Fishing is an enormously widespread pastime. The hobby is popular with people all over the world, from the United States to Brazil, from Germany to Finland, and from Vietnam to Canada. I personally know someone in Japan who enjoys fishing! So it comes as no surprise that there are companies that produce fishing reels in Japan.
Which Companies Sell Fishing Reels Made in Japan? (The Short Answer)
I had to dig pretty deep for this one, but in the end I was able to find a number of companies that produce their fishing reels in Japan. In total, it seems there are five companies that do so, and those companies are Shimano, Daiwa, Megabass, Tiemco, and Gan Craft. I’ve collected information on each of these companies for you to browse below.
Japanese-Made Fishing Reels (5 Brands to Choose From)
If you had asked me to guess how many companies made fishing reels in Japan, I probably would have told you 3-5, so no surprises here. I’ve provided a relatively brief introduction to each of the companies I was able to find. I hope you find the information as interesting as I did!
Shimano was founded in 1921 by Shozaburo Shimano. The company was originally christened Shimano Iron Works. It was established in Sakai and, in fact, the company remains headquartered there to this day.
Shimano Inc.’s claim to fame was cycling components. The company was actually at one point one of the world’s largest manufacturers in that industry! It wasn’t until 1971 that Shimano, Inc. began manufacturing for the fishing industry.
The plan was for fishing-related products to form a new core stream of revenue for the company, so it began with fishing tackle. That same year, it also released its first spinning reel series—the 1971 DUX. The product experienced rapid success not only in Japan but in the United States and Europe as well.
If you want to buy from Shimano, be careful. The firm’s lower-end fishing reels (up to $200 in price) tend to be produced in Malaysia, China, or Singapore. It is the high-end reels that are made in Japan.
Daiwa is a significantly newer company than Shimano, having been founded in 1958. Daiwa also differs from Shimano in that it was able to find success on the international market much faster. It took Daiwa less than a decade before it had cemented itself as a market leader across much of the world.
The company uses some materials of its own design in its fishing rods, including Z-SVF, described as “a high-density carbon fiber sheet with a minimal amount of resin.”
Much like with Shimano, you’ll need to be careful if you decide to purchase from Daiwa. Most of the firm’s fishing reels are in fact produced in other countries; only some of its fishing reels continue to be produced in Japan.
Models that are currently produced in Japan include some spinning reels (2020 Saltiga G, Saltiga Bay Jigger, Certate SWG, Exist LT, Certate LT), some bait casters (Steez CT, Steez SV, Steez A TW), and two power assist series (Tanacom, Seaborg).
Daiwa is currently a subsidiary of Globeride. Daiwa’s parent company owns and operates a 225,000-square-foot factory in Tokyo, Japan, which is where the series I’ve listed above are produced.
I was able to find very little information about this company! Megabass was founded in 1986 by Yuki Ito. The company is headquartered in Hamamatsu city, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan.
Be careful when buying from Megabass. Just like Daiwa, only a small number of the company’s really high-end fishing reels are produced locally in Japan. The rest of its products are all manufactured overseas.
Megabass owns and operates an 8,800-square-foot factory, but interestingly enough, it contracts the manufacturing of some of its products to none other than Daiwa, itself! I presume this is because the Megabass facility is too small for the staff to handle all of the production themselves.
Megabass has a single subsidiary, located in the United States. The company ships products worldwide.
This company was founded as Tiemco, Ltd. in 1969; its head office was in Shibuya, Tokyo. From the very beginning, Tiemco was established as a fishing products venture. The directors began by importing, exporting, manufacturing, and selling fishing tackle.
In 1970, just one year after opening for business, they relocated their headquarters to Minato, Tokyo. They relocated again less than a decade after that, in 1977, this time to Shinjuku, Tokyo, where their headquarters remain today.
Tiemco was at least partly responsible for the popularization of fly-fishing in Japan. It opened a fly-fishing school in 1976 specifically to cultivate this market.
Tiemco is a publicly traded company and is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under JASDAQ. It is also listed on the Standard Market as of 2022. The Standard Market is a new segment of the Tokyo Stock Exchange; being listed in the Standard Market indicates that a company is stable and long-standing, with no fear of crash or bankruptcy.
The last company on my list is Gan Craft. This is another company that I was able to find very little information for. For example, its ‘About Us’ page consisted of nothing more than an address and a phone number. Here’s what I was able to find out.
The company manufactures its own series in addition to improving and reselling certain kinds of Daiwa reels. It is headquartered in Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture, and operates a 10,600-square-foot manufacturing facility in Tanabe. All of its products are made in Japan. Gan Craft distinguishes itself as a market leader in swimbait.