s around. Problem was people were realizing that they needed more speed from their reels and the 3.8:1 ratio the 5000 provided didn’t cut the mustard. Around the 1973/4 timeframe, the infamous Lew Childre came out with the Speed Kit to bump your 5000s gear ratio up to 5:1. Then Buzz Gears came out shortly thereafter and did the same job, although not as well. [Read more…]

Sometimes You Don’t Have It…..

Lew Childre showing the convenience of his new Telescopic Speed Stick - circa 1975.

Lew Childre showing the convenience of his new Telescopic Speed Stick – circa 1975.

Here at the Bass Fishing Archives we’ve put a lot of people on pedestals – and one of those is Lew Childre. As you know, Childre pretty much redesigned the silhouette of the casting reel, played the main role in bringing a new guide concept to the U.S. and had his hands in anything else related to bass fishing equipment – including rod development.

Some of his rod designs and concepts were off the charts.  For example, the graphite Speed Stick became one of the best selling rods in the U.S. in the 70s through the 80s. His butt ferrule and pistol grip system was brilliant and his new guide frame designs, like the 3-footed frame all guides are fashioned after today, brought the sport into new dimensions. His equipment was light, functional and it delivered high performance to the angler. [Read more…]

Lew Childre – More Forward Thinking

1975 Lew's Speed Guide Ad.

1975 Lew’s Speed Guide Ad.

We’ve talked about Lew Childre and the effect he had on bass fishing – fishing in general really – here on the Bass Fishing Archives many times before. The first piece we posted back in the first weeks of this venture was on his development of Speed Gears. Then in April, 2012 we posted a piece on his revolutionary reel, the Speed Spool. Finally in May, 2012 we posted a piece on his “Speed Merchant” custom rods that never made it but still made an impression on the industry.

Lew Childre left a lasting impression on the industry and we have him to thank nearly 40 years after he first came on the scene. Which brings us to today’s subject, the ceramic guide. [Read more…]

The Bantam 100

In 1978 Shimano Corp introduced the Bantam 100 casting reel - much to the chagrin of Lew Childre.

In 1978 Shimano Corp introduced the Bantam 100 casting reel – much to the chagrin of Lew Childre.

For the last 30-plus years you can’t talk about reels without the mention of Shimano. Shimano reels are known as some of the best designed and manufactured reels in the world. But back in the mid-70s, all they were really known for was bicycle gear and the fact their name was pressed into the side of the ever-famous Lew’s BB1 Speed Spool. Their entry into the fishing industry would change not only the face of angling but also the face of another reel company, Lew Childre and Sons.

In the early 70s tackle designer Lew Childre had already made his mark on the industry by developing a number of concepts and tools for the angler. He played a part in the development and marketing of ceramic guides and also changed the design of the heavy, not-so-sensitive pistol grip casting handle. [Read more…]

Lew Childre – It’s All About Speed

Lew’s Speed Merchant ad. Note the company name, Lew Childre & Sanders – not Lew Childre & Sons. 1973 Bassmaster Magazine Fishing Annual.

I was reading through the 1973 Bass Master Fishing Annual and came across an article that piqued my interest about Lew Childre. Of course he’s primarily known for the Speed Spool but he also developed a line of rods, known as the Speed Stick, that was very popular in the 70s and 80s.

This article, though, was about a product I’d never seen in full – the Speed Stick concept. Evidently Lew’s mind never stopped working. He was dissatisfied with the way rods were built and the fact that custom rods took a long time to make. He also felt there had to be something better with respect to rod guides than the heavy carboloy, agate and stainless guides that were put on rods of the day. [Read more…]