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Rod Preview : First Impressions



Fenwick is Back! A First Look at the Completely Refreshed Lineup from Eagle to World Class


Date: 6/15/23
Tackle Type: Rods
Manufacturer: Fenwick
Reviewer: Zander

Fenwick is a brand that many of us grew up fishing and was responsible for numerous rod innovations that forever changed bass fishing. As the industry matured many domestic and international rod competitors caught up with, or surpassed, Fenwick’s recent offerings in terms of design, technology, and performance. This coming ICAST Fenwick is looking to rectify this with a complete refresh of their entire lineup, getting back to their legacy of innovation, and re-introducing the brand to both loyal fans and a new generation of anglers.


Fenwick will refresh all four lines this ICAST including World Class, Elite, HMG, and Eagle rods


Fenwick, a brand we grew up with: When I first started fishing years ago Fenwick was already a prominent brand among anglers. The name “Fenwick” comes from a lake located near Kent in Washington State. It was there that a group of anglers in the early 1950’s started developing rods in a garage at a friend’s home. I often joke that there is something in the water in Washington as so many famous American rod companies are born there, including brands like G.Loomis, Lamiglas, and Fenwick.


Fenwick HMG and World Class branded rods have a long history and a legacy to live up to


In 1960 Phil Clock purchased Fenwick and took things to the next level as talented rod engineer Don Green and Clock developed some of the first rods specifically for competitive bass anglers. The brand developed a more mainstream following as their reputation for quality bass rods grew, which only added to their popular offerings in fly, spinning, and saltwater rods. It was during this time that Fenwick became a dominant player in the US fishing rod market, and they turned their attention to new materials to improve on the fiberglass rods that were so popular at the time.


Fenwick has put a lot of emphasis on ergonomics on this refresh and the attention to detail in their sculpted grips and handles is seamless


The opportunity to make a major leap came in the 70’s with advances in new graphite materials. Rod builders found that they could make rods that were both lighter and stronger than fiberglass, and with that extra stiffness came much improved sensitivity.



Even value oriented Eagle rods look and feel higher end


In 1973 Fenwick became the first manufacturer to introduce an all-graphite fishing rod, the HMG line. HMG stood for “High Modulus Graphite” and the brand soon became synonymous with both performance and sensitivity. It was among the biggest leaps in rod performance the industry has ever seen. The use of graphite would not only revolutionize the method of making fishing rods but also forever change what anglers expected in their rods and how they fished them.


One of the biggest improvements comes in the new proprietary reel seats


Over the next decade, the company developed new application specific rods, including famous products like the Fenwick Flippin Stick™, which helped introduce more techniques to anglers. In 1988 Berkley acquired Fenwick and has continued to expand and develop the line. Over the last two and a half years the company has been investing heavily in refreshing the entire product portfolio, and this ICAST the Fenwick brand will undergo their biggest refresh in history with the rollout of over 260 new rods and a complete update of World Class, Elite, HMG, and Eagle lineups.


In Need of an Overhaul: When the team at Pure Fishing first told me about a major refresh my first thought was “about time.” While I still had fond memories of fishing Fenwick rods in the early 90’s the fact was that over the last two decades the competition has not only caught up, but surpassed Fenwick’s offerings in terms of design and performance.


The current Fenwick lineup (2022 Season) doesn't look like a family. In order to drive improvements and consistency throughout the entire family Fenwick made the tough decision to refresh everything


I remember there was a point when I started putting my Fenwick rods aside and found myself preferring to fish other competing brands, including G.Loomis, St. Croix, and more recently Megabass. The current Fenwick rods have odd feeling ergonomics, cheap feeling components, and sub-optimal balance. Perhaps most of all they just do not look or feel like a cohesive family of rods with the variety of colors, handle layouts, and inconsistent styling.


The new Fenwick lineup is much more refined and now looks like a unified family of rods


It may sound harsh but simply put the current products just do not live up to the competing offerings, or the legacy of the Fenwick brand. In my opinion, these rods needed a substantial overhaul to be relevant again. Many of Pure Fishing’s other brands have continued to advance and better cater to today’s anglers, including the company’s own Abu Garcia lineup and the top selling Ugly Stik Series which does a great job catering to value and mainstream anglers. The question in my mind was where Fenwick would play in the company’s portfolio and in today’s highly competitive market of global brands.  


Two well know individuals in the rod building industry, Justin Poe and Dave Brinkerhoff helped drive this refresh

Next Section: Building a team to build a better rod 









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