Archive for the ‘July 2010’ Category

Any Talk Is Good Talk… A Lesson in Advertising

Keeping your company name or product in front of people is the key to strong sales. I once learned a valuable lesson about the positive effect that any type of notoriety can have where advertising and marketing is concerned. I’d like to close out the month of July with a brief account of an experience that taught me a great deal about advertising and why you never want to look a gift horse in the mouth… even when it may not appear to be much of a gift at the outset.

Many years ago I worked for Jeep Corp. and while arriving to visit a local dealer I couldn’t help but notice a brand new Jeep Wagoneer parked across the street in a vacant lot. The reason I couldn’t help but notice it was due to the fact that mounted to its roof was a 4×8 sheet of plywood, painted green with white lettering that read “Another Hollingsworth Jeep Lemon.” To accentuate the sentiment, the owner had pasted cut outs of large yellow lemons all over the sign. I had to admit that he was pretty creative and it was all fairly well done.

Entering the dealership I spotted the entire sales crew peering at the “lemon” through the front showroom glass. I engaged the general manager in conversation and he related that the customer had burned up his automatic transmission, twice, due to towing a very large saltwater fishing boat after refusing their advice to install an auxiliary transmission cooler.

I asked him what he intended to do about it.  He quickly exclaimed, “What am I going to do about it? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do about it – I’m going to call the newspaper and see if we can get this in the afternoon edition!”

With a puzzled look on my face I inquired as to why he would want to further expose his dealership to such bad publicity. Then he said something that I’ve never forgotten… “There is no such thing as bad publicity. Any talk is good talk, just as long as they’re talking.” And then he added this, “We’re going to move a lot of cars this week. We’re going to set a new sales record. Wait and see.”

And you know what? They did.

“Any talk is good talk, just as long as they’re talking.”

The owner of the “lemon” eventually saw the positive effect his display was having and decided to remove his vehicle. The general manager of the dealership sent him a thank you note for the tremendous sales boost and, I was told, kept the man on his Christmas card list for many years afterwards.

Tom Kirkman


Teeny, Tiny, Micro, Mini Guides…

Way, way back, somewhere around 1984 or 1985, Berkley was hot off a successful year selling a new, inexpensive yet relatively high performance graphite fishing rod known as the “Lightning Rod.” With an extensive R&D Department, they weren’t known for resting on their laurels. A year after the Lightning Stick debuted, Berkley followed with what they hoped would be an even more successful rod line, the “Series One.”

The first thing anyone noticed about the Series One rods was the teeny, tiny, low frame single foot line guides hugging the rod blank. These low frame guides sported extremely small guide rings, about a 5 or 6, which at that time was absolutely tiny compared to the standard size 8 guides found on most rods.  A lot of fishermen couldn’t believe that a rod fitted with such tiny guides could possibly function very well.  In fact, it may have been this resistance to something that seemed so revolutionary that eventually doomed the Series One. But any way you cut it, those rods were light and extremely responsive, at least in part to the very small and light guides employed. After the demise of the Series One rods, it would be almost two decades before anyone would again mount extremely small guides on a fishing rod  here in the U.S.

Good custom rod builders understand that competent rod building involves fitting a rod with the smallest guides that will still pass the required line and leader connections and stand up to the required task under any and all conditions in which the rod will be used.  Smaller guides are generally lighter, and reducing the weight that the rod blank must carry means the resulting rod will be more responsive.

In the last couple of years, rods with extremely small guides have again made an appearance. Some possess rings no larger than 2.5 mm! Whether you call them “micro” or “mini” or just “teeny tiny,” it appears that this time they have gained a solid foothold in the market. First appearing on high end custom made rods, the commercial makers quickly took note and decided to follow suit. Many fishermen wonder if it’s all just a marketing gimmick while others are already using and swearing by them.

Modern Micro Guides

Where applicable and when following the earlier rule about guide sizing, these tiny guides can and do result in rods that offer increased sensitivity, balance better and respond more quickly than rods sporting larger and heavier guides. And the innovations are still coming.

Just yesterday Joe Meehan from American Tackle sent me a promo of the company’s new Artus Ringlock guides complete with what the company is calling their new Foot Lock technology. All the guides in this series offer the company’s well known Ring Lock technology as well.

Carl and Donnie down at Angler’s Resources have been quietly selling the heck out of the Fuji Micro Concept guides and tops. Considering that Fuji rarely brings anything to market that they don’t feel is going to be worthwhile over the long haul, this makes a huge statement as to the future viability of the tiny guide market.

Batson Enterprises was at the forefront in micro guides, or as they like to call them “Mini Guides.” Local custom rod builder and friend Steve Gardner showed me a rod with these tiny Batson Forecast guides more than 2 years ago, demonstrating one at the Expo and proving to many disbelievers that he wasn’t the least bit crazy – that they really did work.

Pacific Bay’s popular Minima guides were pretty darn light right out of the gate, owing to the thin hard chrome insert in place of a standard ceramic insert. Their Model F low frame single foots were previously only offered down to a size 4 – considered pretty large by some micro standards. But now Vic Cutter tells me that they’ll have the Model F Minima’s in a new size 3 in the very near future.

Tom Kirkman

Follow these links to read more about the micro and mini guide offerings from American Tackle, Batson Enterprises, Fuji and Pacific Bay.


Evolution or Revolution?

The big news this past week came from the annual ICast event where several rod and blank manufacturers announced they were building product with the new 3M Nano-Silica Matrix Resin.  According to 3M, rods and blanks which utilize the new resin can be made lighter, stronger and tougher. Setting aside the expected marketing claims, most custom rod builders will want to know just how much of a real difference the new resin system will make in the blanks they’ll be buying in the coming year.

Before you can speculate on what any new resin system might mean in regard to improved rod performance, you need to understand why it’s there in the first place.

The perfect rod blank would have no resin. in use, the carbon power fibers would stay bundled together and in perfect alignment without any resin, even as the rod was flexed. But we know that doesn’t happen. When a rod is flexed it changes shape, moving from round to oval. The more you flex it the more it wants to go oval. Without a resin binding the structure together, you won’t be able to flex it without the fibers separating from each other. So the main purpose of the resin in a rod blank is to keep the fibers bundled together.

Traditionally, most resin systems used in rod manufacturing have been less strong than the fibers they’re holding together. When a rod fails from overload, the initial failure isn’t caused by the fibers breaking – It’s caused by the resin being unable to hold the fibers together beyond a certain point. The instant the fibers blow out of the matrix (resin) the tube (rod blank) buckles and you have a catastrophic failure. The final result is broken fibers and a broken rod, but it all began when the resin reached the point where it could no longer keep the fibers bundled together.

A stronger resin can hold the fibers together under a greater flex, thus allowing the rod to sustain a greater load before failing.  When you hear someone say that this new resin results in a stronger rod, this is what they’re talking about. And this is what the new 3M product claims to do.  Immediate improvements should be seen in the area of greater resistance to things like “high sticking.”

As far as the resin increasing rod durability, that’s a bit harder task for any resin to accomplish. The sad fact is that most rod failures do not occur due to overloading. They occur due to abuse such as impacts from hitting the rod on or with something, or allowing lures or other rods to “chatter” against each other while zooming down the lake in a boat. In order for a resin to provide greater durability, it has to create a harder substrate which is more resistant to bruising or fracturing. 3M is saying that the nano-silica particles in this new resin system do exactly that, at least to some extent.

The reality is that this new resin system is most likely going to result in some advancement in terms of increasing the amount of load or flex a blank  can withstand without failing.  It may even improve the amount of abuse a rod can withstand, but it’s not going to result in any sort of unbreakable rod. Not even close. The same abuse that will break your current rods will still break the rods made with the new resin system.

So how much of a revolution this new resin system represents really depends upon your expectations. If you’re expecting it to create a high performance yet unbreakable rod, you’re apt to be disappointed.  But if you’re a little more realistic and will settle for a lighter rod with a little more durability that will still perform at the highest level, you’ll likely be quite pleased with the blanks you see appearing in the next few months. Maybe that’s not exactly a revolution, but it’s certainly a worthwhile advancement in the continued evolution of the fishing rod.

Tom Kirkman


International Symbol for Custom Rod Building

If you’re new to custom rod building, you may have seen a symbol consisting of three rod tip silhouettes (fly, cast-spin and roller type) on a simple white background. Maybe you’ve  seen it on a rod building component manufacturer or dealer website. Perhaps you’ve seen it on another rod builder’s business card. Maybe it’s appeared on a car, truck or boat as it was moving down the highway. My guess is that you’ve wondered what the heck it represented and why these companies and rod builders are displaying it.

Well, if you’re a custom rod builder – it represents you!  That’s right. The symbol was designed and launched about 2 years ago with the intent of giving the custom rod building craft it’s own unique identification symbol.  Surely you’ve seen the “Diver Down” symbol that so many scuba divers display on the front of their cars. Or the “Thin Blue Line” that law enforcement folks display on the back glass of their personal vehicles.  While the general public doesn’t always recognize or understand what these symbols represent, those who are active and participating in these endeavors know exactly what they are. When they see another person displaying one they know they’ve run across one of their own. So too with the International Symbol for Custom Rod Building.  When you see it you know the company or person displaying it is involved in some way with custom rod building. And that’s the point – to encourage greater camaraderie and community among those who practice this worthwhile craft.

So if you’re new to custom rod building and you happen to see someone displaying the symbol, go on over and introduce yourself – you’re in good company.  Most likely, the person you’re approaching will be happy to talk a little rod building with you. That’s why they’re displaying the symbol!

More information on the symbol, it’s history and how to obtain a free decal featuring the symbol can be found at:

As of July 2010, over 40,000 decals featuring the symbol have been provided, free of charge, to those in the rod building craft and industry. You can get one too, and for nothing more than an envelope and a stamp.

By the way, if you decide to send for your free decal, and I hope you will, make sure to include a 5×7 inch SASE. The decal is too large to mail in a regular letter sized envelope. A single first class return stamp will mail two decals, so expect an extra when your envelope is returned to you.

Tom Kirkman