A couple days ago we posted Shimano’s first fishing tackle catalog and it got a lot of response from you. So, instead of delaying their next catalog a week or so, we decided to post Shimano 1979-80, their second catalog, today. I think you’ll be amazed at the ground Shimano covered within a year, having only two casting reels introduced in 1978-79 to having six a few months later.
First, I’d like to thank Bass Fishing Archives supporter Dustin Lucas for loaning me this catalog to scan. We truly couldn’t tell the story of Shimano’s early years without his help.
Back to the catalog.
The cover of this catalog differs a lot compared to the previous catalog in that this catalog features four reels instead of one. The image displays their flagship model Bantam 100 along with their new Bantam 300, their new Bass One spinning reel, and a new spincast reel.
As in the cover of their first catalog, this cover reveals that Shimano is really pushing the envelope when it came to production vs. prototype. Their first catalog had what looked like a prototype levelwind with no ceramic insert. This cover features a Bantam 300 where the model number is printed on a sticker instead of being engraved into the sideplate. Along with that is what appears to be a Gator Grip handle on the reel. The interesting thing is Shimano has used their nut lock with a single retaining screw, leaving one threaded hole open on the handle. Yes, they were moving fast in the marketing department, faster than production it seems.
Opening the catalog, the reader is greeted with what became one of Shimano’s most iconic ads placed in nearly every sporting magazine throughout the U.S. Two anglers fishing shark with bass tackle. I mentioned in Daiwa and Shimano 1979 that this ad was most likely produced to show prospective customers that Shimano’s rods and reels may have been light and small, but they could hold up to any condition an angler would throw at it.
Page 4 starts with the parade of Shimano casting reels for the 1979-80 model year. In the image they present their Bantam 100 and 100EX reels along with the new Bantam 200, 300, 400 and 500 models. Like the cover, this photo exposes Shimano’s lack of production pieces available at the time the marketing department needed material to shoot photographs for the catalog. The Bantam 300, 400 and 500 all have stickers for these different models instead of engraved sideplates and all three reels are using what appears to be Gator Grip handles.
Although the tackle shop I worked at sold all of these models, I can’t remember what handles came on these later reels. If someone out there has an original Bantam 300, 400 or 500, it would be great to hear what is actually on the reels.
The opposite page is where Shimano explained the technology of their reels and is essentially the same as described in the 1978-79 catalog. One addition is they discuss the “Easy Grip” handle, which again appears to be a Gator Grip for the Bantam 300 in the image. All of the other attributes they talk about are, in my eyes, things featured on the original Speed Spool.
The following two pages take a deep dive into each model, starting with the Bantam 100, 100EX, and 300. The 100 and 100EX were built off the same frame and had nearly identical features except for the unique “Lure Control” switch offered on the 100EX. This switch supposedly provided better control of lures in the 1/16-ounce range. I remember at the time we had both reels on rods for customers to cast at the shop. I don’t remember anyone ever noticing a difference between the two reels and the 100EX’s ability to cast light baits better.
The Bantam 300 was Shimano’s reply to the Lew’s Speed Spool they had cut their teeth on in the fishing industry. The spool was the same diameter and gear ratio, but there were some notable differences in the two. For one, the reel could still handle 6-pound line and two, the reel didn’t have an anti-reverse switch.
The following page represented the Bantam 200, 400 and 500. The 200 was a wide-spool version of the Bantam 100. The 400 and 500 were the same as the 300, but were wide- and wider-spool versions of the 300. With these bigger line capacity reels, Shimano was trying to spread their reel market from the freshwater bass market to the salmon and light saltwater anglers.
The next reel Shimano introduced was the Triton series offshore reels. I know this isn’t a saltwater history site but this reel changed the saltwater reel industry. Prior to this reel, if you wanted a billet-constructed reel you had to go with a Penn International or a Fin-Nor. Totop this off, Shimano took their tolerances from their baitcasting line and placed the same restrictions on this reel. In turn, they made the first saltwater reel that could accommodate lines in the 8- to 10pound range that would not go behind the spool during casting.
In our shop, these reels were purchased by anglers for throwing fly-lined anchovies with light line, primarily for bluefin tuna. They held up as well as any Penn Squidder, Jigmaster, or Newell, the top reels of the day.
But let’s get back to the bass offerings.
The next two pages of relevance are pages 10 and 11 featuring another two-page ad released throughout the industry magazines. This time it was two anglers fishing Shimano’s freshwater spinning reels for barracuda again showing the community that Shimano’s bass gear was robust enough for any circumstances.
Pages 12 and 13 proceeded to display the Bass One concept spinning reel and two rods. Shimano talks about their concept for a rod and reel designed especially for the bass angler but I’m not sure what they were trying to do exactly. A spinning reel, much like a casting reel, is not a single species tool. What would be considered good for bass would make it equally suitable for any other gamefish. I remember this reel and to be honest, it didn’t hold a candle to the Daiwa spinning reels of the day.
The rods, on the other hand, I never saw. Looking at the images in the catalog, I’m not too impressed. Although Shimano was using Fuji guides and graphite, they placed a heavy reel seat on the rod coupled with Hypalon for the grips. Both components that would dampen the feel of any top-dollar rod.
Also, looking deeper into the image of the reel, I notice that the handle paddle looks as if it was the same paddle placed in the Lew’s Speed Spool. They must have had a good stock of materials to get rid of.
The rest of the catalog provided a look at all their spinning reels and rods. Essentially the same rods and reels shown in their 1978-79 catalog.
Although to end of the catalog was a bit disappointing from the bass angler’s point of view, the front half was exceptional. It confirmed that Shimano was serious about their spot in the fishing industry, and the future would prove such. Today when one thinks of the top tier reel manufacturers, only two companies exist in my mind. Both Shimano and Daiwa make the best freshwater reels available, all others are following in their footsteps.
That about ends it for the 1979-80 Shimano catalog. As always, if you have anyone out there has more to add to this, please make a comment below. For those of you who would like to see the entire catalog, please see the gallery below. Click on the first image and use the arrows to scroll through.