The Baitcaster lands down under
Up until the late 1950s baitcast reels had a secure home in American bass fishing. Types like the Pflueger Akron were pretty much household. A common feature was a solid interface between handle and spool….as the latter unloaded during a cast, the crank also whirred.
The arrival of the Swedish designed and manufactured ABU5000 proved a goldmine for Garcia, the sportsgood wholesaler. The red warrior 5000 & 6000 proved capable downunder barra workhorses.
Shakespeare’s President came along around that time – an indication of American response to ABU inroads into what were domestic products and market share.
After consolidating spin reels to outperform European made and market leading Mitchell and DAM, Daiwa engineers tackled baitcaster design.
The first Millionaires were reversed engineered ABU copies. Of all places I ran into Millionaires Mark 1 at a roadside market on the River Kwai on the Thailand/Myanmar border. Don MacPherson and I were visiting Chang Mai at the invitation of Dan Byford -former green beret who’d set up fly tying and leader manufacture…
To rewind a few years, Daiwa marketing manager Ian Cruikshank presented me with pre-release 5HM and 6HM baitcasters. I’d taken them to PNG where it wasn’t long before they replaced the red warriors on my rods.
In decades since Daiwa have been at the forefront of baitcaster design and ergonomics. The STEEZ, found on the shelves in 2020, is a standout when it comes to saddling a single hand trigger grip rod.
In leading the inroads reels of Japanese design and oriental manufacture into the English-speaking world, rival brands like Shimano, Okuma and others have won angler minds and dollars, though none have eclipsed Daiwa sales in the spiritual home of baitcast fishing, America.
Until next tide,
Rod Harrison has caught the world’s great salt and freshwater fish on a fly rod.