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Gone Fishing

Brock Bremer
On August 15, 2022

Long before modern day innovations, surviving off the land was a necessity. Our ancestors may not have paved roads but they paved the way when it comes to fishing. There was no fast food back then, everything was caught and cooked by individual people for their families. While the old ways of connecting a string to a wooden stick are long gone, fishing is still around now. Fishing technology has advanced so much you could do little to no work and still have a fun day out at the lake, but let’s take a look at where our nation started in the fishing industry. 

The first casting fishing rod was invented by James M. Clark in Chicago in 1885. It was made of bamboo and was about 6 feet long. The rod had to be stiff because it was made to cast live frogs as bait. As time went on, companies started trying out new material for their rods. In 1884, the Horton manufacturing company came out with a new bait casting rod made of tubular steel. 

After 1900, live bait was no longer the best way to catch fish. Artificial lures such as “ficial plugs” and “spoons” were beginning to be used because of the change in technique – overhead cast instead of sideways cast. In 1922, the entire industry changed; this is when the Hoe company manufactured the first successful steel fishing rods. Immediately, these rods took over about half of the market space. These rods would dominate the market until the 1950’s when fiberglass was introduced for the first time. 

Reels have also been advancing since the first one was created in 1897. There were multiple different options to choose from. The blue marlin rig was primarily used for ocean fishing. The level wind reel was created by William. Shakespeare Jr., who also created the first fiberglass rod. The spinning fishing reel and the zebco enclosed reel are two other advanced reels. 

Lures are the only piece of fishing gear that has not advanced so much. Manufacturers are still making the same products as they were in the 1900’s, just with little tweaks. In every fisherman’s tackle box you will find spoons, spinners, fake minnows, and frogs. Here at Pioneer Village you can come and see all the ways fishing has advanced!

Brock Bremer
A Student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s Service Learning Academy class.

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