The Washington Times - August 7, 2008, 11:20AM

Southwick Associates, the outdoor world’s top surveying and polling firm, recently checked on the buying habits and preferences of anglers from every economic strata. It discovered several interesting facts.

For example, among the most skilled fishermen, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik — despite its strength, serviceability and reasonable cost — often is frowned upon as if it is a piece of junk when it isn’t. It’s kind of the step-child of fishing rods if you ask the elite in the world of bass fishing, to name one large group of angling participants.


According to Southwick, however, after surveying a group of 16,258 American sport anglers, the Ugly Stik turned out to be number one. That certainly is nothing to be sneered at.

The most popular fishing reel, amounting to 18.1 percent of all reel purchases, is Shimano. But Shakespeare again comes to the top as concerns rod-and-reel combinations, sold through catalogs, or in large stores, such as Kmart and WalMart. Price obviously mattered.

However, if cost plays a deciding role among users of conventional fishing tackle, the same is not true of fly fishing fans. Of all fly rod purchases, Orvis was number one. Orvis also sold the most fishing flies — and you should know that Orvis is not a bargain basement operation.

What came as no surprise was the popularity of fishing lines that carry the Berkley name. Berkley’s Trilene, FireLine, Big Game and Vanish lines last year amounted to nearly 40 percent of all line sales. That means a lot, considering that there are dozens of line brands offered to many millions of fishing freaks in the U.S. and Canada.

Among bass, walleye and gamefish fans of all stripes, the top hard fishing lure was made by Rapala. The best selling soft bait — and this will tick off Berkley and other soft bait manufacturers — was the Zoom brand. There was no surprise for bass anglers’ spinnerbaits. The Strike King name rated tops. The top hook brand was Gamakatsu, which is not surprising to bass fishermen, but I’d have bet money that name brands like Eagle Claw and Mustad might have been more popular.

What was not surprising was the popularity of Lowrance electronic “fish finders,” more properly known as depth sounders. Lowrance owns the market with 55.5 percent of all the depth recorders sold. Add also the popularity of Plano tackle boxes. Plano sells 50 percent of all the tackleboxes in the U.S.