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Post 16 Oct 2008, 14:13 • #1 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/20/07
Posts: 536
Location: US-TX

Does anyone know who made the first fiberglass fly rod?
Or ... who marketed the first fiberglass fly rod?
Or ... which country made fiberglass rods first? ... was it England, the US, or someone else?
How did glass get it's start? Was it a monk on a high mountain or blue-collar fisherman who happened to work at a fiberglass plant?
Was it someone famous like Ogden-Smith or someone else who we've never heard of?
Who was the genius who made all of this possible?

Thanks.
I'd really like to know ...



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Post 16 Oct 2008, 14:18 • #2 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 05/09/06
Posts: 2359
Location: US
Wasn't the first fiberglass rod post war usage of technology for factories formerly making Antennaes?


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Post 16 Oct 2008, 14:26 • #3 
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Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 14586
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
The Smith brothers ran the gunshop, smithy, tackle emporium and catalog business for the widow Ogden after James died in 1895, so I think Ogden Smiths is right out.

However, according to copy in the '53 Ogden Smiths catalog I posted on another thread this morning, the first use of fiberglass on a fishing rod was by a defense plant executive during WWII to repair a broken cane rod.

According to Johnson and Johnson, the first producer of solid fiberglass rods was Mr. McGuire and Phantom Products of Kansas City, with Airex and Lionel Corporation close second.

Image

Dr. Havens of NARMCO gets credit for the first hollow glass rod, in 1945, with Dr. Howald producing his rod about the same time.


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Post 17 Oct 2008, 01:36 • #4 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/20/07
Posts: 536
Location: US-TX
Very interesting. Thanks, Bulldog.

Does anyone have photos of a first generation Dr Havens or Dr Howland rod?
It would be great to start an "on-line museum" of fiberglass fly rods.


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Post 17 Oct 2008, 08:06 • #5 
Guide
Joined: 03/23/08
Posts: 200
My guess to your original question.
Al Gore


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Post 17 Oct 2008, 10:31 • #6 
Piscator
Joined: 08/10/05
Posts: 14586
Location: downtown Bulverde, Texas
OK, political foul - may have to let this one slide, though - it's funny.


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Post 18 Oct 2008, 11:15 • #7 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 1900
Location: US-CO
There are some very early PAT PEND Shakespeare rods around. I believe the patents were approved in 1952 and rods so marked were made before then. I had a spinning and early fly rod that were labeled PAT PEND and sent them to the Grandson of Dr Howald who had posted on the board some time ago. He appreciated them and they were worth more to him than the market would value and I gave them to him.

The earliest flyrods I have were yellow blank Wonderods (model 1270T), made with the Howald spiral process and they had red wraps that looked like flat dental floss ... the thread was not round, it was flat. That was what the PAT PEND rod looked like also. I have never seen a Shakespeare with the broad weave glass so often used in the early days by other rod-makers that was a tobacco color.

Donny


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Post 20 Oct 2008, 17:06 • #8 
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Joined: 06/16/07
Posts: 8
I think the story of the broken bamboo rod tip leading to the invention of the fiberglass fishing rod comes from this history of the Shakespeare company by Eric Jesta http://www.antiquelures.com/Shakehistory.htm, "In 1944, Dr. Arthur M. Howald, Technical Director for the Plaskon Division of Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company, was on a trout fishing trip in northern Michigan when he broke the tip of his pet bamboo rod. Because replacement tips were impossible to obtain during the war, he used his knowledge of glass fibre/Plaskon resin fabrication to attempt a replacement tip of fiberglass. Although it proved to be satisfactory, he continued to experiment with rods made entirely of fiberglass. Dissatisfied with these results, he revealed his experiments to Mr. Shakespeare's son, Henry Shakespeare, the Company's new Vice President and General Manager ... "

As for photos of early rods, Glastik has posted some beautiful pictures of very early Shakespeare rods on this forum. His pictures of model 1290 and 1390 rods from 1948 are here http://fiberglassflyrodders.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2524. Rods from 1949 and 1951 are here http://fiberglassflyrodders.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2521, and a 1945 prototype is here http://fiberglassflyrodders.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2523. In addition, I've posted a few (not nearly as nice) pictures of what Glastik has identified as a 1946 prototype here http://fiberglassflyrodders.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1220.

Who's got other pictures of very old fiberglass rods? I'd love to see them. I'd also love to hear any stories about the people who made them. Who out there worked or fished with G. G. Havens or A. M. Howald, or knows a good story about Henry Shakespeare, Ted Williams, or Charles Ritz?

Art


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Post 21 Oct 2008, 01:40 • #9 
Master Guide
Joined: 04/27/07
Posts: 588
Location: Missouri
So it looks like the Wonder Rods were born about 1945, when did the first tobacco brown blanks come about? Was it Wright McGill that first began producing a rod in addition to the Shakespeare rods? Maybe Conolon? The old tobacco blanks can be a little tip heavy but I still like those early rods.

Tim


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Post 21 Oct 2008, 04:30 • #10 
Administrator
Joined: 01/10/06
Posts: 6271
Location: Holly Springs, NC
As Ron noted above, Vic Johnson gives credit to a Mr. McGuire and Phantom products for making the first SOLID glass fishing rods (whether this included fly rods is unclear). Don Phillips also indicates the solid rods came first from the same people. These rods were a length of glass fibers, soaked in resin, hardened, and finally ground to a round, tapered shape. There were no "hoop" fibers in the rod.

Dr. Howald built his rods around a balsa wood core, as shown in one of Glaskyd's links above. Eventually Howald and Shakespeare developed the process used for making Wonderods where fiberglass was spiralled around a metal rod (mandrel), then additional glass fibers running the length of the mandrel were added and cured into a fly rod.

G.G. Havers at Conair wrapped fiberglass cloth around a mandrel and cured it into hollow rods, also in the mid 40s. This was the origin of the technology used to make the tobacco rods and subsequently most rod blanks marketed since. This technique was spun off as NARMCO in 1945, creators of the Conolon rods (the other spin off was Hexcel, the company that made the fiberglass cloth). Herb Jenks started with Conair and left NARMCO in 1947 to help start Pacific Laminates (Silaflex). Obviously NARMCO was working with their fishing rods prior to Jenks leaving in 1947.

Vic Johnson felt that both Conolon and Shakespeare were developing different approaches to fly rod construction at about the same time. Of course, most development of civilian products had to wait until 1945, so the time overlap isn't a big surprise. Silaflex got into the game in the late 40s. Montague, Phillipson, and some of the others followed shortly after.

Tom

Vic Johnson & Vic Johnson - Fiberglass Fly Rods
Don Phillips - The Technology of Fly Rods


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