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?