Fishing tackle is my life. I love looking at it. I love shopping for it. I love designing it. I love fishing with it. Right now, though, it seems like everything is out of stock. Let’s take an inside look at why.
We’ll start with the obvious. The global pandemic drove a record number of people to participate in the sport of fishing. That’s a great thing for any number of reasons. Newcomers are up but experienced anglers are fishing more than usual too. This has created an increase in demand for fishing lures, rods, reels, terminal tackle and just about anything else you need, or think you need, to fish. In short: Demand is through the roof.
Demand is up for higher-dollar items like boats and motors too. Inventory is low and order times are long.
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up. Domestic manufacturers of all kinds of fishing products had a hiccup when their employees were not allowed into crowded manufacturing facilities. This put many behind at least a month just trying to get started.
International manufacturers had similar issues, but they also had an additional issue. Many ports and import destinations had even longer shutdowns, and not just in the United States. It was all over the world.
The labor factor was (and is) especially hard on lures. Many people were, and still are, reluctant to come back to their job, especially if it’s in a factory. Of course, that’s not only in the fishing industry. Meat plants, restaurants, construction projects, amusement parks and everything else have been affected. The reasons for this situation are debatable and get political. But we’re talking about the practical effects on the fishing industry here so I’m not going to get into anything else.
Components are the last thing I want to mention, and they’re a major issue. If you want to build a jig, you need the hook that’s designed for it. Lead, paint and dressings don’t do anything for you without a hook.
If you can’t get that hook, you can’t build the jig. That holds true for every component that goes into making any lure, and let me tell you many components are in short supply. It’s a real and serious challenge.
At Missile Baits we tried to get ahead of the supply issue in the middle of 2020. I ordered very heavy every month throughout the year. As of right now, we’re flush with soft plastics. Our jig manufacturing is still behind, but we’re getting caught up and are close to meeting current demand. I’m also adding another source for components that will help everything.
All of our products are made here in the U.S.A. Many other companies in the fishing industry order components and inventory from overseas. Their turnaround times are a lot longer, and they rely on long-term forecasts to bring in the proper amount of inventory. Both of those things can create problems.
And, almost every rod and reel manufacturer is selling everything they can get. Recently, one major rod and reel company even had about half of a large shipment fall off a cargo ship in a bad storm and sink into the ocean.
However, companies like Cashion Rods make their products in America — North Carolina — so that’s not so much of a problem. They’re doing much better but still have some issues like everyone else right now.
Another thing is that as a result of the manufacturing and supply problems there’ll be fewer new products coming out this year. It’s simple: If a company can’t keep up with demand for what they already make, how can they come out with a new product?
Because Missile Baits got ahead of the plastics supply issue we’ll have a new product to showcase at ICAST in July. And, we expect to have a new jig out in the fall. I’d expect to see similar releases on a similar schedule with electronics, rods, reels, terminal tackle, boats, motors and everything else.
Overall, it’s a matter of dealing with things in the real world of 2021. All we can do is fish with what we have — most of us have more than enough — and wait for this thing to work itself out. Hopefully, that won’t be too far into the future.