We’ve focused recently on some of the innovations on rods and reels that never really took off within the industry for whatever reason. Along a similar line, there are some that you could argue were pretty neutral, not earth shaking or ground breaking per se, but also weren’t flops and could actually be considered small incremental steps in the overall progression of rod and reel design. I would submit that today’s topic fits that category.
Shimano is a huge staple in the fishing rod and reel market, and there’s probably not too many anglers that haven’t owned at least one of their products over the years. Back in 1980-1981 they introduced a new spinning reel feature to the market called the “Fast Cast System Bail Trigger”. Quite simply it allowed for an angler to only have to use one hand (or more correctly, one finger) in order to open the bail and make a cast. Up to this point, no other spinning reel on the market had this feature. One of the original ads (below) for the reel mentioned this as being a real benefit in icy cold waters, though I’m not completely certain of where that line of thinking developed from. I also recall that as this feature became somewhat popular, one of the common casualties was a broken trigger finger on some companies models.
Still, previous to this development, casting a spinning reel was a two-handed operation, using one hand/finger to hold the line in place and the other hand to open the bail. In order to pull this off, Shimano also had to develop/utilize the self centering bail. Time has proven the longevity of this feature on reels, but now days it seems adopted for only the casual recreational fishing market. I don’t know of any professional angler that uses a reel with such a system in place, or of any high end reel being manufactured with it. Still, the concept lives on to this day, initially being popular in the early development of the sport, but now more of a “low end” reel selling point.