Technological innovations are behind many of the changes occurring in fishing. Global Positioning System products, stronger fishing lines, and digital weight scales are just some of the innovations. Fishery management, changing demographics, and other issues are discussed.
WHEN GEORGE PERRY cast a wooden Creek Chub plug near a cypress tree in Georgia’s Montgomery Lake and landed the world-record bass in 1932, he used an outfit that cost just over $1 and the one lure he had with him while fishing from a homemade johnboat with oars for power.
Now move forward to the late 1990s. An angler slips into a comfortable padded seat in his glitter-naked boat, revs up a 150-hp fuel-injected water-cooled motor, and roars downlake at 55 mph. He then flips out his “smart” trolling motor with built-in computer to fish a piece of offshore structure pinpointed by a Global Positioning System (GPS). Sophisticated sonar with Grayscale, a backlit display and side-scanning capability helps locate the quarry. And if the angler glances away from the screen, an alarm beeps to alert him of fish.
If trolling is on tap, he can plug in the electric downrigger which positions his lure at any depth chosen, raises it automatically to keep it from snagging the bottom, jigs the lure periodically, and creates a field of positive ions around the boat to attract more fish.
The lure, selected from hundreds stored in carefully organized boxes, is likely a computer-designed model with its machine-stamped halves of space-age Lexan plastic (the same material astronaut helmets are made of) welded together by ultrasound. He’s using a state-of-the-art $150 reel, high-tech 54-million-modulus graphite rod, with a copolymer line that is stronger thinner arrd more supple than the 24-pound-test South Bend line George Perry used–and infinitely more complex in its manufacturing process.
As an alternative–a bizarre twist no one would have dreamed of in the Depression years–if the angler is too busy to actually get out on the lake, he can flip on his personal computer (as long as he has 2X CD-ROM, 486/66MHz, BMB RAM, a 256-color monitor a sound card and a mouse, or preferably, 16MB RAM and 4X CD-ROM) and enjoy-virtual-reality fishing on a computer screen. He can also log onto the Internet and visit one of hundreds of fishing sites, or slip a how-to video in the VCR and simply watch other people fish.
If those two angling worlds seem light years apart, they are. Chronologically, they may be separated by only 65 years, but technologically, the difference is astounding. And our sons and daughters or grandchildren will likely look back in another 65 years and say the same thing about our fishing world. While the crystal ball doesn’t let us see quite that far into the future, we can predict some of the changes likely to take place as we forge into the next century.
The increasing importance of technology is the underlying theme of many recent changes in angling, and it will continue to be in the changes to come. There are limits, however as to how far we want technology to intrude on our fishing. Computers that help choose the right lure, reels that wind line automatically, lures that have built-in action, requiring the angler to do nothing–all of these seem to overstep sporting boundaries.
We want science to create products that will make fishing mom productive and enjoyable but-will not take the control out of our hands. As long as science is directed toward this end, there seems to be no limit to the modern fisherman’s willingness to embrace it. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of the boat fisherman. Using signals beamed down from satellites, a GPS can put the angler within feet of of shore structure such as a wreck, a hump or a hot spot that’s miles from land. Look for more accurate and even easier-to-use GPS units in the future.
Sonar doesn’t just flash bands of red anymore to indicate fish. It now shows how widespread the school is, what size the fish are, whether baitfish are nearby, how many fish are present and whether they are swimming to the side of the boat. More automation will make operating the complex machines as simple as pushing a button. And expect even more sophistication in displaying fish size, count and location. Indeed, it’s not outlandish to think that anglers will eventually be able to view a detailed computerized image of the underwater scene on their depth finders, with realistic baitfish, gamefish, even the lure as it slithers through the fish school and draws a strike. So anglers will not only feel the fish bite, they’ll be able to watch it on the depthfinder’s video-sharp color screen as it happens.
Trolling motors can now steer the boat along a depth contour line or keep it a specified distance off the bank. These fishing aids will be further developed to free up the fisherman’s hands, letting him concentrate on reading the water, presenting lures, watching nearby game–or simply take in the scenery.
Even little things in fishing are immersed in technology. We use digital scales to weigh fish, battery-operated hook sharpeners instead of a file, electric knives to clean our catch, LCD temperature readouts instead of a thermometer on a string, storm detectors that can sense dangerous lightning while it’s still 40 miles away.
Increasingly complex manufacturing processes make fishing lines so strong they’ll break your teeth if you attempt to bite through them, and will snap your rod if you try to pull a lure free of a snag. Reels feature multiple ball-bearings, complex drags and automatic magnetic backlash-prevention systems that allow even the novice to cast levelwinds with nary a tangle.
Though the trout fisherman wading a stream may think of his sport as more “pure” than the gadget-equipped bass fisherman or offshore saltwater angler,it, too, is immersed in technological advancements. Vests are not made of cotton now; instead, they’re sewn from Supplex, polyester, PackCloth. Likely soon: Gore-Tex fishing vests that repel water but “breathe” to allow perspiration to escape.
Waders are no longer the clunky, billowy, leak-prone rubber models of our youth, but are stylish, form-fitting neoprene or Gore-Tex versions. And they’ll get even lighter, more comfortable and rugged, and will keep you warm and toasty in icy rivers but won’t make you sweaty in the heat.
Fly manufacture is an area where synthetics have come on particularly strong, supplanting feathers from birds, fur from rabbits, hair from deer Like it or not, the modem flyfisherman is finding that synthetics such as Ethafoam, Mylar, Flashabou, Crinkleflash and fire Fly will often do better than natural materials at imitating the silhouette, reflection and quivering motion of insects and baitfish. An added bonus: They last longer.
Hooking fish is easier with new chemically sharpened and laser-sharpened points. Leaders blend hard, stiff butt sections into fine, supple tippets that are twice the strength they were for the same diameter 20 years ago.
The most innovative changes in rod design and materials also focus on flyfishing. G. Loomis, Sage, Fenwick and other companies have created ever lighter, more sensitive and angler-friendly rod designs as technology cranks out new forms of graphite. Orvis has taken modern science the farthest, though, with its Trident flyrod series. Using the same Maximum Vibration Reduction Technology the U.S. Navy employs to dampen vibrations in its nuclear submarines, Orvis has created a rod free of the accuracy-robbing shakes and tip movement typical when laying out a fly on its final delivery.
But what about the most elemental fishing sports? Aren’t they free of technology’s influence and immune to change in the future? Catfishing, maybe?
No. The catfisherman today is a sophisticated angler who uses specially designed rods made of the most advanced graphite material. He employs expensive braided or heat-fused lines that transmit bites most efficiently and state-of-the-art reels that can handle fish weighing 50 to 100 pounds. And while some still drape a chunk of cut shad or chicken liver onto their hooks, many cat anglers now use commercial offerings that required years of scientific research at universities to develop–appetite-stimulating chemical formulas designed to pursuade fish to feed even if they aren’t hungry.
This move to incorporate scent and flavor into offerings has not been confined to catfishing. Starting with fruit flavors such as grape and strawberry injected into worms decades ago, luremakers have been appealing to bass via their senses of taste and smell (as well as sight and hearing). Liquid and gel additives were popular in the 80s. The 90s trend has been to inject or mix scents and flavor into the lure during the manufacturing process. Expect even greater use of scents in lures in coming years, with efforts to incorporate them into “hard” lures as well as soft-plastic ones.
Other lure trends include subtler actions with less splash, gurgle and pop; more realistic finishes; and even smaller sizes. The more fishing pressure on bass, walleye, striper and pike waters increases, the more reluctant the fish will be to grab large, loud lures. Tempt them with tiny, quivering lures that look like food they’re used to seeing and it’s a different story.
With the average catch likely a 10-inch trout, an eight-ounce bluegill or a two-pound bass, it’s inevitable that tackle, too, will follow this downsizing trend. Entire outfits weighing mere ounces are being unveiled. As fishing pressure is exerted on a fairly static number of waters, the light-tackle anglers with subtle lures, thin lines and delicate outfits will be the ones who draw the most strikes–and who have the most fun when they connect.
To cope with increasing angling pressure, fishery managers will be forced to tighten restrictions on popular sportfish–and not just trout and bass. Look for lower limits on salmon, striped bass, walleye, northerns, even species one never used to worry about, such as crappies, bluegills and catfish.
Manitoba has been a leader in this regard, allowing no channel catfish longer than 24 inches to be killed on its outstanding fishery on the Red River Such slot limits–with fish in prime middle-size ranges protected–are good. If fishing is to remain high quality, however, a ban on harvesting trophy specimens will be necessary. So what Manitoba has done with catfish, fishery managers will do with huge bass, stripers and walleyes, in time. All of the giants will be off-limits for killing. As that management system kicks in, length will become the crucial measurement for judging world-record fish.
In fact, the trend will be toward total catch-and-release fishing, a practice that has become entrenched among trout fisherman and is widespread among bass anglers. Some states are even mandating no-kill fishing on selected bass waters, such as stretches of the Potomac River in Maryland. Even people seeking crappies, walleyes and catfish are releasing most of their catch unharmed.
With no-kill fishing, barbless hooks will become more common, since they make it easy to unhook fish, causing minimum injury. Johnny Morris, owner of Bass Pro Shops, has just introduced a new Conservation barbless hook series and is encouraging tournament sponsors to mandate such hooks. Single hooks will begin replacing trebles on more and more hard baits as well.
Look for other regulation changes, too. On a small number of well-known, hard-fished waters, limits on the number of anglers or boats allowed per day will be needed. And if a body of water is noted for exceptionally large fish, such restrictions will be needed as the number of anglers grows. Limits won’t be easy on those turned away at the gate, but it will help the sport in those relatively few fisheries where overcrowding is a serious problem. The aesthetics will be preserved and the fish will be more likely to bite.
Limits to minimize fishing pressure will represent a page taken from the private land method of managing quality fishing waters, which, like it or not, constitutes a greater part of our fishing future. Increasingly, people with quality private fishing resources will institute sound management policies and allow a limited number of anglers to use them for sport. With light pressure and little or no harvest allowed, superb angling can be ensured.
Such trout waters are found throughout the country. This management system is also catching on in the bass fishing world; expect privatization of a few select waters for catfish, stripers and walleyes as well.
As the types of waters we fish will change, so will the species we go after. Fish besides bass and trout will draw more attention from anglers. Walleyes, for instance, have undergone a tremendous surge in popularity with new specialized lures, rods and sophisticated tactics developed every year. There are walleye tournaments, walleye pros, walleye magazines.
Other fish that will play a greater role in the future of angling are catfish, carp, crappies and freshwater stripers. New hybrid species will also be developed. Saltwater fishing will grow in importance as more anglers realize they don’t need a cabin cruiser and $300 reels to fish in the brine, but can simply take a flyrod and a pocketful of streamers or a spinning stick and box of plugs, head out in a small boat, or even wade and catch stripers, weakfish, blues and drum.
The demographics of angling are changing, too. No longer is it a sport that’s more important to rural people than to city dwellers. Urban residents can be fishing on topnotch waters with just an hour or two drive, sometimes less. As waters are cleaned up, look for more fishing opportunities in the middle of major metropolitan areas.
Another change in demographics is the increase in the number of women who fish. While the number of anglers in the country is rising slowly, the number of women m the sport is increasing dramatically. Nothing could be better for the sport. Fishing will become more and more a family endeavor
Yes, the world of angling has altered inexorably since George Perry’s time. The future holds still more dramatic change-most of it, one hopes, for the better.
A Record — by no means complete — of the people, the events and the inventions that changed the face of fishing.
English nun and noblewoman Dame Juliana Berners publishes A Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle, thought to be the first book devoted solely to sportfishing.
In London, Charles Kirby develops new methods for tempering and hardening metal fishhooks, and invents the Kirby hook-shape, still in use today.
The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton is published in Britain and becomes the classic on the art and pleasure of angling. More than 400 English-language editions have since been printed.
The Birth of Baitcasting: The modern baitcasting reel owes its existence to a group of 19th-century watchmakers working independently in Kentucky. With the existing British-style, single-action reels of the day, a fisherman couldn’t truly cast it from the spool. This changed when watchmaker George Snyder applied his knowledge of fine gearing to fishing reels. Snyder essentially invented the first modern-style, multiplying casting reel in 1810. It was an instant hit and the subject of much local acclaim. The only problem was, Snyder made very few reels. When one of his customers, Judge Mason Brown of Frankfort, Kentucky, somehow lost his precious Snyder reel in 1832, Snyder was too busy with his watchwork to replace it. Brown then took his request to another local watchmaker, Jonathan F. Meek. Decades later, Meek would be given credit for “inventing” the baitcasting reel; but in fact his contribution was to refine and improve Snyder’s original design. Meek teamed up with his brother, Benjamin (also a watchmaker), and began manufacturing the new reels in earnest, to a hungry and widening market. Further contributions and refinements of reel-design were made by John Hardman (yet another Kentucky watchmaker) in 1845, and by Benjamin C. Milan, who took over production when Ben Meek returned to fulltime watchmaking. By 1883, Ben had tired of watchwork and devoted himself to building and designing reels until his death in 1901. Ironically it was he–who had no interest in fishing–who most improved and perfected the modern-style baitcasting reel that would dominate the fishing scene for nearly a century.
SPOON LORE: On a summer day in 1811, a young man named Julio Buel fumbled an eating utensil and changed the future of fishing. It was the morning on Lake Bomoseen in Vermont, and Buel, frustrated and fishless, decided to break for lunch. He was drifting along in his rowboat, eating tapioca pudding, when he dropped his teaspoon overboard. Ruefully, he watched the spoon flutter down. But it never touched bottom–a “huge bass” zoomed out of the depths, inhaled the spoon, and disappeared
Buel thought it over. Then he went home an appropriated another spoon from the silverware drawer. He sawed off the handle, bored two holes at either end of the bow, one to hold a hook, the other for his line. Back on Lake Bomoseen, he cast his new invention and immediately tied into a large bass. Then another, and another. Buel’s life was about to change, and the world was given its first spoon-style fishing lure.
Not until 1848 would Buel officially patent his Spoon lure. (Clearly on a roll, in 1852 he patented the first “spinner” lure as well.) In 1854, he moved to Whitehall, New York, and opened the J.T. Buel Company factory, which successfully specialized in the manufacture of spoon-type lures.
Though Buel initiated the “spoon industry,” he was eventually eclipsed by another enterprising young man, named Lou Eppinger, and his Dardevle.
What Buel had begun, Eppinger took to another level. In 1967, with an irony that must have been all too apparent to luremakers versed in the big-fish-eat-little-fish facts of life, the Eppingers of Dearbon, Michigan, bought and absorbed what was left of the spoonlute company J. T. Buel had started 100 years earlier.
The Mustad Company begins manufacturing fishbooks in Norway.
The modern-style cane flyrod is born as Sam Phillipe, a gunsmith and violinmaker from Easton, Pennsylvania, breaks with British tradition and invents a new and much-improved flyrod, its blank made entirely of tapered, laminated split-bamboo.
Riley Haskell patents “the most famous lure” of the day: the Haskell Minnow. Fewer than 40 survive, and bring as much as $10,000 apiece at collectors’ auctions.
Outdoorsman Hiram Leonard reinvents the split-bamboo flyrod by making a lighter, better-tapered blank designed to cast in balance with the new silk lines that replace braided horsehair. The result is a remarkable improvement over the heavy, unresponsive rods of previous makers like Sam Phillipe and Charles Murphy. The idea of building a rod to balance with aline for smooth and efficient casting begins a new era in flyfishing.
Seth Green, former Fish Commissioner of New York State, fish culturist and outstanding flycasters (in 1864 he had become the first man ever recorded to cast a fly 100 feet), introduces the California (rainbow) trout to the eastern United States, hoping he hardier species can thrive in the increasingly despoiled waters that were once home to native, pollution-sensitive brook trout. The transplant is more successful than even Green anticipates, leading to an expanding rainbow trout fishery throughout the East and the upper Midwest.
In Perth, Scotland, Peter Malloch invents the first fixed-spool fishing reel, precursor to the modern spinning reel.
The appearance of Floating Flies and How to Dress Them, by British author Frederic M. Halford, fuels the dry-fly revolution in American flyfishing
Claude King of Denver Colorado, establishes Sports Afield, now the oldest extant outdoor magazine in America.
WHITTLING HISTORY: The legend has been told so many times it’s taken on the solidity of fact, and might even be true: One day, circa 1890, James Heddon was sitting on the shore of Michigan lake, waiting for a fried. To pass the time, he whittled idly on a plug of wood, which he then tossed into the water. You guessed it–a big bass rushed the floating stick and smacked it high into the air. Heddon did the logical thing: He whittled another “plug” and attached a hook to one end and a fishing line to the other, creating the world’s first wooden fishing plug, the first of a log, diverse and continuous lie. In 1901, Heddon began producing his plugs commercially, and the great Heddon Lure Company was under way.
To correct the rather folksy log-cabin-to-mansion tilt of this story, it’s worth noting that by the time he carved his first fishing plug, Heddon was already a successful inventor and publisher, had been mayor of Dowagiac, Michigan, and was a sophisticated, wealthy and scientific man who knew how to turn an “accident” into a fruitful–and profitable–discovery.
Horton Manufacturing of Bristol, Connecticut, begins making tubular steel rods in the early 1900s and acquires right to Meek reels. By 1909, they offer tackle dealers a complete line of Bristol rods.
Established in 1864 as the American Fish Hook Company, Pflueger patents a unique hook hanger called the Neverfail on October 24, 1911.
A passionate and creative young fisherman named Lee Wulff sews the first modern flyfishing vest–multipocketed and worn over an angler’s clothing for comfort and easy access. A refinement of this vest first hits the market immediately after World War II as the Lee Wulff Tak-L-Pak, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
An odd piece of European-manufactured tackle called a Luxor spinning reel is first introduced to the United States. Not until 1947, however, will spin-fishing become truly popular.
In France, Andre Meulnart designs a weighted, in-line spinner that he names “Mepps”–the acronym for his company, Manufacturer d’Engins de Precision Pour Peche Sportive. The new spinner is discovered and brought home by American GIs, but not until the early 1950s does the effective spinner become wildly popular in the United States.
George Mason convinces Dow Corning to manufacture a new kind of fishing line using the polymer Saran (commonly used in plastic wrap). The new product is called Monofilament Spinning Line, and though stiff and prone to coiling, is widely considered an improvement over the braided linen, silk and cotton lines of the day.
Tired of picking out backlashes, Texas watchmaker R.D. Hull invents the prototype for the modern spincasting reel.
POPULAR CURMUDGEON: When a lure company in the 1950s surveyed its buyers to learn who they considered the greatest fisherman of the time, two names topped the list: Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jason Lucas. If this results surprised Lucas, it was only because Eisenhower–hardly an expert angler–came in first. Excessive humility was never a Lucas trait. During his 20-year tenure as Angling editor of Sports Afield, from the mid-40s to the 60s, Lucas was famous for his adamant views and edged wit. “Opinionated” was one of the gentler spithets used to capture the Lucas personality. More common was “cantankerous,” “trying,” even “bombastic.” His ultimately admiring colleague at the magazine, Zack Taylor, has described him as “a vain, egostical, often tedious man.” Yet–to readers–he was the most popular department writer in print. Lucas told it straight, with tart, acidulous humour, and he knew his stuff. For many years Lucas claimed to fish 365 days a year”). “My notion is that to be perfectly healthy, contented and able to get along without vitamin pills, a man should fish an average of at least 12 hours a day,” Lucas wrote, advice he apparently tried to live by. Biographical details of his life are few. He was born in Canada, a restless loner who in his young adult years trapped wolves and mountain lions professionally, and worked at cowpunching–experiences he late turned into profit as a writer of Western pulp fiction. The middle-aged Lucas agreed to be Angling Editor only when he was assured the job did not require his presence at an office. For years he traveled–alone, as usual–towing his trailer north in summer and south in winter, launching his simple car-top boat in whatever interesting water he could find. Lucas fished widely and for all species (he caught tarpon on a flyrod long before it was faddish–and once, just to prove it could be done, landed a 36-pound king salmon on sewing thread, a 14-hour battle), but his true love and main passion was bass fishing. Lucas’s discovery that bass could be caught in deep water preceded by more than a decade the “structure fishing” techniques that would revolutionize freshwater angling. His one book, Lucas on Bass, summed up the knowledge of a lifetime, and was deservedly a best-seller. Lucas died in August 1975 in British Columbia, while working on a revised edition of his book.
The Shakespeare Company introduces Wonderods, the first tubular fishing rods made of fiberglass, a material that quickly eclipses all other rod-making materials on the popular market.
As spinning tackle becomes known in the United States, the Mitchell Company introduces its French-made Model 300 reel. Retaining its essential design, the refined Mitchell 300 remains popular to this day.
R. D. Hull convinces the Zero Hour Bomb Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to manufacture his no-backlash reel. The company name is condensed into Zebco, and the first spincast reels hit the market.
The first Swedish-made Ambassadeur 5000 “red reels” are introduced to the United States by the Abu Garcia Fishing Tackle Company, and are widely considered the state of the art in baitcasting.
Cortland Line Company introduces the 333 Non-Sinkable Fly Line, the first modern-style, plastic-coated floating flyline, which quickly replaces silk lines and makes fly-fishing more efficient, pleasurable and hassle-free.
Ernest Schwiebert’s Matching the Hatch is published, spurring the trend toward “scientific” dry-fly fishing for trout in America.
Former physics professor Elwood L. (“Buck”) Perry of Hickory, North Carolina, rocks the fishing world with demonstration of his innovative system of angling, called spoon-plugging. Perry’s theories on the deepwater habits of species such as bass and wall-eye–and his astonishing success at catching large fish even in the most fished-out urban waters–virtually rewrites the book on warmwater angling, giving birth to the era of structure fishing.
Carl Lowrance adapts Navy technology to fishing needs with the introduction of his “little green box” sonar depth-sounder/fish-locator, beginning the era of electronic fishing.
Berkley introduces the first modern-style monofilament fishing line, made of nylon. It soon dominates the fishing world.
Minnow Magic: For most of his life, Lauri Rapala was a subsistence-level commercial fisherman in the village of Vaaksy, Finland. Working his nets and bait lines, Rapala spent countless hours observing fish and natural baits. He notice that predatory fish often ignored healthy minnows but attacked those that swam with sickly or irregular rhythms. Using pine bark, and later Ecuadoran balsa, Rapala attempted to carve minnow-shaped plugs that would simulate the attack-inducing action. He finished these plugs with tinfoil taken from candy and cheese wrappers, and drew on scales with a pen. The lure worked so well it became much in demand locally. Until 1939, Rapala sold all the plugs he could make. By the mid-1950s, samples of the Rapala lure found their way to America, and in 1962, Rapala–then 55–was contacted by a Minnesota tackle salesman seeking exclusive American distribution of the lure. The Normark Corporation was born. That same year, Life magazine, sensing a ripe human-interest story, ran a feature on Rapala, and demand for the new lure skyrocketed. Rapala’s cottage industry in Vaaksy became a factory, sales grew into the millions, and “minnow-shaped” plugs–the originals and countless imitations–became some of the most widely used lures in the history of fishing.
A.J. McClane publishes his massive McClane’s Standard Fishing Encyclopedia, the largest, most comprehensive text on sportfishing ever.
Insurance salesman Ray Scott of Montgomery, Alabama, organizes the first “professional” bass tournament on Beaver Lake, Arkansas. The age of fishing-for-dollars and pro fishermen begins.
The Fenwick Company introduces graphite fishing rods, which lead to the graphite revolution in fishing tackle.
At the age of 73, retired English professor Norman Maclean publishes his first book, A River Runs Through It, a fictionalized memoir of family and trout fishing in his home state of Montana. In 1992, the book is made into an Oscar-winning movie (directed by Robert Redford) that glamorizes flyfishing and nearly doubles the sale of fly tackle nationwide.
While fishing in Florida with Sports Afield Bass editor Homer Circle, Fred Kesting hooks and lands a seven-pound bass. By the time he gets back to the New York office, he estimates the fish’s weight at “11 pounds.” No bass in history has ever grown with such rapidity, and fisheries biologists are stunned. Asked for his opinion on the matter, Uncle Homer replies, “No comment. I want to keep my job.” According to Kesting’s most recent testimony, the bass was, in fact, “a 14-pounder,” causing colleague Jay Cassell to remark, “at this rate, Fred’ll beat the world record of 22 pounds before the year 2000.”
Daiwa unveils its first Long Cast spinning reel, featuring an improved spool design that allows longer and smoother casting. Long cast-style spools soon become standard on most quality spin reels.
SpiderWire introduces a new kind of fishing line called a multifilament. The new line is thinner and stronger than monofilament and has virtually no stretch. Within a year, more than a dozen variations of the new line will appear.
The tackle industry undergoes a startling change–the outcome yet unknown–as many companies are absorbed by a few large conglomerates, such as Zebco and Johnson Worldwide Associates. When the Berkley Company buys Abu Garcia and Fenwick, the resulting umbrella corporation, Outdoor Technology Group, becomes the largest tackle company in the world.