Zebco might just be synonymous with “the American rod and reel.” They’ve been quoted in too many country songs to name and are one of the biggest manufacturers of casting rods and reels in the United States. Zebco got started around 1949 when a man named R.D. Hull had an idea for the world’s first “spincast” reel and went to the Zero Hour Bomb Company to help him manufacture it. Fast forward to 1956, the company officially changes their name to Zebco and they explode in sales. They moved into their headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966 where they are still located. Today, they make rods and reels for both spincasting and traditional spinning setups. But are they still manufacturing all of their rods and reels in Tulsa? We dug in to find out – our verdict is below.
Verdict: Are Zebco Rods and Reels Made in the USA?
No, Zebco reels and rods are no longer made in the USA. Zebco moved manufacturing around 2001 from their Tulsa, OK headquarters to China.
While not incredibly surprising, we are still disappointed to see the classic American reel move their production overseas – especially since they promote “America’s favorite reel” on the packaging of the Zebco 33. Zebco fishing tackle operates in the budget part of the market, so when international competitors started copying their spincast design and plummeted prices, it was tough to keep profitable production in the United States. Zebco lost an estimated 40% of their spincast market share between 1995 and 2000 when Chinese competitors aggressively entered into the budget fishing tackle market.
About 300 people were working at their plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma when they decided to pull the plug around the turn of the century.
Below are some good made in the USA alternatives. Also be sure to watch our YouTube video on the best fishing tackle brands made in the USA.
Popular American Made Zebco Products
Popular Zebco Products Not Made in the USA
- Zebco 33 Spincast Reel
- SPYN Reel
- Zebco 33 Micro Triggerspin Reel
- Rhino Casting Rods
- Rhino Tough Rods
- Bullet Combo