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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Pocket Fisherman and other fishing poles gone amuck!

If you are like me, when you were a kid you watched this commercial daily.... The Ronco ( Ron Popeil) Pocket Fisherman.

This brought a smile to my face while surfing the net and coming across an ad for one of them.
I was surprised to find that The Pocket Fisherman is still sold today!
I thought it would be funny to connect with a piece of my childhood, so I found a vintage outfit still in the box with its instructions and side holster bag... after all, I collect vintage tackle and lures.

Attached is my breakdown of this piece of fishing history, as well as some other "not so successful" attempts to reproduce a similar product (to be discussed later)
I'll start with the box:

The front of the box, showing the 70's icon.

The rear of the box, lets you know its as easy as 1,2,3!
Draw like a cowboy, Hide behind the PF, and thirdly, get a kid to hold the net.

I scanned the manual... always fun to see these instructions and breakdown of the PF.

If you actually take a moment to mess with the pocket fisherman you realize that it is actually made pretty well. These are durable although the rod portion always made me nervous with its click in place rod backing. The pocket fisherman casts pretty easy and goes far for a itty-bitty rod. From shore it is a little clumsy and stupid, but from a boat it can be wonderful.

Mechanically, the PF is of average or better quality than most things you buy today. The reel crank is metal and the storage "clip" on the handle is a witty engineering feat! I took a long look at the clip and found it to be a solid engineering solution for flipping out and locking a handle in place. In fact, I do not think today's companies would take the expense of making such a good metal crank.
Bottom line is that although laughable, the Pocket Fisherman is functional and part of our fishing history.
For those of us raised in the 70's, it is like connecting with an dopey old friend.

Speaking of dopey... let see some of the the other so-called fishing novelties that followed the Pocket Fisherman. While I have not seen these others and I do not have a relationship with these others, It seems that simply reading about others experiences will suffice.

How about this abortion: The Coleman "Fish Pen"

It brags about "Reel in looks of amazement from your fellow fishermen and friends! " They will be amazed that you even bought one!
Now, not to be cynical, but some of the fine print mentions that "product narratives are for entertainment purposes" aside from catching pan-fish, sunfish, or blue gill, I believe this to be something to goof on and play with...not something to fish with.
Positive note: This product does contain metal.... not entirely plastic like this next novelty fishing set up that I am going to SLAM!

This next one was actually endorsed by Roland Martin, who apparently will lend his name to anything as long as it has the possibility of sending a check his way. I am talking about the Rocket Fishing Rod.

Really? Plastic abortion of a fishing rod for fat kids who cant even muster the energy to cast a lure!

One review I read from a disgruntled father says that he bought one and opened it and the whole contraptions fell apart in his hands.... Be brought it back and opened the new one in the store and it "seemed" ok.... He took his kid fishing and on the first Faux-cast the springs and everything shot out of the thing. A complete piece of crap with Roland's name attached to it.

Personally, I would be embarrassed if I were Roland and distance myself as far as I could from this junk.
In short, I do not believe anyone has been able to repeat the success of the Pocket Fisherman.
Although dumb and laughable it is a decent item and a piece of our fishing history.