It all started 112 years ago when tool and die maker Rufus Gibbs of Vancouver began making fishing lures under the name Gibbs Fishing Tackle. In 1968 the company was sold to George Whatley of Kamloops, BC. An inventor of well known and very productive lures the Koho and Kit-A-Mat. George was the owner of Northwest Tackle Company, he also acquired Clendon Metal & Stamping Works eventually merging into Gibbs/Nortac.
Whatley like Gibbs was a fisherman who was always trying to improve his catch rates, he would dive underwater to inspect the action and color. He was always consulting with anglers looking for feedback on how to improve his lures. By the late ’80s, George Whatley was ready for the next chapter in the long history of Gibbs. In 1989 Gibbs/Nortac was sold to Syd Pallester grandson of the legendary fishing lure manufacturer Len Thompson.
Under the leadership of Syd, Gibbs began to expand adding what now is considered some of the go-to lures for many species across North America. Notably, the Hockey Stick, Floorwalker, Mudraker, Willow Leaf Troll, Gypsy Spoons, Kokanee Troll and one of my favorite steelhead spoons the Ironhead. I recall when Syd first asked if I was interested in product development and testing. I was thrilled by the offer and was proud to be part of the long history and contribution Gibbs/Nortac had made to the fishing tackle industry.
In the Fall of 1999, I began writing field test reports for Syd Pallister and Gibbs/Nortac, using and testing some of the best lures ever designed for our west coast salmon, trout and steelhead fisheries. Syd, like his predecessors, was proactive and believed strongly in engaging local anglers for feedback and product design. All lures were handmade right in the factory in Delta so making changes, adding new colors and tweaking actions was not complicated and done very easily on-site. Some of the lures that you might recognize include Croc, Koho, Ironhead, Ultra lure, and Gypsy to name a few. To this day, lures are still hand made in the factory in Delta.
From 1989 to 2009 Syd and Gibbs/Nortac added many new lines of products that helped diversify the company. They included fishing nets of all sizes and shapes, Highliner flashers, Halibut rigs, long pole gaffs, lead weights, harpoons for retaining Halibut and the list goes on. In 2009 Gibbs/Nortac partnered with Rob Alcock & Delta Tackle to add another completely new line of plastic and synthetic products. Ever used a Gooey Bob while steelhead fishing, a Hali Hawg when Halibut fishing, or a Delta Mini Squid when salmon fishing? Well if you have, you are already familiar with the Delta Tackle brand.
Rob and Syd joined forces and Gibbs/Nortac and Delta Tackle joined to form what is now known as Gibbs Delta Tackle. During this time period, they added a few more brands which include; Ok’i, Rhys Davis, Zak Tackle and became the Canadian Distributors of Silver Horde and Yamashita products. Syd Pallister retired in 2015 and Rob Alcock is continuing to move the company forward into the next generation.
Rob like Syd, Whatley, and Rufus is forward-thinking, progressive and hard-working. Adding new products and brands and growing Gibbs Delta into one of the biggest and best fishing tackle companies in Canada. Adding Michigan Stinger to the already stacked brands will not only take Gibbs Delta into the future but introduce this pure Canadian brand to the rest of the Country.
The one thing that stands out is the long-running relationship that Rob and Gibbs Delta Tackle have with local anglers and guide companies. They are open to suggestions, changes, and improvements and are always looking for the next best product to help you put more fish on the line. They are one of the first companies that I know of to create a full line of Flashers and Lures named after local pro guides and their Companies and I am proud to have been chosen as one of them with the New Guide Series Flashers the STS, named after our company STS Guiding Service.
For the Great Lakes, the Oki Kingfisher Flashers and Michigan Stinger Spoons will continue to dominate the market but keep your eyes on the prize as Gibbs Delta Tackle will surely shake things up when they begin introducing some of their very popular west coast series of spoons and flashers.
If you’re not already a fan of Michigan Stinger, I would suggest taking a closer look at your fishing tackle box. Anglers in the east are in for a treat, over the next year I would expect that anglers will begin seeing more of Michigan Stinger and Gibbs Delta in their local fishing tackle stores and sportsman show events. Specifically, watch for the NEW “Stinger” series Kingfisher Flashers and a whole new flasher design coming your way.
If you’re an avid user of Michigan Stinger you should be excited about the future and hey, don’t be afraid to send them an e-mail with suggestions on how to improve, I’m sure they will appreciate your feedback and input.