Bass Handler I casting rod handle ad that appeared in the Nov/Dec 1978 Issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

One of the things you can’t fault about anglers is their creativity, especially when it comes to trying to solve angling problems. Innovative Rod Handles Part 1 and the next couple of posts will delve into this creativity and ways manufacturers have tried to solve some inherent issues around rod and reel matchups. We’ll start today with a baitcasting solution called “The Bass Handler”.

There are several problems posed by the traditional baitcast rod and reel combination. These include rod twist and torque, line contact with the blank when under heavy load, and overall balance and feel. While newer solutions to these problems include things like spiral wrapped guide patterns and Interline blanks, back in the late 70s an instrument fitter named Carl Fontenot from Lake Charles, LA came up with his solution called “Bass Handler-One”. By situating the rod blank into a handle that featured a raised forward section, the line could pass through and travel along the underside of the rod blank via a large opening. The outfit more closely mimicked a spinning setup with the guides wrapped along the bottom of the blank.

The “Bass Handler” was packaged more as a component item, most likely intended for use by custom rod builders. Word is they were designed to hold Lew’s Speed Stick ferrules. Material technology of the era being what it was, the handles were said to be somewhat heavy, and appeared to be made from some type of hard plastic. In the picture, it also sported the ever-popular rubber pistol grip of the times.

Fontenot filed for a patent on 4 April 1977 and was granted the patent, 4,130,960, on 26 December 1978. The idea for the handles was supposedly hatched around 1974-75, but the few ads and mentions I’ve found for this system were from around 1978-79. I haven’t seen any further mention of the handle from about 1980 on, so they must not have caught on.

The ad shown in the picture came from the Nov/Dec 1978 issue of Bassmaster Magazine and was run in order to get you to buy the handle for your buddy for Christmas. It also noted three selling features of the new concept rod handle.  One, there’s no line contact with the rod, two, increased line sensitivity and three, better balance and no torque. The handle normally sold for $15.95 each but you could get one for your buddy for Christmas for only $14.95.

In Part II tomorrow, we’ll look at another way to solve a similar set of problems, this time in a matching rod and reel combination from a once very popular industry player.