Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 40 No 2 SPRING 2016 - Page 8

by Colby Sorrells Tackle Time TACKLE on a Diet W ithout a doubt the biggest change in fishing tackle over the last twenty years is a reduction in weight. Every component of fishing tackle has gone on a diet and sometimes it has been a drastic change. Lighter does not necessarily equate with lesser quality in today’s world of super high tech components. Probably the greatest reduction in weight has occurred in fishing rods. Most of the weight reduction achieved by modern fishing rods originated in the fly fishing world. Fly fishers have consistently wanted lighter weight rods and rod manufacturers have tried to give them what they desire. Changes to the construction of fly rods quickly found their way to casting and spinning rods. Rod manufacturers first went after the weight of the rod blank. Older rods often included fiberglass which was heavy. Changing from fiberglass to graphite quickly gave rod makers a significant weight reduction. Graphite compositions changed over the years with a constant battle being waged between reduced weight and reduced strength. Change the make-up of the rod too much and it did not have enough strength left to be an effective fishing tool. Keep the weight too high and your competition gets all of the business with a lighter weight product. Today’s best rods are made of super-lightweight graphite. Revisions to rod components, like handles and guides, have also contributed to the weight reduction. Rod manufacturers have struggled with rod handle material for at least three decades. Cork has remained the material of choice, but quality cork is expensive. You can just look at the number of wine companies trying something other than cork to know cork is a problem. While most rod makers continue to offer cork handled rods, some are experimenting with man-made materials. Today, rod makers are incorporating grips made of the same material found on golf clubs to reduce the use of cork and further reduce weight. Many rod makers have gone to a split grip on their rod handles. By splitting the grip a bare rod blank section is exposed creating a weight reduction by 8 GULF COAST FISHERMAN reducing the amount of cork or other grip material used in the middle section of the handle. Other parts of the rod have also been skeletonized, further reducing weight. Many rods now have reel seats made with a minimum of components and exposed rod blanks. Rod makers also looked at the guides they used. Again they had to be careful because the guides need to be strong enough to effectively fight a fish. Today, most rods are made with guides incorporating aluminum or titanium alloys and inserts made of ceramics. Each company has their own proprietary alloy and design. Guides can be found with either a double foot or a single foot to help further reduce the overall rod weight. Some rods are also using micro guides to gain just a little more weight loss. Reels, like rods, have been greatly reduced in weight. Reels of just one or two previous generations weighed twice what the most modern reels do. Older reels were made out of heavy metals with a few having some lighter aluminum parts. Saltwater tends to eat everything and certainly will eat aluminum. Reel makers started experimenting with plastic and other man-made materials for their reel parts. ABU had an early inexpensive example with their Maxxam reel made almost entirely of plastic. The reel worked as long as it was properly cared for. It may have worked too well because the reel disappeared after only a few years. Companies like Shimano use several different materials to make their modern reels. Whether it is exotic metals or stateof-the-art plastic and carbon fiber, reel weights have decreased with the use of more modern components. The weight reduction in one generation of reel versus the next can be significant. Monofilament fishing line has been the standard for many generations but lighter braided lines also have a portion of the modern market. Most anglers prefer modern braided line like Spiderwire, Power Pro, or Sufix, because of the strength of the line not because of the reduction in weight. These stronger lines are also smaller in diameter, so reels can hold 1/3 to 1/2 more line by using these lines. This is especially helpful when fighting a large fish with plenty of open water to swim in. All of these changes helped reduce the weight of the fishing rig anglers use. Even though some of the changes only netted slight reductions in weight, all of the changes combined help reduce the weight of the average casting rig by at least 1 or 2 ounces. Any weight reduction helps when you make thousands of casts in a day. The weight reduction helps with arm fatigue and possibly with caster’s elbow. Other tackle used by anglers has also seen a decrease in weight. Whether it’s a wading belt, wading shoes, clothes, nets or sunglasses, all tackle has seen a reduction in weight, lightening the load every angler bears during a day of fishing. For those anglers that like to wade fish, the reduction in weight is felt immediately. One place where fishing tackle has not gotten lighter is in cost. Lighter, more modern components cost more money. But, it’s not all bad news where price is concerned. New components tend to make their way down through the manufacturer’s line-up over time and prices decrease as production increases. Today, even the least expensive fishing rods have incorporated components once only available in the high end products. The same is true for reels and other tackle components. The major weight reduction has taken place. Where the future lies, only scientists and anglers can imagine. Now, if I can just do without those cheeseburgers! GCF W W W. G U L F F I S H I N G. C O M