I get asked this question all the time. And I try to explain it as best I can but generally it falls on deaf ears. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing or what. But I do like Japanese fishing gear better than US Domestic stuff. It could be that I am just tired of seeing the same old thing. Even the “flavor of the month” brought to us via corporate marketing juggernauts seems lame anymore. I don’t see a lot of innovation outside of anything that is not Bass Fishing related. Even in fly fishing…we are beat over the head by “Influencers” or other “Cool Kids” telling us what to buy and use while fishing ultra-exotic destinations most of us will never go to. And true, there is some of that in Japan, but I see a lot more innovation and craftsmanship in all aspects of fishing.
Take the Abu Garcia Cardinal 3 image at the header. This is a VERY popular reel in Japan complete with an entire cottage industry surrounding and supporting it. This goes for the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 2500 and 1500 baitcast reels as well. I have seen the Cardinal 3 go for over $1250 USD for a completely upgraded reel. I’m sure they go higher than that!
The Japanese anglers love quality and it shows in their gear selection. But at the same time they like to individualize/personalize key components of their gear.
You can find a plethora of handmade nets in various niche tackle shops that are found all over the country. Crafted with care, attention to detail and soul. I like that and can appreciate that.
When selecting fishing vests you might be surprised that the Filson Fishing vest is wildly popular in Japan.
It is an interesting blend of high tech and old school. Handcrafted wood handle knobs for the latest Shimano Stella reel, your choice of fiberglass, bamboo or graphite for a rod blank, custom thread choices and hand selected handle options. When was the last time you saw a bamboo spinning rod? Some things shouldn’t be built to a price point!
Lures and lure design are another facet of the Japanese. They aren’t afraid to make wild designs or material choices. All of which piques my curiosity.
I could go “on and on” about this topic but I won’t. I already feel like I’ve beaten the proverbial dead horse, and I’m not trying to convince anyone to switch to Japanese gear. I’m just saying there is a whole new world out there for anyone who is curious about this subject. It will take some research, some serious digging and a lot of translating…but it’s worth it. Cheers!