Wednesday, July 18, 2012

7/17 - how do they do it?

Ya' know, when I started in this business back in 1996. I had many a rod built by a man named John Ogden. He lived in Mayport, behind the Elementary school. He wasn't a young hot shot, but rather a well seasoned fisherman and had to be back then, close to 80 years old.

He built alot of simple and well crafted bottom rods for people, including me. I had him also build some inshore (jetty) fishing rods of various lengths. And one set, (4 is a set) was very thin and very parabolic solid glass blanks with a new at that time, set of guides, which were complete graphite molded eyes.  No metal at all. A guide molded from graphite, with a ceramic insert. Which gave the "heavier than nomal" rod blank no added weight. A handful of these guides were like a handful of feathers. Which he said would really be a great addition to these massively durable thin solid glass rod blanks.

I fished these rods for awhile and for some reason went to all Shakespeare Ugly Stiks. Probably because I could get the same rod feel, durability, at a affordable price. And buy "sets" at a time....ya know, I.G. - instantaneous gratification? 

Things were cooking along for me as usual. And in those days Jacksonville seemed to have more fishing seminars going on. It seemed like every month there was some event somewhere that someone was hosting. And I attended many of them, and even did my fair share of doing the seminars. Also back then, everyone and their brother was coming up with a new free fishing magazine. To make a long story short, I met a guy who worked for one of these new magazines, who knew a guy who was a rep for G. Loomis rods in Florida. He put me in contact with him, and the rep added me in as a Pro-staffer for G. Loomis rods.

Wow,  high class Loomis rods.....where the catalog was like reading a book and it was as thick as one too! Purpose designed fishing rods. Rods for Salmon, Halibut, Kingfish, Bass, Sail fishing. You name it, G. Loomis made a rod to catch it. Purposely designed. My decision to go ahead with Loomis rods was also influenced by a really good friend that had many of them and he loved them.

Like the J. Peterman catalog that Elaine Benes wrote for on the TV show "Seinfeld". Each rod series came with stories of the angling adventure through distant lands you will experience, with these high modulas graphite, cutting edge, hand crafted fishing tools. In this bible of all fishing rods .

Eight years, I used nothing but G. Loomis rods. And through those 8 years I never had so many rods snapped in half by customers!  It took me eight years to find out that my customers didn't care one bit that the rod they were using was cutting edge technology and cost MSRP $250!!!!  And yes, when they broke them, they would have to pay for the replacement fee, which was $60-80.00, back then.

Believe it or not, I had a guy break a rod at the jetties because he thought he would move a 10 ton granite boulder with the rod. When in reality, he had a Toadfish hooked up that back itself into a hole.

Thing changed a bit for G. Loomis. Even while I was still getting my rods from them. Gary Loomis sold out to Shimano. But they kept G. Loomis in the same place doing the same thing. The big book like catalog disappeared. No more rods for every single fish on the planet. And then, Shimano bought up PowerPro line.

I believe they call that "corporate packman?" Making deals, no one can pass up.

So now I get NO special deals, NO 60% off retail with free shipping. And  I order my rods, or scan the yokal local stores, just like everyone else. Because I sold all my G. Loomis rods and went back to Shakespeare Ugly Stiks.

And the most expensive Ugly Stik I've ever owned was maybe $60.00. And have had a customer only break one in 4 years. Because he walked the rod from the stern of the boat, to the bow of the boat just off the deck and ran the tip straight into my bow deck, bulkhead!  That one was a Ugly Stik "inshore select" spinning rod. And it seemed many were breaking when they first came out with this new rod. And it shouldn't have broke anyhow. But it was replaced FREE OF CHARGE, no questions asked.

I now can afford to have many Ugly Stiks.......about 48!  I can now have spares sets, just sitting there. In case.

One thing that I'll always remember in that G. Loomis catalog was a message from the founder, Gary Loomis. It went something like this.....

"I can build a rod, that no one will break. But then again, no one will ever want to fish with it."

Well, the man did know a thing or two about building rods, and the materials. Had top people working for him, too.
I'm not taking anything away from him. He is still a millionaire. And I'm not. So I respect that.

But, like the title of this blog post says, "HOW DO THEY DO IT?"


Well, it's a long story of how the Ugly Stik came to be. Many, many years ago.

So here it is: HISTORY LINK

But does it matter?

They're affordable, they're durable, and they don't break (very often) and they make people like me very, very happy at the end of each charter and solo day fishing.

My newest aquisition is two 6'6" Ugly Stik Lites. Casting rods of course. Medium action. Tossing jigs will be their job mostly.  And as I walked around looking at rods, I saw some pretty fancy rods. Green rods, orange rods, water-camo color rods, some with tiny eyes on them, and some that cost.......$250.00!

I compared a name brand IM-8 Graphite rod with cork grips that was also 6'6". I looked at the eyes, the action, the weight, the reel seat. And the price tag. I held it right next to the Ugly Stik Lite that was also 6'6". The Ugly stik had better eyes, and more of them, nicer cork grips, and of course it "weighed" a bit more, but not much. I compared the action, the way the eyes were wrapped, etc.

I grabbed two of the Ugly Stik Lites, put the other rod away, and walked out of the store with two rods for not much more then what the other one rod cost.

And I know for a fact that this rod is tough!

Yeah, I know all about actions, weight of a rod, and materials rods can be made with. And some people just hate the solid glass tip on an Ugly Stik. They look at them as kid rods, or too heavy for serious angling. That's all well and good. I guess to them, I'm not angling....?

I've heard and seen it all. So, I watch people. Observation is big in the world of fishing, and a habit for me when in tackle stores. There's people who are casual fisherman, and they pass right on by the rack of Ugly Stiks. And there's stores in this town, that just won't carry many of them. Because the profit margins just aren't enough. And Ugly Stiks aren't "high class" enough.

The story you just read is the reason why I love them.

And for entertainment purposes, I often read the customer reviews on Bass Pro Shops website, and Cabelas too. There's no doubt I'm not alone in my feelings. Just type in Shakespeare Ugly Stik in the search window on Bass Pro Shops or Cabelas, pick a rod, and read the pages of customer reviews on these sites.