Sweet tests the original prototype Torsa 16N with a BFS 50 cam fishing
with 40lbs of drag at full (standup with no belt or Huki) on a Trevala
66MH and a 270 Butterfly jig. He landed a 80lb Amberjack!
One day before
the upcoming Bassmaster Classic TackleTour had the opportunity to sit down
with Jeremy Sweet, Shimano's Reel Product Manager, to talk about life at
Shimano, and the company's direction in reel development.
Zander: Thanks for
sitting down with me. Lets start with yourself, what does a normal day at
Shimano entail for you?
Sweet: Depends on which day! In the office, I run reports and analyze data,
come up with ideas, inspect products, adjust development plans, etc. Also,
a significant amount of my time is devoted to travel. Whether it be
meetings in Japan or Malaysia where we manufacture reels in our own
factories, attending Trade or Consumer shows to promote our products and
answer technical questions, to visiting dealers to see what is going on at
ground level of our market, to getting on the water to test new products,
experience new techniques or try to find what we can make better.
Zander: What is the most exciting/rewarding component of your job?
Sweet: Definitely the fishing! Well, actually fishing with a prototype
reel that I have spent 2-3 years working on and seeing it finally come to
Zander: What would you say makes Shimano different or unique from the
Sweet: Again, I need to focus on fishing. Everyone at Shimano fishes.
Including our engineers overseas. Because of this there is a genuine
excitement and passion surrounding each and every product. This shows in
the quality, performance and innovative features on every single one of our
products. If we don’t enjoy fishing with it, then we don’t make it.
Zander: How have reels in general evolved over the last 3 years, what is
driving the innovation? The manufacturers or the demand form the
Sweet: Wow, that is a really open-ended question. It would really
depend. Certain items, like the Calcutta TE DC, came from both application
and manufacturer needs/capabilities. We were able to build it, but only
because we saw the need. Other items, like Torsa, come directly from
applications. From the base of a high speed, high power leverdrag which did
not exist to the technique specific Rapid Fire Quick Change Drag Cam system,
everything on that reel has a purpose based upon applications and the needs
of the angler. Overall, I would actually say that the needs of the angler,
and what helps them to catch fish and have a better on the water experience
really drives innovation versus manufacturers.
Gant, Shimano's Rod Product Manager holds up a Yellowfin as Jeremy
continues to do battle with another with a Tyrnos 30II prototype
Zander: If you could
only pick one saltwater and one freshwater reel in your lineup that you are
most excited about what would you choose, and why?
You’ll have to wait until ICAST in July 2006! As far as existing in our
lineup, it is difficult to pick favorites. The obvious choice would be
Torsa in saltwater. Torsa because it is so powerful, fast, castable and
easy to use. It is amazing to fish with. When you hook up to a big fish,
it is unbelievable how much control you have over the situation with a small
reel. However, the most exciting recently in saltwater has to be the Tyrnos
2-Speeds. I got to experience a high speed, 2-Speed leverdrag in its
environment. We took the prototypes to Puerto Vallarta and caught Yellowfin
Tuna over 200 pounds on the TYR30II while stand up fishing. As most readers
will know, a 30 is generally considered small for that grade of tuna, but
the Tyrnos performed admirably! The drags were incredible as was the power
when fighting straight up and down.
For freshwater, right now the Curado DSHV is my choice. That 7.0:1 gear
ratio is an awesome thing to fish slack line baits with (Personally I have
been using it when fishing Ikas downhill.) Line pick with fish moving
power! Of course, I still love fishing with the CTE DC and the Chronarch B.
Zander: In your opinion are we nearing the peak of reel performance, or
is the best yet to come? Shimano always seems to be on forefront when it
comes to merging electronic technology into reel designs, like the Calcutta
DC for example, is this trend towards integration of electronics something
we can expect to see more of?
Sweet: Again, see you at ICAST! Zander:
Zander: Ok, Moving on then...Sometimes early adopters and enthusiasts here
in the US yearn for products first released in Japan, and some models are
only offered in lefty versions overseas (ex. Conquest 101DC), but recently
we have seen increasing introductions here in the US (ex. Chronarch B,
Torsa) can we expect more reels to make their debut in here?
Sweet: Definitely. When we
propose a product to the factory that is specific to the US market, it will
always debut here first. However, Shimano is a global company, and unlike
rods, many of our reels have applications in other countries. Therefore,
there will always be commonality between many of our reels and those sold in
Japan, Europe and Australia. But we also must weigh certain differences,
and that is why you will see small spec differences between a US reel and
one sold in Japan. There is a common misconception that the Japan reels are
better and that Shimano is holding back the best for Japan. This is simply
untrue. Take Chronarch B for example. It is slightly heavier than the
Japanese Metanium. This is because we are using a heavier alloy in the
gears for durability. The fish in the US market are stronger, and the US
angler is tougher on tackle. The 2nd reason is that we elected
to use Ion Plating for the finish, once again for durability. It is much
more scratch and impact resistant than paint.
and Robby hold up twin 200lb Yellowfin caught with prototype Tyrnos
Zander: We are seeing a
growing following of “Tackle Enthusiasts”
that are equally as
interested in the “tackle” as the actual “sport of fishing,” do you
purposely design products that speak to this niche market?
Sweet: Yes and no. While
the enthusiast is generally a higher end market, and yes while we make
products that they purchase I do not think we design a product and toss
features into it just to command a premium and sell it as an ultra high end
reel for collectors. Once again, if a feature makes fishing more enjoyable
or provides a performance advantage on the water, then we will build it. If
we don’t enjoy fishing with it, we won’t make it.
Zander: Fair enough. So
what can we expect to see from Shimano reels this season?
We have already introduced
a couple. The Tyrnos 2-Speeds and Tekota 300’s. Does that mean we are
done? Absolutely not. We have some VERY exciting products coming at ICAST
Zander: Looks like its
going to be one heck of a ICAST show in Vegas this year, until then is there
anything else you would like to say to TackleTour readers?
Thank you all for your valuable input. I read the message boards on
TackleTour at least once per week just to keep my finger on the pulse of
your readers. While we do not limit our research to the internet, it has
developed into a valuable tool over that last several years. These online
enthusiasts have a high level of technical knowledge and don’t hold back
with their comments if they are positive or negative. Feedback, such as
theirs, is crucial to developing better performing products that meet the
needs of all anglers.
TackleTour would like to thank Jeremy Sweet for making time out of his busy
daily schedule to talk with us, and answer questions for the TT community.