I’ve had a front row seat for lots of fishing industry scoop – everything from watching the Classic winner catch the fish that puts him over the top, to staying in Elite pros’ guest bedrooms, to having pro staff coordinators call me for my thoughts on whether a particular angler would be a good fit for their team. I feel like I have a pretty good sense of how certain things operate both on stage and behind the scenes, including some parts of product development, having attended several carefully orchestrated dog and pony shows from various manufacturers.
During our recent trip to El Salto, though, I got a new bit of insight into how the sausage is made. Specifically, while we were there a team from Daiwa was in the camp – Brent Ehrler, Ish Monroe, cameraman Todd Barnes and R&D specialists from both the US and Japan. They were there to film, but also to assess both existing and potential products.
After lunch each day, the whole Daiwa team sat down and went through each aspect of each product in excruciating detail. I tried not to be too obviously nosy, but I couldn’t pull myself away, either.
As you might imagine, Ehrler and Ish were not the slightest bit bashful about expressing what they liked and disliked in the most straightforward terms possible. Despite all of the time I’ve spent combing the websites of many tackle manufacturers’ and online retailers, I’ve never put much thought into how a product comes to market. I just assumed that in many cases the engineers produce something that’s “good enough,” it gets one or two tweaks, and then they slap a pro’s name on it. That certainly wasn’t the case with this group – they were uncompromising and took each dispute quite personally – and I wish that I could get access to a list of other top manufacturers who follow this template rather than just developing something new, giving it a name, and sending it to market.