Judging from most reports, the ICAST show didn’t deliver any big reveals, things that would kickstart the industry like an unbanned umbrella rig. In many ways, it was one complicated mixed message. If anyone in the fishing business has any clue as to its overall direction, then please, give me a look into that crystal ball.
For instance, Abu Garcia mildly touted the revamping of their legendary round reels, a positive step towards the sanity of promoting that which works, has proven it works and will continue to work for generations. Unfortunately, value and performance is a tepid message these days and not one embraced by the new breed of blogger/outdoor scribblers.
No, they need the tin foil flash of minnow-within-minnows or something like the sexy numbers offered up by Abu Garcia’s Revo Rocket, a 9:1 gear ratio, 10 ball bearing screamer of a low-profile baitcaster to make the industry happy.
Bless their hearts. For all the unqualified success with round reels like the Ambassadeur, the Abu Garcia folks have never quite been able to wow the fishing market with their low-profile models. I’m not sure why, but that’s just the way it’s been. Maybe the Revo Rocket will change things, but I have my doubts.
When I see that ripping fast gear ratio and all those ball bearings, it’s the same reaction I get from those razor blade commercials. Honestly, how many blades are really necessary? At what point with razor blades or gear ratios or ball bearings do we reach the point of diminishing returns?
To me, Abu Garcia is trying to chase down the Shimano Chronarch by redlining the gear ratio and forgetting their own history with the Ambassadeur. We embrace Ambassadeur because it signifies performance, durability and value, just as we embrace Chronarch for the very same reasons. Revo Rocket? Not so much … yet.
After watching the new documentary “For Life: The Story of Abu Garcia”, I can only hope that every industry CEO, including those at Abu Garcia and Pure Fishing, understand the message at the core of this well-crafted and engaging film by Dustin Hoye, one that vividly illustrates the stubborn, caring and meticulous nature of Swedish craftsmen. The film also illustrates how the angling public can become vocal and fervent supporters of a quality product devoid of fluff. To watch this film is a completely worthwhile expenditure of your time.
Personally, I came away from it thinking that the guy running the company should be the elderly gent who runs the Abu Garcia museum in Sweden. Having worked there since his childhood, here is a man who understands where the company has been, the mistakes they’ve made, their triumphs and maybe, just maybe, where they should place their emphasis now.
Within the film are several poignant segments addressing the heritage of Abu Garcia’s round reels, one of which focuses on a family who passed their Ambassadeurs down from generation to generation. In his teens, the son decided that he was ready for his father’s black reel, the one originally owned by his grandfather. The young man caught a fish and swung it into the boat, only to have the fish flop back over the side, taking reel and rod along with it. After years of trying, they eventually recovered the reel, using ropes tied to rakes as dredging tools. To me, this is what our gear should mean to us. Although I had not yet seen the film, it’s precisely why I called out Abu Garcia and every other manufacturer weeks ago. If any angler, much less an Abu Garcia-sponsored pro, should ever slam dunk his or her gear, ever again, I hope we all speak up.
• In a similar ICAST vein, Mitchell released the latest versions of the famed model 300 and at sensible prices ranging from $50 to $70. Long associated with Abu Garcia and now a sister division at Pure Fishing, Mitchell offers at least a small glimmer of hope for a return to common sense.
For those of us who cut our collective spinning reel teeth with the Mitchell 300 or 308, this isn’t some misty dip into the spa of nostalgia. We’ve known, our entire lives, that most of the levers and gadgetry blithely added over the years have been pure nonsense. Sometimes, when something’s right, it’s right. If Mitchell has incorporated the true innovations of modern technology – lighter, stronger materials for instance – and not cheapened the production process, I’m in. If this new Mitchell 300 works as well as the original – and lasts as long – my only fear is that fishermen will equate price with value.
• For those who never had the opportunity to meet or fish with Charlie Reed, consider it a loss. If the man on the surface was anywhere within shouting distance of the man inside, here was the real deal. The man I knew was driven, polite and humble. He was married to Vojai, a formidable angler in her own right, for 60 years. Knowing him, even in the brief crisscrossing pattern of different lives, was a gift.