Thereâ€™s no doubt that there are more folks selling more rod building blanks and components than at any time in history.Â This isnâ€™t necessarily good for the health of the rod building industry, but itâ€™s also not the subject of todayâ€™s blog entry. I mention it only because Iâ€™m reminded that there was a time when far fewer component supply dealers existed and with the aging of so many long time rod builders, many of those firms are in danger of being forgotten.
My rod building career began in the mid-1970â€™s as I was preparing to graduate high school.Â I had been building my own inline spinners, spinnerbaits and plugs for a few years and had seen rod building blanks and components in a few of the lure making catalogs.Â E. Hille and NetCraft seemed to carry some rod building stuff, as did Limit Manufacturing (now Barlowâ€™s Tackle in TX). Of course, Cabelas had some stuff.
As I became more active in rod building I sought out more dealers. Keep in mind that in those days, a catalog was indeed a â€œwishbook,â€ particularly to a kid who had more imagination than money. All the dealers published yearly catalogs. At the back of each catalog was an order form.Â You filled it out, attached a check or money order, mailed it and then waited for the treasure to arrive. That was how business was done in those days.
By the late 1970â€™s there were quite a few companies dealing in rod building supplies. The books by C. Boyd Pfeiffer and Dale Clemens had done a lot to expand interest in rod building and new suppliers had sprung up quickly to answer the growing demand.
Boyd and Dale both had their own companies – Tackle Crafters and Clemens Custom Tackle respectively.Â Lloyd Simmons and Lloyd Bingham were a bit more obscure but each had their own loyal following.Â There was a company in Miami, FL named â€œRodmakers Supply.â€ I never bought from them and still donâ€™t know much about them. Of course J. Lee Cuddy was also located in Florida and they were one of the big names in the business at that time.Â Biscayne Rod Company was there too and has long offered blanks and supplies to custom builders. They produced their own rod line and were highly respected among serious anglers.
Of course around that same time Gene Bullard was making a name for himself in Texas. I bought much of my early materials from Bullard International. Later, as we turned the corner into the 1980s, I found Mac Kelly at Heads or Tails in Louisiana. â€œHoTâ€ was my main supplier for many years. Somewhere in the mid-1980â€™s I stumbled onto Ray Carey at Raysâ€™ Custom Rods up in Arlington, OH.
Bob McKamey and Karen Hapka had purchased Simmons and Bingham mid-way through the 1980â€™s. Merrick Tackle was already a staple by then and I think they go back a long, long ways. Anglerâ€™s Workshop up in Washington has been around a good while and I think they were active in the 70â€™s as well.
I remember seeing advertisements for Corens Rod & Reel in Chicago and a place called Tackle Chandlers in Virginia, but I have no idea if either is still around.Â No doubt there were others. Some I canâ€™t recall at the moment and others that I simply never knew about. I think it would be fantastic if any of you reading this blog entry would take a moment and mention any dealer or supplier that I might have left out. Iâ€™d particularly like to hear about any dealers that were around in the 1950â€™s and early 1960â€™s.Â Thereâ€™s not too many rod builders left from that era and itâ€™d be interesting to know where they bought their supplies and what type of stuff was available during those earlier times.