Heddon Pal Rod ad from the June 1940 Hunting and Fishing Magazine.

Back in early August, we featured a post on the Heddon lures of the day in James Heddon’s Sons 1940.  Today in Heddon Rods 1940, we’re going to look at their state-of-the-art rods for the same period.

First off, we have a rod ad featuring the Heddon Pal rod.  The two big headlines in the ad state:

It’s More than a Fine Steel Rod!  It’s a “Pal” Made by Heddon

And below that,

Heddon “Pal”  “The Rod of Steel with the Bamboo Feel”

Made entirely of steel, this rod was compared with bamboo in lightness, balance and feel.

First off, Heddon talks about their patented improved construction of the hollow steel rod tube.  The lower end of the rod was made with thicker material and as you went up the rod, the steel thickness got thinner.  They state that constructed this way, the rod had the perfect feel, balance, and action, like a bamboo rod.  Hence their second headline.

Second, Heddon was touting their non-sticking tapered ferrule.  If you ever used a baitcasting rod from this period, even through the early 1970s, ferrules were the problem part of most rods.  Most ferrules never seemed to tighten up and no matter how hard one would tighten it, they always seemed to develop a loose vibration that you could feel in the cast.  Invariably this loose feel would get worse over a few hours of casting, and you’d have to tighten the ferrule back up, only to have the cycle start again.

Heddon Pal Rod, circa 1940s taken apart at the ferrule. Image Terry Battisti.
Heddon Pal Rod, circa 1940s with rod shaft placed in ferrule. Image Terry Battisti.

Heddon’s ferrule system worked.  Instead of using a collapsible collet system like many of ferrules of the 1960s, or straight-shaft ferrules of the day, they used a tapered ferrule system that matted with a screw.  The taper of the ferrule allowed it to seat securely while the screw allowed the angler to tighten the ferrule into the socket.

The third attribute of this pistol grip was the reel retaining mechanism.  I don’t have a lot of experience with rods of this period, but the other rods I do have from the 40s through the 1960s all have handles where it seems you can never tighten the reel enough.  There’s always some slop.  The Heddon handle, though, creates a tight, no-slip connection of the reel to the rod.

I have one of these rods in my collection, shown in the images.  The rod itself is a Heddon Pal 3151-L.  The rod is 5-feet, 6-inches in length and has a light action.  I have it paired with a Pflueger Nobby Model 1963 casting of the same period.

1940s Heddon Pal Rod 3151-L with a 1940s era Pflueger Nobby reel attached. Image Terry Battisti.

I have yet to use the rod on the water but for the last few months have put a lot of hours in the front yard casting and pitching with it.  With a 1/4-ounce jig, it amazes me how far it’ll cast and its accuracy with close-in pitching situations it equally impressive.

Having grown up in the era of pistol grip rods, this little gem of a combination isn’t too far off what I learned to fish with.  The hardest thing to get used to is the reel handle whirring backwards during a cast.

The weight of the rod and reel is surprisingly light.  The rod itself weighs 9.25 ounces and the reel weighs 6.17 ounces with line.  The rod weight compared to today’s rods is heavy, even for an 8-foot punching rod.  But, considering the rod is made of steel and wood, it’s surprisingly light.

Over the last few months, I have been acquiring vintage reels and rods from the 1940s and 50s.  I fished this old gear when I went to Florida recently and caught upwards of 50 bass, all on topwater baits.  It opened my eyes, even though I grew up fishing with pistol grip rods.

Today’s gear is hard to beat due to its lightness, the shear number of actions and powers, along with available lengths.  But I can’t say anything bad about this gear, especially for the time it was produced.  If I was alive back then and had the opportunity to own this setup, you can be well assured I’d have saved my money to buy it.

If you like these old ad pieces along with an actual product review, please let us know and we’ll do more of them in the future.  Let us know if you don’t like them too.