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THE PASSING OF A FISHING TACKLE ICON

The tackle industry mourns the loss of one its leading innovators, Louis Feldsott, who was still presiding over the Folsom Corporation at the age of 102.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  December 19, 2017
THE PASSING OF A FISHING TACKLE ICON
Chances are that when your dad or uncle bought their first fishing outfit it had its beginning at Lou Feldsott's New Jersey tackle warehouse, same as the ones you're buying today.

Louis Feldsott, president of the Folsom Corporation, passed away on November 28. At 102, he was still presiding over Folsom and its growth in the sportfishing industry.

Born in 1915, Feldsott, who was one of six children, moved from Carbondale, PA to New York with his sister Lena when he was 18, and started his journey in the business world at Gimbels. By 1942, he was running Universal Fishing tackle.

In 1954, Universal purchased H&D Folsom Arms Company — a sporting goods distributor that had been around since before the American Civil War. As president, Feldsott changed the name of the operation to “Folsom Corporation” and gradually shifted the business into segments covering fishing tackle, hunting, sports optics, outdoor and sports apparel and licensed outdoor products.

Under his leadership, Folsom became one the preeminent distributors of fishing equipment the world over.

Still privately-owned and family-operated and based out of Mahwah, NJ, Folsom Corporation is now led by Feldsott’s sons, Edward and Robert, who serve as co-chief operating officers. They began to take over the day to day operations in the 1990s, though their father remained a daily presence in the office.

“My father was still driving 45 minutes to come into the office at the age of 98,” Ed recently told Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine. “And he was in the office almost every day up until the week before he passed. He loved the business, and he loved the fishing industry.”

“He loved family, he loved work and he loved fishing,” Ed said of his father’s three loves, adding “For him, business was thrilling, but he also took fishing very seriously and had a passion for sailfish, king mackerel and bluefish.”

The Feldsott family’s passion for recreational fishing is evident throughout the Folsom Corporation, particularly in the staff’s ongoing dedication to the angling community. What started out decades ago as a wholesale distribution company to provide tackle shops and outfitters with a direct link to major manufacturers has since spawned some of the most popular, cutting-edge brands in the global fishing market today including Tsunami, Bimini Bay, and Maxel.

“Lou had the vision to see what the next new advancement was and supported those companies early on,” said Nick Cicero, sales manager for the Folsom Corporation. “When he started we were fishing with leather thumb stall conventional reels, Montague split bamboo rods - which by the way Lou owned - fitted with nickel silver fittings and red Aget guide rings filled with linen lines that needed a freshwater bath and careful drying after each outing.”

During the 20th century sportfishing revolution, hard rubber side plated casting reels would give way to the early European spinning gear sold to most every mass merchant on the east coast, most of which moving through the Folsom corporation. Then came the first nylon braided lines after WWII, and later monofilament to eventually be topped by micro braids that most every new angler today takes for granted.

“Lou’s tenure spanned the history of modern fishing tackle,” said Cicero, adding “He was part of every innovation we now recognize in modern tackle from the era of wooden rods to fiberglass, to early carbon fiber and now Nano technology compositions.”

“Chances are that when your dad or uncle bought their first fishing outfit it had its beginning at a Folsom warehouse,” Cicero added.

Louis Feldsott is survived by Doris, his wife of 63 years, his sons Ed (wife Eileen) and Bob (wife Irene) and grandchildren Allison, Benjamin, Lexi and MaryKate.