Shimano: A passion for fishing and innovation

Editor's Note: This story is part of a larger package on Shimano gear. Click here to see more.

It started in 1978 when Shimano unveiled the Bantam baitcasting reel at the American Fishing Manufacturers Show. The reel was an overnight sensation.

And it has been that way ever since, as Shimano has become a fishing tackle manufacturer renowned for its innovation and quality. When the annual fishing tackle shows unveil new products, the question is always: What’s Shimano going to do next?

It’s that combination of passions – for fishing and innovation – that has made Shimano an industry leader.

“We are passionate about fishing and creating something new,” said Kenichi Iida, Shimano’s product manager. “We have 30 quality control engineers who continuously study how to improve things. They fish all the time. They’ve got their dream job. Our research and development team is making the impossible possible.”

The company began in 1921 as Shimano Iron Works, specializing in producing bicycle parts. In the 1950s Shimano began producing its derailleurs, the mechanisms that move a bicycle chain from gear to gear on a 10-speed bike. And the company has continued to be an innovator in the cycling world.

It’s that knowledge of building gears – the angles that are cut, the materials they are made of – that is at the heart of Shimano’s reel-making ability. It translates into better gear life, less wear and less binding. Shimano reels perform smoothly right out of the box and continue to perform year after year.

Shimano’s X-Ship innovation serves as an example of game-changing innovation based in that knowledge of gear efficiency. It provides 20 percent more cranking power to every reel. By making a larger drive gear and less offset in the pinion gear, X-Ship adds power like no other reel on the market.

Catch just one fish on a Shimano reel and you will feel the difference.

That spirit of innovation has also been applied to Shimano’s fishing rods. Working with 3M, Shimano discovered a method for eliminating the gas bubbles in the resin used to make fishing rods. That’s why Shimano’s combination of fiberglass and graphite in a crankbait rod, for example, can have the feel of a fiberglass rod without the weight and thickness of fiberglass.

The innovation never stops at Shimano, down to the smallest detail.

“Listening to fishing experts is priceless,” Iida said. “We have field testers all over the world. Our focus is always to provide the best quality products.”

Shimano backs its products with a limited lifetime warranty. For example, if a Shimano rod breaks under normal fishing conditions, it can be taken back to the retailer and it will be replaced free of charge. Anglers will be handed another rod – no sending it off to the company and waiting for a replacement.

Shimano’s ultimate goal is to give anglers a better day on the water. And it bears repeating: Catch one fish on Shimano products, and you’ll feel the difference.

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