History Of Beep Beep Fishing Rod Holders

Credit for this post goes to Old Man Dan.

I can provide definitive information to any questions about Beep Beep rod holders, because I probably made the Beep Beep in question.

In the mid to late 1960’s, my dad bought the patent and manufacturing equipment for the Beep Beep from the original inventor, who was from Spearfish. For about the next 6-8 years, my family handmade Beep Beeps. They were distributed by the company my dad started for that purpose, Prairie Products, the address for which was my family home just outside Rapid City.

We manufactured the units starting from 16 ga steel sheet metal, strap, and 1-1/4″ galvanized pipe. The alarm was a Royce Union bicycle horn powered by one D-cell battery. We painted the main steel parts with “International Harvester Red” enamel. All six members of my family helped make them, from my youngest brother, who at first was maybe six years old, to me as oldest kid around age 12, to my mom and dad. By the time I was in my early teens, I ran the punch presses, roll press, saws, and welder for making the unit’s two main parts. The whole family would work the assembly line to build and box the final product.

We made 1000-1500 of them per year. One of our biggest buyers was Berns Wholesale Sporting Goods in Denver. My dad sold them to Berns for $2.70 each. Retailers sold them for $4.99. It was a hell of a lot of work for $2.70. The only way it could be done at a profit was with “free” labor; my brothers and I lost most of our weekends making Beep Beeps. But we had a roof over our heads and food on the table, and we learned how to work hard. By the time I was part way through high school it was clear I was going on to bigger and better things, and there was no way the family could still make and sell them for $2.70 without me. So dad sold the business to a guy who never got it up and running, and that was the end of the Beep Beep.

Beep Beeps worked great. One evening on a family fishing trip to Oahe, my brother and I set up 5-6 poles in Beep Beeps, then bivy’d on the shore. In the middle of the night, the Beep Beeps started going off, sometimes several at once. We were running up and down the shoreline reeling in catfish, walleyes, and northerns. I’ll never forget the sight of poles bent hard against the fight of a heavy fish, their Beep Beeps howling like crazy. It was a blast.

For anyone wanting to put a Beep Beep back in service, after so many years they might need some adjustments. If it doesn’t beep loudly or at a good pitch, there’s a tuning **** with lock nut on the horn inside the chrome case. Tuning the horn was my mom’s job on the assembly line, the last step before the unit went into its box. Also, the sensitivity is adjusted with the wing nut that tensions a spring. Use more tension for a longer rod or a big minnow or a windy day.

Another interesting fact: Our family business Prairie Products owned the trademark on the name “Beep Beep”. In the late ’60’s Plymouth started calling its legendary Roadrunner muscle car the “beep beep bird” (alluding to the roadrunner and coyote cartoon). I remember the ads on TV. My dad protested, and Plymouth quit doing it. If anyone does actually use one sometime, I’d enjoy hearing about it!

Images posted by Dave

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

8 Comments:

  • timmy: this was a good read. never seen or heard a beep beep. but now i’m going to be keeping an eye out for one...
  • Reelcrazee: I have been on the look out for one myself. I agree this is a great blog with history, so thank you for posting! I have to say I understand the part about earning your keep. I was raised on a farm and appreciated a warm meal and a warm place to sleep. It made me feel good that I could help my family........and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As far as all of those beep beep’s going off at once, that had to be over the top with excitement!!
  • Chad B.: Good lord guys, I found one of these all rusted to heck years ago, in a box of junk my grandfather had bought in an auction house in Grand Island Ne. the darn thing was in pretty rough shape, it didn’t beep anymore, that’s for sure, the rod holder got hauled away with scrap metal. Its the only one I’d ever saw!
  • timmy: your right Vale, that one and another one i found that is not in as good of shape, are both early examples made by the original manufacturer in spearfish.
  • Vale: Timmy, it doesn’t seem like there are many out there! I did find one other post here where the guest found 2 in an estate sale - https://www.fishingtalks.com/beep-beep-pole-holder-59511.html
  • Old Man Dan: Thank you Vale and Dave for publishing this web page on the Beep Beep. My dad, rest his soul, would have been delighted. Regards, Dan
  • Vale: Thank you for sharing your story with us!

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