1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 28 and 29.

In the first part of this series, we looked at the first 27 pages of the Heddon 1950 Deluxe catalog and covered its introduction, some of the writer/anglers who fished Heddon products, and, most importantly, all the baits Heddon offered for the year.  Today, in Heddon 1950 – Part 2, we’re going to look at the full line of Heddon rods, reels and some miscellaneous gear Heddon provided to its customers.

Heddon devoted 22 pages to their line of 45 baits in 1950, something I think we can all wrap our heads around.  They were the powerhouse of bait manufacturing at the time.  But, as I thumbed through the catalog the first time, I was astounded at the number of rods they offered.  Of course, there were bamboo rods that took up the breadth of their offerings but there were also tubular steel rods as well as solid glass rods.  In total I counted 36 different rods in the catalog.

When all was said and done, the 1950 Heddon Deluxe catalog featured 28 pages dedicated to their rods, how they built them, and why any serious angler should own a Heddon rod.  It’s astounding because when someone mentions Heddon history today, most people think of lures, not rods.

Heddon also made reels but in contrast to their rods and lures, it’s obvious they didn’t put as much energy into the manufacture of these tools.  Their reel selection covers the span of two pages with three baitcasting reels, one single action fly reel, three automatic fly reels and a “Winona” reel that appears to be of the “Willoughby” style.

To wrap up the products offered, Heddon offered braided nylon line for bait casting as well as two nylon fly lines, a “Winona” fish stringer, as well as a float.

Let’s move on to the rods.

Heddon Bamboo Rods 1950

The Heddon rod section of the catalog starts off with a nice letter written by a Mr. C. H. Shader of Glasgow, KY (see lead-in image).  Mr. Shader writes that he purchased a “Jim Heddon’s Favorite” bamboo casting rod as well as a Heddon casting reel in 1922 and it’s the only rod he’s used for the past 28 years.  With that he gives the Heddons a fish count and thanks them for their quality products.  Pretty impressive account of one angler’s experience with a rod and reel.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 30 and 31.

The next page is a small blurb about how James Heddon came to the conclusion that his company could build the best bamboo rods on the market.  Then on pages 30 and 31, Heddon goes into detail how this is done.

First Heddon talks about how they are the one of the largest importers of bamboo, which allows them to choose only the best materials for their rods.  Then they go into detail why they split the bamboo rather than cut it.  Heddon also talks about the thickness of the bamboo they choose for their rods and how by using only the thickest bamboo they can produce a rod that eliminates the pithy inner wall of the raw bamboo.

On page 31 they show how they fit each section of the six-piece assembly together, with precision lanning of each section so there are no gaps between sections.  In my past, I seen craftsmen build bamboo rods from scratch.  The work is tedious but in order to build a rod that will last, it had to be done the right way.

Heddon also talks about a tempering method in which they treat the wood.  I assume their tempering method involved a heat treatment that would anneal the bamboo fibers to make them more pliable while under tension.

On the next two pages, Heddon discusses the lengths and actions of their fly rods, and attempt to clear up the confusion between “weights” and “action.”  Back in the day it appears that rod weight was just that.  But the manner in which rod weight was given varied from company to company.  Heddon tries to clear up some of that confusion by defining their methods.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 32 and 33.

Fly Rods

The Heddon rod selection starts off with fly rods.  Remember, back in the early 20th century through the 1960s, avid bass anglers still carried at least one fly rod with them at all times.

Heddon started out with their highest-end rods first.  The Heddon DeLuxe series rods were for the serious angler who spared no expense in tackle.  Three models were offered in all their fly rod weights and actions as per the fly rod guide on page 33.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 34 and 35.

The Peerless rod sold for $50.00 while the President sold for $75.00.  For those who had to have the best with all the bells and whistles, Heddon offered their Rod of Rods which retailed between $100 and $125, depending on options you chose.  In today’s dollars, you’re talking rods with a cost from $600 to well over $1,300.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 36 and 37.

Next in the lineup on pages 36 through 39 were seven more models ranging in price from $25 to $55, a little better price point but still really high with the $25 rod costing over $300 today and the $55 rod nearly worth $700.  Imagine being a kid, or even an adult, in those days and wanting to fish with good gear?

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 38 and 39.

Bait Casting Rods

The lead-in to the Bait Casting rod section is a page filled with period pictures of some decent fish including some big bass.  First you have Bill Mills hailing from Watsonville, CA with two beefy fish pushing 14 pounds.  Next is E. A. Kilheffer of TN with four bass pushing 20 pounds.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 40 and 41.

The bait casting section leads the next page with an amazing image of two bamboo casting rods, one with a straight handle the other with a pistol grip.  We featured this section in a previous article called Bass Rod Technology from 1950 so I’m not going to spend much time on this section other than to highlight some of the more interesting rods and some of the variations they were made available in.

The Heddon casting rods were available in lengths from 4-1/2-feet to 6-feet and rated for lines from 10-pound to 25-pound.  The rods were also offered in 3 different styles; a one-piece rod, a two-piece rod and a one-piece tip rod where the rod connected at the handle.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 42 and 43.

The rods were fashioned with premium bamboo, although I have a feeling the best was used only for the top-of-the-line rods.  Handles were fashioned out of cork and/or a walnut foregrip with locking reel seats.  The rods were designed for fishing but also a few of the models served double duty as tournament casting rods.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 44 and 45.

With what I would consider eight bass rods to choose from, the saltwater or musky angler had choices too.  All of these rods were made to order and I assume one had to go to a reputable tackle shop to place an order.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 46 and 47.

Heddon Tubular Steel and Solid Glass Rods

The Heddon “PAL” series rods were originally constructed from tubular steel but when Heddon started using glass, they added the glass rods to the lineup.  Page 49 starts out the PAL rod section and look at the two sticks being shown.  Each has only three guides and a tip top.  On the next page they go into their glass rod construction as well as what lengths and actions (we’d say power today) they came in.  In this catalog, only two rods were offered.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 48 and 49.
1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 50 and 51.

The next page discusses Heddon’s tubular steel rods.  These rods are interesting in that they are seamless tubes that taper from tip to butt, but the wall thickness of the steel gets thicker from tip to butt too.  I’m not sure how this manufacturing process took place but I would have to guess some sort of flow forming.  Heddon does not talk about it only stating they’re the only company who has the rights to produce rods of this type.  If anyone knows how this was done, please leave us a comment below.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 52 and 53.
1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 54 and 55.

The steel rod offerings vastly outweighed the glass rod offerings.  In steel, Heddon had five models that could be purchased in varying lengths and actions.  Then they offered a number of other rods such as fly rods, saltwater rods, etc.

Over my life I have had a few instances where I was able to cast the solid glass and tubular steel rods.  As you’d expect, they’re heavy, whippy, and are difficult to fish.  As for sensitivity there is none.  If I were living in this age, I would have gone for the bamboo rods or purchased one of the new Shakespeare tubular glass rods that came out in the late 1940s.

Heddon Reels and Odds and Ends

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Heddon produced reels but not many.  Their premier bait casting reel of the day was the Heddon PAL, which came in three different models.  The reel boasted a 4.0:1 gear ratio, bronze gears anodized side plates, and jeweled end caps for the spool shaft to ride on.  It was direct drive meaning your drag was your thumb.  In the event of a big fish suddenly running, get your hand away from the handle, as this was a knucklebuster.

1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 56 and 57.
1950 Heddon Deluxe Catalog Pages 58 and 59.

Heddon also produced a couple automatic fly reels as well as a “Willoughby” style reel.

The final two pages presented here are some examples of line Heddon sold as well as fish stringers and floats.  But the final product shown on the bottom of page 59 is a Liar’s License.  You’d send off to Dowagiac, MI for as many as you wanted, fill them out and with them whatever you wanted.  Personally, if these were still available, I’d buy them, fill them out and give them to my buddies for their own personal use.  Of course, their names would be on the “Bearer” line.

That brings us to the end of Part 2 of the 1950 Heddon catalog.  Next we’ll finish up with a look at the popular gamefish in America from the period.  Something that will be educational as well as provide a couple of surprises.