Garcia Conolon

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Garcia Conolon

Initially established as NARMCO, Conolon developed the early technology of the hollow fiberglass rod.  Later owned by Garcia.

History

(from Garcia Conolon Stars)

The original "Conolon" material was developed during WW II in San Diego for military aircraft applications. The original team involved could see the war ending and began finding new uses for this "Conolon" process.

About 1944 the primary Engineer Glenn Havens left Convair Aircraft in SD to form the Narmco Company in SD. Several of his developement staff followed him but several others went to work for Dr Howard at Shakespeare. That both companies claimed the developement of the Fiberglass fishing rod about the same time with two different construction process's seems to be the fact. Narmco moved to Costa Mesa in 1951.

Anyway the early rods of Narmco generally followed a rule of numbering by developement (Narmco SD, 1945-1949), starting with low model numbers and names such as the Fanwing etc. With the move from the first site in Costa Mesa to the second site around 1955/6 the rods were being listed with model numbers such as 6101 down to I think 3000 high numbers were the high end rods etc. As to the tapers, pretty much the same on a 6wt etc, the fit and finish was the major difference to include the number of guides, presense of agate strippers etc. 

By the time Namrco moved to the new plant in Santa Ana in 1960 they were already using painted colors on the lesser rod models (this saved untold numbers of cosmetic blemished blanks which Narmco hadn't previously been using. The highest end rods from 1960 until around 1963 where still natural right up the the final year of the Garcia Conolon Royal Javalin, which was finally painted in its last year of existance. By the time the 1964 rods came out they were all painted and started showing up with stars, best was the 5 star, worse was the solid blank no star black series. (some were dark green too) 

need to incorporate more information from Richard (Garcia custom built fly rod called Royal Javelin used orig)

The rods themselves didn't see much change in tapers until Russ Peak in 1960 visited the new site and got permission to roll his glass blanks in the shop. Garcia Conolon in this agreement got to copy several of his better mandrels and watch how he wraped them. Thus the famous 2400-2402-2404 arrived. These same mandrels were Im sure used in several of the 1970s Lee Wulff series of fly rods. Again fit and finish was a major point in the higher end rods. In any case most of the best rods are excellent fly rods for the period, as good as any other and perhaps better than most. 
The earliest rods had some of the best ferrules, "Super Z" and better reel seats (Featherweight, Allen and Cal-Air). 

Timeline

1951 Move to Costa Mesa

1955/6 Second Costa Mesa site

1960 Santa Anna

1960 Garcia Buys Conolon

The Conolon Live Fiber rods (NARMCO)

ModelLengthWt.YearComment
8100 MissiliteTobacco Glass more information wanted
F-808'1957-1959DT-7?
8101?-1956-?Conolon Citation 8101 Consumer Reports Glass Fly Rods
6101?-1956-?Conolon Atlas 6101

Garcia Conolon Rods

Custom no star  top of the line

5 star

4 star

3 star

2 star  (mostly if not all blue rods)

ModelLengthWt.YearComment
24548'Dry Fly Action Garcia Conolon
2639T9'Bass Bug Action  (Blue) Garcia Conolon fly rod
76228'Royal Javalin (early Garcia)
20258'Dry Fly Action D-HDH-HCF. Garcia custom built fly rod called Royal Javelin used orig
2537-A8' 6"8-9

5-star, Dry Fly action.

45378'7-82-star: blue.  Standard version (not dry fly) casts well with a 6 wt. line.
2536
7'-10"
7
 4-1/2 oz., 2 piece staggered ferrule, rated for a 7 wgt line, although for me they cast well with a 6 wgt SA, Headstart line. fast taper (My personal favorite). This model feels like it has a faster tip action than most of the other GC models. (CZ added Barry's comments)

Conolon rods, especially the two star rods can benefit from one or two extra guides, but this involves redoing all of the guides.

Wulff rods

Produced from ? to ? (early 70s).  These are some of the most collectible of the Conolon rods.

ModelLengthWt.YearComment
20706'1.7 oz.  
20717'7

Ritz rods

Later Conolon models

Comments

Barry said on Feb 4, 2011

2536 - 7'-10", 4-1/2 oz., 2 piece staggered ferrule, rated for a 7 wgt line, although for me they cast well with a 6 wgt SA, Headstart line. fast taper (My personal favorite). This model feels like it has a faster tip action than most of the other GC models.