Heddon rod ad from 1976. You see as big as Heddon was, they weren't about to get sucked into this new-fangled rod material, graphite. Little did they know it would become a force in the industry.

Heddon rod ad from 1976. You see as big as Heddon was, they weren’t about to get sucked into this new-fangled rod material, graphite. Little did they know it would become a force in the industry.

The process of buying a new rod isn’t an easy task – especially for the angler who’s new to the sport. But even for the seasoned angler it can be a daunting task. The rods of 1976 made it a little easier for the consumer, though.  Anglers primarily threw a jig, a crank, a worm, and maybe a topwater bait or spinnerbait. Because of this, most bass fishermen only had three or four rods with them.

Rod choice was pretty wide open too. In the casting rod department, you had the choice between a 5 1/2-foot pistol grip and another 5 1/2-foot pistol grip. The spinning rods were even worse, with few designed for effective bass fishing.

Of course you could go into your local Ma-and-Pa tackle shop and get a custom rod made to your liking – and many serious anglers did just that. But what was offered in the racks from manufacturers was bleak.

Shakespeare graphite rod ad from 1976. Shakespear was one of the companies to realize the new material was to become a game changer.

Shakespeare graphite rod ad from 1976. Shakespear was one of the companies to realize the new material was to become a game changer.

Then in 1974 Fenwick announced the introduction of graphite – carbon fiber – to the scene. Unfortunately, many anglers couldn’t see spending $150 (that’s roughly $820 in today’s money folks) for one rod when they could buy an entire set for the same money.

By late 1975 we saw not only a decrease in the price of graphite rods, we saw a couple new companies start manufacturing them. Skyline, Shakespeare and Lamiglass were quick to start using the space-age material and 3M started selling graphite rod blanks to the masses. Still, they were far more expensive than glass.

Fenwick also introduced a new concept in bass rods in late 1974 that broke the old short-rod paradigm. They introduced the 7 1/2-foot Flippin’ Stik – but it would take another 10 years for the bass angler to embrace anything over 66 inches in length.

Skyline graphite rod ad from early 1976.

Skyline graphite rod ad from early 1976.

By 1976 the rod market was starting to change – but as the old adage goes, old habits don’t break easy.

Looking through a number of 1976 fishing magazines brought this to my attention. There are three new companies – Skyline, Shakespeare and 3M touting the new graphite material and the old stalwarts Heddon and Browning sitting on their laurels trying to cram the same old story down our throats.

Also in ’76, as if graphite wasn’t enough, a small company in California, Tack’l Mark Corp, the makers of Phenix Boron Rods, started making rods out of a boron/graphite composite. They were great rods for the time but again, they didn’t offer anything but a 5 1/2-foot pistol grip, a 6-foot pistol grip and a couple heinous spinning rods that came with that old Fuji club of a handle.

Anyway, I thought you might like this look back in time at some rods from the year 1976. Would any of you fish them today?

 

Browning Silaflex ad from 1976. Browning was another company that was lacking a graphite rod offering.

Browning Silaflex ad from 1976. Browning was another company that was lacking a graphite rod offering.

 

3M started offering graphite blanks in 1976. They were in direct competition with Fenwick, the company who introduced the graphite rod.

3M started offering graphite blanks in 1976. They were in direct competition with Fenwick, the company who introduced the graphite rod.