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…]

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; [Read more…]

High-Speed – It’s all Relative

1973 ABU/Garcia ad for the ABU 5000. This was arguably the most popular reel ever made by any reel company. Note the small double handle. By the mid-70s, most anglers took this handle off and replaced it with a Gator Grip or BPS double handle.

1973 ABU/Garcia ad for the ABU 5000. This was arguably the most popular reel ever made by any reel company. Note the small double handle. By the mid-70s, most anglers took this handle off and replaced it with a Gator Grip or BPS double handle.

We’ve previously covered the Swedish reel manufacturer ABU with respect to their Cardinal series of reels marketed by Zebco in the late 60s through 80s. We’ve aso talked about their ever-famous 5000 series reels here a bit. But these ads I recently ran across really tell a lot about where we’ve come from and what anglers dealt with early in this bassin’ game.

The year is 1973 and nearly every hard-core bass angler is using the reels ABU made. Yeah, there were a few using reels made by Shakespeare and Pflueger (Lew Childre wouldn’t debut his BB1 Speed Spool for another couple years) but the vast majority were using the 5000 series of reels produced by ABU and marketed by Garcia. [Read more…]

Ads from the Past — Prehistoric Braid

1977 Gudebrod ad suggests that braid is the solution for those not wanting to buy a $100 graphite rod.

1977 Gudebrod ad suggests that braid is the solution for those not wanting to buy a $100 graphite rod.

As we’ve detailed here before on BFA, the rise of braided line in the modern era tournament bass fishing was jump-started by the 1993 Bassmaster Texas Invitational on Sam Rayburn, when veteran pro Randy Dearman utilized Spectra Lynch Line to claim his first B.A.S.S. victory.

Of course, Dacron braided lines had been quite popular throughout the first half of the 20th century, but that started to shift in the late 1930s when DuPont invented nylon, which they shortly thereafter used to make monofilament fishing lines. When they introduced Stren a couple of decades later, it seemed to forecast the end of braids. [Read more…]

New Products 1976

New Products from the Fall 1976 Western Bass Magazine

Reading the Fall 1976 issue of Western Bass Magazine I came across the “New Products” section and found some interesting stuff – historically speaking. First off, look at the left page, upper center. You see one of the first glimpses of the Original Scrounger – the bait that Aaron Martens brought back to life a few years ago. These things were awesome when it came to fishing the saltwater back bays and they even worked for bass. The only problem with them back then, and it was a big problem, was the hooks really stunk. Heavy-wire cadmium-plated hooks that were short-shanked and narrow gaped. Not the best quality in a bass hook. [Read more…]

Trolling Motors of the Past – Part One

23 pounds of thrust to get you from here to there….eventually.

As you cruise around the lake this weekend under 101 pounds of electrically-generated thrust, pity the poor anglers living in the early 1980s who had to tool around on no more than 30 pounds. Actually, don’t pity them too much – they probably thought their 23 pounds of thrust (from a single battery!) was the cat’s meow.

Does anyone even run a trolling motor of 23 pounds or less on a jon boat these days? I doubt that Shakespeare’s 12 and 15 pound thrust models could pull most of my tournament partners’ tackle bags across the street, let alone pull a whole boat into oncoming current. The arms race in electrics may be the most unsung hero in the quest for better angling over the past 30 years.

And when did Shakespeare stop making electrics?