I had good luck getting some emails when I posted about wanting to find some good Garcia Abu Matic 290 spincasting reels from the 1970's here at WANTED: GARCIA ABU-MATIC 290 REELS. So I thought I'd post about another favorite blast from my fishing past.
The two rods pictured above are from the late 70's/early 80's Lew's Fuji Speed Stick series. The company later went on to make reels and other products, but these rods were sort of ahead of their times in the mid-seventies when I can recall first seeing them.
First off, I have a casting and a spinning Lew's Fuji Speed Stick. They were called the Lew's Fugi Speed Stick because they were made by Lew's and the Speed Stick featured Fuji ceramic coated guides. I'll call them SS for the rest of this post.
I'd love to have a few more casting and spinning Speed Sticks, and I believe there were Speed Stick fly rods as well. I'd love to have a SS fly rod.
My SS rods are both bassing/inshore saltwater type rods. Back in the day when I got them, they would have been characterized as "brush rods", suitable for working worms or spinners or underwater plugs through weeds and trees and other types of vegitation.
Both are five foot six inch and from about the same time period. I can't recall if they made lighter duty rods, but I'd be interested in owning some variations of the different models that featured the black handles like the ones shown above.
Both my casting and spinning rods feature the black handles. On the spinning rod, it's a real flexible yet stiff rubber that's held to like new condition despite heavy fishing since I bought it in '75 or '76. It's unique in that the reel seat is the grip itself, which holds the reel secure and covers the reel feet with the black plastic material that the handle is made of.
My spinning rod has been paired with a Mitchell 300 since it's purchase. I remember they were both each priced at about $25 new. $50 was a lot of money for a fishing rig thirty some years ago.
My casting rod has played host to two various reels since it's purchase in that same time frame. Either an Ambassador 5000 or an Abu Matic 290 spincasting reel. It has recently seen use with a Shimano Curado this summer for some lake bass fishing.
Both of these rods are in great shape despite, as I said, heavy use. They've been fished all over the southern states for all kinds of fresh and saltwater fish.
When introduced, they were some of the high end consumer graphite rods. Back in the 1970's, I lived in Houston and had access to pretty decent fishing/firearms/outdoors departments at K-Mart and more expensive (but definately having "the good stuff") Oshman's.
But I thought the coolest fishing/firearms store around back in my mid and late-teens was Gibson's Discount Centers. I don't recall having any of those stores in Houston, but they were as close as Conroe. We traveled Texas a lot back then, whether visiting relatives or sightseeing and taking fishing trips and vacations, and lots of the smaller and medium sized towns had Gibson's.
Gibson's had a superior selection of stuff I could afford. Good Garcia rods ran about $12.00 for a great fiberglass rod in the early 70's. Same with Shakespeare and Daiwa. Other brands too. Classic reels were the Ambassador and the Mitchell 300 and their progeny. In many ways, the Mitchell 300 series is hard to beat even nowadays, from the smallest 300 series ultralight spinning reel to the large, surf fishing version of that series. Just excellent, sturdy instruments. Like the legendary AK-47, they will work and work well in wet and dirty environments.
Gibson's some great firearms, from M-1 carbines to shotguns to deer and .22 rifles. All kinds of pistols too. Although places like Oshman's had quite a few high end pistols in their stores, Gibson's had a better selection of moderately priced pistols that kids like me could convince their parents to buy for them with summer job earnings.
In any event, I bought those Lew's rods while on various visits to relatives. And they've been great ever since. And I miss the heck out of the reasonably priced discount chain, basically a K-Mart but targeted at smaller towns and cities. Although as a rule the Gibson's stores were smaller than many K-marts, the fishing and hunting and outdoors department was just huge. And the prices were crazy reasonable, compared to even other discount stores like K-Mart, and especially to hoity but cool stores like Oshman's.
Once, in the early 90's, I went fishing with a friend named Jerry who had a weekend place on an deep-east Texas river. When I say deep-east Texas, I mean deep "Behind the Pine Curtain".
My friend had one of these high end bass boats with all sorts of fancy electronic devices and live wells and telescoping chairs and all sorts of bells and whistles. When Jerry opened his garage to take me and the other guests skiing and fishing on the river, I saw he had a collection of rods and reels mounted in a custom rack that ran down one entire side of his very large garage/workshop facility.
It was awesome, and one day I hope to build myself a similar rack. Of course, he had the security system and cameras in that garage safeguarding what was several thousands of dollars of fishing gear.
There were easily 50 rod and reel combos mounted on that wall. Each rigged up with different lures and RTG (ready to go). Mostly baitcasting rods but a few spinning rods and a couple of fly rods, along with the mandatory spincasters. About ten of the bait casting reels were mounted on the vintage Lew's Speed Stick, and several of the spinning rods rigged with buzz bait spinners were these great rods as well.
We discussed our mutual admiration for these rods. He's about 20 years older than I am, so he had the means in the 1970's to buy A BUNCH of these great rods back in his younger days since he was working and all grown up. He's held on to them all these years, and although he had lots of high tech rods and reels of other manufacture, it was those Lew's that he said were his "go to" rods for much of his fishing. Jerry knew a good thing when he saw it.
He kept the wide variety rigged and ready so that he could grab appropriate rigs and be on the river in minutes ready to fish with the proper gear. Of course, he had voluminous tackle boxes on that boat, but he did a lot of tournament fishing across Texas and the South in his spare time, and all that gear was justified by the large amount of fish he would catch whenever he went fishing.
So Jerry is still fishing, I suspect, on his favorite stretch of that east Texas river. He grew up near there, and has been fishing that river for many years.
I hope to end up somewhere like that one day. Near a nice river or a creek, perhaps, or maybe on a Texas bay, with an arsenal of Lew's Speed Sticks rigged and ready to go for a variety of fish species in nearby locales.