So you think you're paying too much to compete? Well, comparing the cost of a graphite rod in 1974 to what it would cost today you'd be shelling out about $1,500. Thankfully the engineers figured out a way to bring the cost down and today's rods cost a mere fraction of what yesterday's rods cost. Photo Mar/Apr 1974 issue of Bass Master Magazine

In today’s bass scene, anglers complain about the high cost of nearly everything associated with the sport. Twenty-dollar crankbaits, $400 reels and $90,000 bass boats seem the norm. Everyone complains that in order to stay competitive, like the pros, they too need the high-dollar gear. Recently I was leafing through the 1974 March/April issue of Bass Master Magazine and came across this little gem of an article on the “new” graphite rods that were soon to be debuted. I thought it was interesting – not only because of the nostalgia but because the same was true back then. Equipment costs were beginning to skyrocket for those who wanted to stay competitive.

Fenwick introduced the first graphite rods in 1974, and if you read Figure 2, you’ll see that they were introduced at the hefty price of roughly $150 each. Those are 1974 prices folks. In today’s market (2022), that would be worth more than $1,500.

The other cool thing reported in this article, as can be seen in Figure 2, is the cost of a bass boat (with motor), trolling motor and depth finder. What got me was the fact that if you outfitted yourself with 10 graphite bass rods, your rod cost would be roughly half the cost of your boat!

By the beginning of the ’80s, nearly every bass angler was using graphite rods exclusively – by then the price had dropped significantly but they were still much higher than their fiberglass counterparts – and the fiberglass rod was out of the picture for the most part. It wasn’t until the late ’90s that fiberglass would make a comeback for techniques such as crankbait fishing.

Does this mean we shouldn’t complain about the high cost of gear?  No. But we shouldn’t say things were so much cheaper in the “olden days” of bass fishing. New technology costs money – it doesn’t matter what decade it is.

The last figure shows the first ad Fenwick placed in Bass Master (same issue) touting their new line of graphite rods. Check it out.

$150 for a bass rod today doesn't seem at all a bother. But back in 1976, it raised a ton of concern. Photo Mar/Apr 1976 issue of Bass Master Magazine.
Let's examine this snippet a little more closely. $3-$6k for a bass boat, $100-$150 for a trolling motor and $75-$150 for "depthfinders?" Boy did we live in a simpler time. Photo Mar/Apr 1976 issue of Bass Master Magazine.
The first graphite rod advertisement ever. Circa 1974. Fenwick introduces their line of HMG graphite rods to the market. Ad from the Mar/Apr 1974 issue of Bass Master Magazine.