There is more to Shimano than just reels and rods, just ask
Manager Gear & Accessories, Shimano|
Meet Ted Sakai Fishing
Gear and Accessory Product Manager for Shimano
It wasn't long ago that Shimano completely revamped their
accessories lineup, and a new style of fishing was introduced to US anglers with
Butterfly Jigging system. Key to all these new products is Shimano Accessory
Product Manager Ted Sakai. After getting to know Ted on a trip to El Salto I
learned how passionate he was about both fishing and gear, and decided
it was time to find out more about the other side of Shimano.
The following are excerpts from
Ted, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me. Let’s start with your
background and your current role here at Shimano. How did you get into the
tackle industry and what are you responsible for here at Shimano?
Your welcome and thank
It has been
a long time since I first got into the tackle business. I originally came to US back in
1992 to establish sales for a Japanese industrial OEM manufacturer, at that time
I was strictly a weekend fisherman. After 7 years being in US, I received an
offer from Japanese fishing lure company here in California for an opportunity
to help start up their business. After 4 years with that company, I learned that
Shimano was expanding their gear and accessory business, at which time I
immediately jumped on that opportunity. That is how I got involved in fishing
industry. My current role in Shimano is as a Product Manager for fishing gear
and accessories, which basically means everything outside of rods and reels.
The Bristol Bay
portable livewell bag is designed specifically for the growing kayak
What makes a Shimano bag special and any different than any other
Before I took this position at Shimano, Shimano’s tackle bag business was
handled by business licensee whose goal was pursuing mass business for sales
volumes. Today, our goal has shifted to provide unique and innovative products
for a wide range of fishing applications.
Zander: Do the
bags for the US market get thought up here or in Japan, can you walk us through
how a bag makes it from an idea to a real product, is there a lot of field
Shimano tackle bags available in US market are never an import of what is
available in Japan. Our strategy of designing tackle management is shifting from
making bags to carry tackle boxes to what is required for specific fishing
applications. For example, when people started throwing big swim baits like
those from Osprey or Castaic for largemouth bass, we came up with Broadway Lure
Storage Bag for storing those big baits horizontally without causing damage to
their soft tails.
Ted was responsible
for introducing the Butterfly Jigs to the US
Zander: We are
seeing a lot of growth in the Kayak fishing market, are you offering anything
specific for kayak anglers?
T. Sakai: At
ICAST’07, we received “The Best of Tackle Management Award” with “Bristol Bay
Portable Live-well Bag”. This product is specially designed for Kayak fisherman
with ideas inputted by Jim Sammons of La Jolla Kayak Fishing. Kayak fishing is
no longer just a enjoyable experience, but is now true sportfishing in every
sense of the word, and a lot of catch-and-release tournaments are held
throughout the US. The Bristol Bay Portable Live-well bag can keep both your
bait or catch alive by circulating water through the bag via a bilge pump.
The Baysteel saltwater
multi tool was designed to complement the Butterfly Jigging system
Specialized tools are not something we would have expected out of Shimano, we
have all seen traditional pliers branded by many manufacturers but when you came
out with the Baysteel series we saw a tool designed for a very particular
angling application. Can you tell us more about how Baysteel was born, and if we
expect more specialized offerings?
The Baysteel Multi-tool was born to satisfy needs that arose with Butterfly
jigging system. When we came out with Butterfly jigging system, it simply
needed a new style of tool that could cut spectra braided line and open large
heavy split rings, all in one tool. None of the other tools in the market
today do both these jobs. I am currently working on a new higher-end of Baysteel Multi-tool for the next year so stay tuned.
Ted with a El Salto
bass at the debut of the Cumara fishing rods
talk about Butterfly Jigs. I know that you were very involved in the entire
Butterfly system, has the response from anglers been what you expected, and is
there anything new we can expect from the lineup?
Yes, I was heavily involved in this project. The market reaction to the
introduction of Butterfly jigging system has far exceeding than what we
expected. In fact we had severe delivery problems in the first year due to
surpassed demand from all over the US. I was very surprised to see how Shimano
could influence fishing market as a whole. Last year, we developed and
introduced Butterfly Flat-side jigs which were created to satisfy the
requirements of US private boaters, and it is now becoming the hottest jig in
Northeast tuna jigging market. Today, the word “Butterfly jigging" has become
synonymous with the new vertical jigging technique with swinging hooks in the
front eye of jigs. I was very pleased to be a part of promoting this innovative
fishing technique in the US market. Anglers can also expect more sizes and new
colors in 2008 in the butterfly jigging system.
The Evair fishing boat
deck boots are both lightweight and 100% waterproof
have also been working on new clothing, and perhaps most interesting fishing
boots and sandals. Can you tell us more about the Evair lineup, and why Shimano
is moving into this area?
T. Sakai: Well, did you know Shimano is the
manufacturer of Bicycle shoes in the world? So why not in the fishing
market? If you fish out of your own boat or if you are not the deckhand of
party boat, you have no reason to wear heavy rubber boots. If you wear sneakers,
you get wet and your fishing is pretty much done for the day. That is why we
came out with Evair fishing boots.
addition is the Evair sandals which have also been well received by our dealers
for both saltwater and freshwater applications.
Ted catches a Calico
bass while testing the butterfly jigs
would imagine that during the holiday season accessories like these would be
popular gifts among anglers, is there any product in particular that has really
done exceptionally well?
T. Sakai: Oh
boy, there are a lot of offerings right now. Starting with the
Tackle Storage System. All the Broadway tackle bags come in an individual color
box which can be a great gift idea for holiday seasons.
or sandals are also a good gift idea for the upcoming fishing season. We also
offer high quality hats and visor, with quality features like breathable mesh
fabric with A-Flex head band.
let’s have some fun and talk about you. How often do you get to go fishing, and
what type of fishing do you most enjoy?
Shimano's newest shoe
is the Evair marine fishing sandals which are designed to be
lightweight and still able to absorb heel shock and reduce foot
fatigue from all day fishing
T. Sakai: I go fishing as much as I can and every weekend for sure
on my own boat. Butterfly jigging is my favorite type of saltwater fishing and I
typically pursue both local bass and yellows.
Do you have a
favorite rod and reel’s
T. Sakai: Whatever Shimano makes.
Since I am
jigging fisherman, I like Trevala rods and Stella 8000 reels for local jigging.
Need a bag for your
big saltwater reels? Shimano introduces the Broadway saltwater reel
bag which features an extremely heavy duty weather proof material
and Intercept technology™
to protect reels from corrosion, rust, and mildew
I guess should have expected that. How about freshwater, when we fished together
at El Salto I was impressed by your collection of jerkbaits, being a fan of
ripbait fishing myself. Do you have any favorite lures for bass fishing?
T.Sakai: It was great time fishing with you at El Salto. I don’t
have much opportunity to bass fish, as I mostly focus on saltwater fishing these
my preference for freshwater tackle has not changed much.
If I would go bass fishing, I definitely like to try jerkbaits and topwater no
matter what the
like you have some very exciting things going on. We would like to thank you for
taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. In closing is there
anything you would like to say to our readers?
Ted and Shimano
President, Dave Pfeiffer, land a nice Yellow on a Butterfly Jig
T. Sakai: One last thing I will share with you, Shimano will be
introducing a new fishing technique with unique jigs,
and reels all in combination
early next year. This technique is unique and
will change the way anglers bottom fish, and trust me it will be a very exciting
way to pursue fish down deep. Best of all this
fishing technique isn’t limited to saltwater only, so
keep your eyes
open for this one. In closing I’d just like to say it was a pleasure to be able
to speak directly to your readers through this interview, thank you so much for
TackleTour would like to thank Ted
Sakai for sitting down with us to talk accessories