The U.S. was once the pinnacle of tackle manufacturing, but in the last 20 years companies have flocked to factories in China. Just a few have stayed the course keeping their building in the states, but the numbers have dwindled severely.
It’s no surprise that a trip to your local tackle supplier or a “Box Store” will lead you down a sea of Asian Rim tackle. Even the high-grade Japanese builders are using Chinese factories to save dollars, create more profit, and reduce expenses.
What would surprise many consumers is that the factory floors in China are rarely exclusive. Competitors use the same manufacturing facilities, and products are often made side-by-side with a competitor. Arguably from a consumer standpoint, this waters down the product we are offered, and seemingly reduces innovation in our industry.
Building products in the U.S. is a challenge, and the pain we all feel at the gas pump may be our best hope to bring some of that building back home. As the cost of raw goods and transportation rise, some companies have considered building closer to home, although this is far from starting a trend.
The greatest impact sportsmen can have on reversing decisions to manufacture overseas is to support small American builders. Over time, the larger companies will notice. Always look at the label, and if it doesn’t say…”Made in The USA”, it’s not.
Although this list is hardly complete, here is a group of companies that are still old-school crafting fishing gear on U.S. soil.
Still making about half their line in the states, Penn is not only one of the last U.S. reel companies, it is one of the oldest at more than 100 years.
The company is famous for their large conventional saltwater reels. Although a Penn International V can set you back about a $1000, a Penn Graph-Lite still costs around $300. www.pennreels.com
Able: A renowned name in the fly-fishing industry, Able has been turning aluminum high-grade cork disc drag fly reels for the last twenty-five years. The company is loved by its devotees for high-grade product design, meticulous machining, and unique fish pattern finishes. All reels come with a lifetime guarantee. Prices start at around $300 and range above the $700 mark depending the model and finish.www.abelreels.com
Lamiglas: Located in Woodland, Wash., Lamiglas has been making rods in the USA for more than 54 years. This manufacturer makes a large variety of rods form bass to steelhead models, with huge selections in casting, fly, or spin. Commonly found on both pro bass tours, this company is known for building some of the lightest rods in the world. Rod costs vary, starting around $100 up to $500.http://www.lamiglas.com
All Star: Well established in the bass circuits and light saltwater arena, the All Star Rod Company has been building rods for over twenty years. Recently their production locations have changed. Most lower and middle priced rods are outsourced, and the company limits their USA production to the Falcon and Platinum rods series. www.allstarrods.com
Huddleston: One of the most dedicated bait designers in the world, Ken Huddleston runs a modest factory in northern Nevada hand building extraordinary rainbow, shad, and crawfish soft plastic baits.
Specializing in attracting record class largemouth bass, prices range from $2.50 to $25 www.huddlestondeluxe.com
Magic Bait: Yes the stuff smells, and you should store their products carefully. That said, you would have no trouble finding a bait in their line to efficiently attract any species of catfish or carp in the US. Made in Guthrie, Oklahoma, baits are priced from a couple of bucks to ten per packet.www.magicbait.com
Eppinger: One of the oldest and most respected spoon manufacturers, the Eppinger Spoon Company has been catching every species of fish in North America for more than 100 years. Their metal lures are made in the heart of the Rust Belt in Dearborn, Michigan.
Trout, bass, pike, or salmon from a few inches to world record lengths have been fooled by these simple spoons lures. Easy to use, they are some of the most effective artificial on the planet. www.eppinger.net
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