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2004/154/1 Beach fishing rod, two-piece, 'Beach Beauty', and rod bag , tubular fibreglass / wood / chrome / stainless steel / porcelain / cork / canvas, made by Len Butterworth, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 1970-1975. Click to enlarge.

Fishing rod and bag

Made by Butterworth, Len in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 1970-1975.
This tubular glass beach fishing rod documents the recreational sport of saltwater fishing that has minimal representation in the Museum collection. Its significance comes from its production by Len Butterworth who was the first manufacturer of tubular glass rods in Australia, and use by Mr John Noble, a recreational fresh and saltwater fisherman from the 1960s.

Len Butterworth began producing split cane rods in 1939. An international cane shortage following World War II and the Korean War forced rod-makers to trial fibreglass. A new generation of Australian rod makers began producing quality fibreglass rods to international success.

Robert E Cox was the first Australian to produce a tubular fibreglass rod in 1952, using an imported blank. Len Butterworth was one of the earliest manufacturers of quality fibreglass rods. He began producing solid glass in the late 1950s, and set up the first Australian tubular glass factory in 1976. This rod profiles a well-known name in Australian rod-making, recalls the heyday of local rod manufacturers, and documents the transition from handcrafted split cane rods to fibreglass. The rights to the Len Butterworth name were bought by Jarvis Walker in 1980.

This rod also has the potential to communicate the development and popularity of recreational beach fishing in Sydney and New South Wales, the promotion of NSW as a fishing tourist destination, and weekend and leisure activities.

Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes and sports in Australia, and the NSW coastline renowned for excellent fishing. Beach fishing experienced a resurgence in the 1940s after the war, and again in the 1960s. Today fishing is a major recreational pastime for many Australians. A NSW Fisheries survey of Recreational Fishing in December 2002 estimated there were one million NSW recreational fishers, or 17.1% of the population.

Susan Sedgwick
Curator 2004


Object No.


Object Statement

Beach fishing rod, two-piece, 'Beach Beauty', and rod bag , tubular fibreglass / wood / chrome / stainless steel / porcelain / cork / canvas, made by Len Butterworth, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 1970-1975

Physical Description

Beach fishing rod consisting of a mustard-yellow fibreglass body with wooden butt, cork grip and foregrip, and chrome reel seat used to fit a reel to the rod. The two-piece rod fits together using metal ferrules. The rod gradually tapers to a fine point, and features five stainless steel and porcelain line-guides at incrementally shorter intervals, and a tip-guide. A transfer label on the body of the rod has the text 'Pastime / TUBULAR FIBREGLASS / POWERODS / MADE BY LEN BUTTERWORTH BRISBANE QLD', further along the body is the yellow, cursive text 'Beach Beauty'.

The red canvas rod bag has two internal compartments to store the two halves of the rod. The bag is closed by folding over a canvas flap and tying it shut with two white, cotton ties. The rear of the rod bag has been printed in black, upper case text 'BEACH BEAUTY' using a stencil.



Len Butterworth began his rod-making business around 1939, working from a shed in the backyard of his home at Coorparoo, Brisbane. His first rods were made from Tonkin split cane. Butterworth recalls travelling on the Brisbane trams with the rods wrapped in newspaper under his arms to sell them to shops. An international shortage of bamboo after World War II forced rod-makers to trial fibreglass. Fibreglass is created when fine threads or fibres of glass are bound together by a resin. The first fibreglass rods were solid glass.

Having started his business before the war, Butterworth was in a good position to capitalise on the new material. He opened his first factory, in Stanley Street, Brisbane, producing solid glass rod blanks or runners.

In the early 1960s Butterworth travelled to the USA to see the new material, tubular glass. He began importing tubular blanks from France and America to create Butterworth brand rods for retail sale. At this time no one in Australia produced tubular blanks. In 1976 Len Butterworth and American Dick Snyder built the first tubular glass plant in Australia, manufacturing tubular rods and blanks. Butterworth resigned in 1977, and the rights to the Len Butterworth name were bought by Jarvis Walker in 1980.

This particular model was manufactured between 1965 to 1980, with the chrome reel seat indicating a manufacture date between 1970 and 1975.



This Len Butterworth beach fishing rod was purchased, owned and used by the donor, a recreational fresh and saltwater fisherman from the 1960s. The donor purchased his fishing equipment in Sydney, and remembers this as the first rod that he bought. He used the rod to fish at different New South Wales beaches. The Offshore surf reel may have been used with this rod.


Credit Line

Gift of Mr John Noble, 2004

Acquisition Date

19 November 2004

Cite this Object


Fishing rod and bag 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 31 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Fishing rod and bag |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=31 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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