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Is Buying US-Made Fishing Gear Worth The Dent in Your Wallet?

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August 20, 2012

Is Buying US-Made Fishing Gear Worth The Dent in Your Wallet?

By John Merwin

Very often when I write about various fishing tackle items, some readers comment that they wish the item in question were made in the U.S. They’d be much happier buying a domestic-made product. They’d like to support American jobs in the tackle industry. So this morning I’ll give you a chance to put your money where your mouth is.

American-made fishing tackle is far from dead. To be sure, giant, global-tackle brands such as Daiwa, Shimano, Rapala, and more depend, for the most part, on overseas (usually Asian) factories. But look around a bit, and you’ll find plenty of quality gear that’s made here at home--hook, line and sinker. Here are a few examples.

Fishing lures are the toughest, but there are still notable examples. One is Dardevle spoons (pictured here). Michigan’s Eppinger Manufacturing is in its third generation of family ownership and still stamping out spoons by the millions every year. Want to support American-made? Buy more Dardevles.

Now for the hook, line, and sinker part. Bullet Weights , one of the major manufacturers of a wide range of sinkers, was founded in Nebraska in 1970. Manufacturing still takes place there. For fishing line, look no further than Spirit Lake, Iowa, where I once stood awestruck at Berkley’s giant extrusion machinery that was pumping out mile after mile of Trilene monofilament. And for hooks, you can’t do better than Eagle Claw, which makes a vast array of excellent hooks at its Colorado factory.

One of my favorite fishing-rod companies is St. Croix Rod in Park Falls, Wisconsin. I say favorite because it’s still family run, and I know and like the three brothers in charge: Paul, Jeff, and David Schluter. They make rods for just about every possible use in fresh and saltwater, the majority of which come out of their Wisconsin factory. And yes, some of their lower-end rods come from a new plant in Mexico—business is business, after all.

Reels are another tough one, as most are imported. But there’s at least one source for American-made spinning and baitcasting reels: Ardent. This company is based in Missouri, and yes, does indeed manufacture both reel types in the U.S.. Ardent reels are competitive in price, quality, and performance to major import brands. I’ve used them, which is how I know.

I’ve only scratched the surface and there are lots more examples, even in flyfishing, where (mostly) domestic-made brands such as Loomis, Orvis, Sage, and Winston are still going strong despite the increasing popularity of lower-end, cheaper fly-rod imports.

That brings up a final point. There’s plenty of good U.S.-made tackle. Sometimes (not always) it’s more expensive than imported goods. It’s easy to talk about supporting American jobs. But what if that support makes a bigger dent in your wallet?

Comments (20)

Top Rated
All Comments
from weedless97 wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

I WAS MADE IN AMERICA.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Just like it's worth a little more to have a small local tackle store that deals in things you can't get at the big-box stores. The BS runs real think in those places too. That's worth it just as much, IMO.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dantheman66 wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

You could probably include Mepps in that list. They're American owned and assemble their spinners just up north in Antigo, WI, though I think they still manufacture many of the parts at the original plant in France. Either way I've caught plenty of trout, northerns and musky on their spinners, and my uncle used to sell squirrel tails to them back in the day.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from tritonrider wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Thomas and Thomas rods. Local for me. Totally dedicated fishermen, awesome people, incredible personal service, and outstanding resolution of the few problems that might come up. Just can not say enough good things about my dealings with them and I'm just an average fisherman with no special pull or connections.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

The best GO 2 lure I use is made in a guys garage in Pennsylvania and now I hear West Va. I have have personally seen the assembly line. Picola Niti 1

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I have been a Thomas & Thomas customer for years. Great rods with even better service.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

What "dent", John? I just bought two old wooden black jitterbugs for $10 each at an antique mall. I scout estate auctions for tackle and lures that I can use. I will continue to buy what works for me and it is no coincidence that it's 100% American made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Most tackle shops seem to carry some sorts of local, garage made lures or flies, just like turkey calls, nothing more American than that. Rapalas are too darned expensive regardless of where they're made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from LostLure wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

YES, buying American is worth it. I'm with you John, that St. Croix is one of my favorites. Another American company is Acme Tackle (Kastmaster), made in Rhode Island.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

its hard to believe that anything american is made in america anymore. with outsourcing everything can be made cheaper and yet the price tag goes up while the quality of a product goes down. my wife's chevy silverado 2006 with a price of about $38k, hard to believe that 50 percent of its parts are made anywhere but here and the quality is $hit. just spent $700 on new rotors, calipers, brake line, and heavy duty pads because the last set of ac delco pads that were probably made in mexico for 50 cents fell apart after 20k miles. 3 out of 4 of my nikon scopes which are american made had to be returned because they would not hold zero, had to be sent back to el segunda ca. yet when i talked to a product specialists, they were located in puerto rico and various parts of south america. again fat price tags on american items yet the quality stinks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fruguy101 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Bandit Lures is one some of you probably know since they are carried in most fishing aisles of large chain stores. They are a company located in Sardis, MS. They make crankbaits to use for bass and crappie fishing. In the south, they are one of the go to manufacturers for crankbaits where crappie fishing is concerned. The fact that they are very close to Sardis lake, which is known as one of the hottest crappie lakes in the US, helps out for their research purposes. I prefer to buy US made when possible, but sometimes, if the product is going to be beat up and thrown away after a short time, the cheaper foreign product is the route i will choose.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FalboJRMIA wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

www.MadeInAmericaStore.com has Dardevle lures right at their store! 100% American made!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

It's worth every penny.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackjac wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Several years ago while salmon fishing in AK my new 11 ft.composite St.Croix fly pole "broke" just above the upper cork grip while fighting an 8 pound salmon from shore. We landed the fish (and saved the $$$ fly line). I phoned the company from the lodge--"sat. phone" and reported the problem-they were willing to expedite me a replacement pole that day-no questions asked. I declined being we were leaving next day. I called them upon returning home, they FED. X me a replacement with return label for the broken pole next day. I came to understand the reason for the broken pole-- it was my fault-the pole got a small nick on it while riding the guide boat from the lodge to our fishing spot, causing a weak spot in the composite. Totally impressed with the company.
BUY AMERICAN-spend the extra $$ and keep our folks working!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I own Sage and St. Croix rods and an Orvis fly reel as well as a 32 year old Shakespeare Ugly Stick and I am very happen with them. They've held up very well over time. But made in American is no guarantee of quality and is no substitute for doing your homework. I had a Penn feel and an American made crossbow which were dogsh*t. I am also very happy with my Shimano spinning reels which crush anything made in the US. Do your research and buy the best quality in your price range and above all, let the buyer beware.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

can't go wrong with st croix rods. there are tons of small muskie tackle companies in wisconsin.

coachsjike: i was talking to a guy from detroit when i was camping in the u.p. a few weeks back. he worked in the auto industry and said that the most american made vehicles are those by honda. don't know if that was bs or not

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from The White Slug wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I love St.Croix. I also have enough Americam made old Penns (both fresh and salt) with spare parts to last the rest of my life. Ardent sounds good but I get wary of future parts availability. As for the giant country where everything is made, which has siphoned off our economy to create a vibrant economy of their own, I say this: As thanks for all our business you have supported a middle eastern country that is currently massacring their own people and has trained and abetted those who have murdered our troops in the same region. I would fish with line tied around my big toe before I would ever touch a product from there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

wisc14,
thats news to me never heard that before but thanks. still hard to believe you pay $38k for a vehicle that is supposed to be american made and its not. i myself own a toyota tacoma and while it is japanese, at least i know all of its parts are japanese, not from different countries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

ECON 101..If it can meet a market, and survive financially that is the bottomline. If it can't NO. When a co., or store goes BK it can take down a number of suppliers, besides the mfg. Retailers can go under. When a foreign made product sells well in the USA it creates lots of jobs..from dock workers to the distributors to the retailers. One creates jobs, the other costs jobs. Generally speaking, hanging out in a small retailer that sells USA products, and telling stories doesn't pay the bills.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Glenn McCorkel wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

With out a doubt it's worth it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from weedless97 wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

I WAS MADE IN AMERICA.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from dantheman66 wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

You could probably include Mepps in that list. They're American owned and assemble their spinners just up north in Antigo, WI, though I think they still manufacture many of the parts at the original plant in France. Either way I've caught plenty of trout, northerns and musky on their spinners, and my uncle used to sell squirrel tails to them back in the day.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 34 weeks ago

Just like it's worth a little more to have a small local tackle store that deals in things you can't get at the big-box stores. The BS runs real think in those places too. That's worth it just as much, IMO.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from LostLure wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

YES, buying American is worth it. I'm with you John, that St. Croix is one of my favorites. Another American company is Acme Tackle (Kastmaster), made in Rhode Island.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FalboJRMIA wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

www.MadeInAmericaStore.com has Dardevle lures right at their store! 100% American made!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from The White Slug wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I love St.Croix. I also have enough Americam made old Penns (both fresh and salt) with spare parts to last the rest of my life. Ardent sounds good but I get wary of future parts availability. As for the giant country where everything is made, which has siphoned off our economy to create a vibrant economy of their own, I say this: As thanks for all our business you have supported a middle eastern country that is currently massacring their own people and has trained and abetted those who have murdered our troops in the same region. I would fish with line tied around my big toe before I would ever touch a product from there.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tritonrider wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Thomas and Thomas rods. Local for me. Totally dedicated fishermen, awesome people, incredible personal service, and outstanding resolution of the few problems that might come up. Just can not say enough good things about my dealings with them and I'm just an average fisherman with no special pull or connections.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

The best GO 2 lure I use is made in a guys garage in Pennsylvania and now I hear West Va. I have have personally seen the assembly line. Picola Niti 1

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I have been a Thomas & Thomas customer for years. Great rods with even better service.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

What "dent", John? I just bought two old wooden black jitterbugs for $10 each at an antique mall. I scout estate auctions for tackle and lures that I can use. I will continue to buy what works for me and it is no coincidence that it's 100% American made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Most tackle shops seem to carry some sorts of local, garage made lures or flies, just like turkey calls, nothing more American than that. Rapalas are too darned expensive regardless of where they're made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

its hard to believe that anything american is made in america anymore. with outsourcing everything can be made cheaper and yet the price tag goes up while the quality of a product goes down. my wife's chevy silverado 2006 with a price of about $38k, hard to believe that 50 percent of its parts are made anywhere but here and the quality is $hit. just spent $700 on new rotors, calipers, brake line, and heavy duty pads because the last set of ac delco pads that were probably made in mexico for 50 cents fell apart after 20k miles. 3 out of 4 of my nikon scopes which are american made had to be returned because they would not hold zero, had to be sent back to el segunda ca. yet when i talked to a product specialists, they were located in puerto rico and various parts of south america. again fat price tags on american items yet the quality stinks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fruguy101 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Bandit Lures is one some of you probably know since they are carried in most fishing aisles of large chain stores. They are a company located in Sardis, MS. They make crankbaits to use for bass and crappie fishing. In the south, they are one of the go to manufacturers for crankbaits where crappie fishing is concerned. The fact that they are very close to Sardis lake, which is known as one of the hottest crappie lakes in the US, helps out for their research purposes. I prefer to buy US made when possible, but sometimes, if the product is going to be beat up and thrown away after a short time, the cheaper foreign product is the route i will choose.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

It's worth every penny.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackjac wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

Several years ago while salmon fishing in AK my new 11 ft.composite St.Croix fly pole "broke" just above the upper cork grip while fighting an 8 pound salmon from shore. We landed the fish (and saved the $$$ fly line). I phoned the company from the lodge--"sat. phone" and reported the problem-they were willing to expedite me a replacement pole that day-no questions asked. I declined being we were leaving next day. I called them upon returning home, they FED. X me a replacement with return label for the broken pole next day. I came to understand the reason for the broken pole-- it was my fault-the pole got a small nick on it while riding the guide boat from the lodge to our fishing spot, causing a weak spot in the composite. Totally impressed with the company.
BUY AMERICAN-spend the extra $$ and keep our folks working!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from aferraro wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

I own Sage and St. Croix rods and an Orvis fly reel as well as a 32 year old Shakespeare Ugly Stick and I am very happen with them. They've held up very well over time. But made in American is no guarantee of quality and is no substitute for doing your homework. I had a Penn feel and an American made crossbow which were dogsh*t. I am also very happy with my Shimano spinning reels which crush anything made in the US. Do your research and buy the best quality in your price range and above all, let the buyer beware.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

can't go wrong with st croix rods. there are tons of small muskie tackle companies in wisconsin.

coachsjike: i was talking to a guy from detroit when i was camping in the u.p. a few weeks back. he worked in the auto industry and said that the most american made vehicles are those by honda. don't know if that was bs or not

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 1 year 33 weeks ago

wisc14,
thats news to me never heard that before but thanks. still hard to believe you pay $38k for a vehicle that is supposed to be american made and its not. i myself own a toyota tacoma and while it is japanese, at least i know all of its parts are japanese, not from different countries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Glenn McCorkel wrote 1 year 22 weeks ago

With out a doubt it's worth it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 32 weeks ago

ECON 101..If it can meet a market, and survive financially that is the bottomline. If it can't NO. When a co., or store goes BK it can take down a number of suppliers, besides the mfg. Retailers can go under. When a foreign made product sells well in the USA it creates lots of jobs..from dock workers to the distributors to the retailers. One creates jobs, the other costs jobs. Generally speaking, hanging out in a small retailer that sells USA products, and telling stories doesn't pay the bills.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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