Shortly after the spinning system became ensconced in our fishing culture, the graphite rod was introduced in the late 1960s’. And they were expensive when compared to the glass rods we had been using for years, costing two to three times more. Since the introduction of graphite rods, so many improvements have been made, it’s almost as if the rods have been remade. State of the art epoxies thinner rods with more fibers per inch, nano technologies for guides, reel seats and other components that make up the rod. The price of a graphite rod has actually gone down, although you may not think that when you look at an Orvis or Sage rod costing in excess of $700. It is also interesting to note that glass rods have made a comeback, especially in saltwater situations. A relatively late development in rod blank technology is the composite blank, part graphite and part glass.
As labor cost increased exponentially in the western world, much of our fishing equipment came from Japan instead of Europe. The shift in economic activity gave the impetus for companies like Daiwa and Shimano to emerge.
During the mid 1970’s, an article appeared in the sports section of the Washington Post. Their sportswriter was excoriating another writer about his assessment of surf spinning reels. What targeted writer failed to include as a major development by Daiwa, the shirted spool which prevent line from being wrapped around the shaft. Until the skirted line wrapping around the shaft was a gig problem. Now all spinning reels have skirted spools.
Like the U.S. and Western Europe, as Japan experienced their economic growth, their labor cost increased. As a consequence, their manufacturing companies outsourced much of their production to other countries. Much of our fishing tackle was coming from either Korea or Taiwan and that included traditional American companies like Penn.
The exception to fishing tackle being imported from Asian counties is quality fly fishing rods and reels. Some reels like Hardy are still imported from England, but reels from Ross, Lamson and Abel are all machined from bar stock aluminum and made in the U.S. The same is true with high end rods by companies like: Sage, Lamiglas and G. Loomis.
Now it appears there has been another sift in labor and production. Recently I bought a spinning reel made by a company call the “USA Reel Company”. Guess where it is made? China!
Good luck and keep the lines tight. Paul