The birth of baitcasters at Quantum

There are no sparkplugs, for instance, in a baitcasting reel, but the annual advancements in baitcasters and automobiles are uniquely comparable. It’s easy to see the cosmetic improvements, but the engineering feats hidden “under the hood” are where the rubber meets the road.

A snapshot of Quantum’s original 1310 baitcasting reel made in 1984 and today’s Quantum PT Smoke S3 captures the obvious. But you don’t have to go back that far to see the startling differences.

“When you look at one of our 20-year-old reels, you almost laugh about it,” said Bob Bagby, the vice president of marketing for Zebco Brands. “But that was the state of the art.”

It’s those advancements under the hood, however, where the quantum leap has been made, if you’ll pardon the pun. Two men are uniquely qualified to tell that story: Kevin VanDam, professional bass fishing’s version of a test driver, who has been a Quantum pro his entire 28-year career; and Bagby, who has 30 years of experience both in marketing and product management and as a research and development engineer at Zebco, the Tulsa, Okla.,-based company.

“Reels are not simple,” VanDam said. “It’s not like making a rod or a jig or a spinnerbait, where anybody can do it. Manufacturing reels is a big investment and a complex process. It’s like building an engine. That’s why there are only a few companies doing it.

“The evolution of the Quantum baitcaster is pretty mind-boggling. In the beginning, we had the Quantum Pro 1s, those first baitcasters, and they were pretty rough. We had a service trailer at the tournaments. They carried extra rods and reels for us. If a reel tore up, you could just go there and replace it. We went through a lot of them in the early days.

“These new Smoke S3 reels are the finest reels I’ve ever had in my hands. I can cast as hard as I want, and I don’t ever have to thumb the spool (to prevent a backlash). If you make a semi-smooth cast, you can’t screw it up.”

While VanDam has been the test driver, Bagby has been on the inside, helping orchestrate the often incremental changes that have accumulated into a vast improvement in performance. His background is in engineering, research and development. His career includes a few years in the automotive industry.

“At one time, Zebco was competing in the fishing industry strictly with spincast reels,” said Bagby, noting the longtime Zebco 33 and 202 models. “[Former Zebco president] John Charvat wanted to get into the market of the enthusiast and bass fishing specifically. So the Quantum brand was invented from scratch.

“That’s one reason I got hired, because we were breaking new ground. There have been lots of starts and stops along the way. What stayed the same was our commitment to the sport of fishing, particularly bass fishing.”

Quantum has taken a two-pronged approach to making a better baitcasting reel: 1) An emphasis on repeatedly testing innovations in a controlled setting, as exemplified by its multi-million dollar Q Lab in Tulsa; and 2) Putting Quantum reels into the hands of the ultimate testers, the pro anglers and guide boat captains that comprise a vast field staff.

“In the automotive industry, there’s a lot of standardized testing associated with mandates for safety,” Bagby said. “It’s a requirement. There’s none of that in fishing, no regulating body that requires quality testing.

“We decided long ago that for the best consumer experience we were going to accentuate testing both in a lab and with a field staff. We developed a set of requirements in the lab for things like drag endurance, drag smoothness, gear strength, gear endurance, bearing life, etc. We invested millions of dollars in evaluating our products. We also evaluate everyone else’s products too. If we’re deficient in an area, we can correct it. That’s a big advantage.

“But there’s no substitute for field testing. We really use our pros and captains. They will find things that you cannot duplicate in the lab.”

VanDam will attest to that, saying, “The modern high-speed reels have been a request from me from day one. I wanted faster reels. We wouldn’t have an 8.1-to-1 reel if it wasn’t for those guys listening to me.”

VanDam mentioned bigger spools that enable longer casts and bigger reel handles for additional power that are the result of Quantum engineers paying attention to the needs of pro anglers.

“It’s amazing to me the shift in just the last 10 years,” VanDam said.

One important aspect of today’s Quantum baitcast reel hasn’t shifted – the price. If anything, it has down-shifted.

“In the end, the customer wants a durable, trouble-free reel at a value,” VanDam said. “The days of $300 and $400 reels are long past. What we have now for $150 rivals what was sold for $300 just a couple of years ago. It just goes to show you how technology has bled into every facet of the industry.”

That’s one aspect that amazes Bagby as well.

“The bang for the buck and the level of performance the consumer gets today is unparalleled,” he said.

What will a baitcasting reel look like 20 years from now? That’s hard to imagine considering the unforeseen changes over the last 20 years. Consider this: The first Quantum baitcasters weighed almost 12 ounces; the 2018 Quantum PT Smoke S3 weighs 6.9 ounces.

That, in anyone’s definition, is a quantum leap.

Checking out Restaurant Zauo – The Quirky Tokyo Restaurant Where You Catch Your Own Fish!

Tokyo is full of great restaurants. So many in fact, that you might just run short on time trying to sample them all. Do you want to have a sit-down Japanese meal, or do you want to try one of those wacky theme restaurants you’ve heard so much about?

Well, why not both? Fishing Restaurant Zauo is a place where the young (or the young-at-heart) get to experience a fun and memorable meal while the more serious diner enjoys great Japanese-style cuisine.

The central dining area of Zauo in Shinjuku is a “fishing boat” sitting in a pool of water.

And in that pool swims your next meal—one of the dozens of live sea bream, waiting for the wiggle of shrimp bait or a swooping net. Because at Zauo, you can fish for your own dinner!

Finding the right fish

To fish, you will need to get a pole and bait (108 yen) from the staff. If you have no idea how to fish, they have an English guide and helpful staff members to assist you. From there, you pick out a likely anglin’ spot and get to catching dinner.

The sea bream are obviously the most numerous, but they aren’t your only option–you can catch flounder, spiny lobster, or other fresh seafood from isolated tanks at the edges of the main pool.

Once you hook a fish, the staff will be there to help you net him. The staff will then beat the taiko drums and announce your successful fishing expedition to the restaurant, with much cheering and clapping.

Of course, you must get a photo of yourself and your catch to post on your social media. Hold on tight, the fish know what’s coming. They will flap wildly and try to get away!

Now you must decide how you want your fish prepared. Grilled or boiled? Sashimi or deep fried? And what about side items? There is an English menu for the kinds of kid-pleasers you just can’t catch with a pole and bait, such as French fries and fried chicken. If you’re not feeling up to the whole fishing experience (or you’re just a bad fisherman), you can order the same fish you see in the tank from the menu. But in our opinion, it’s way more fun to catch them yourself.

We decided on the sea bream sashimi, and it did not disappoint. Fresh fish with soy sauce and just the right amount of wasabi is a fish done right.

There’s no need to worry about not being able to speak Japanese at Zauo. The restaurant serves many foreign tourists daily, and English menus and fishing instructions are always available. Even getting a reservation is easy—the English section of their website has a Reservation form, where you can choose the location, date, time, number of guests, etc. Reservations can be made and/or changed up to three days in advance. All you need to worry about is whether you have enough fishing skill to hook a big one!

Zauo is a great place to take the kids for dinner during your Tokyo experience, and will be a wonderful memory of your trip.

Writer: Derek Winston

BiteMinder angling wireless bite alarm

By Julian Horsey

Anglers searching for a reliable wireless bite alarm to help catch those prize fish, may be interested in the new BiteMinder bite alarm system which is equipped with an innovative sensor and wireless receiver to help you catch more fish. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the BiteMinder bite alarm system which has this week launched via Kickstarter.

BiteMinder is now available to back with early bird pledges available from CAD$175 or roughly £100, with worldwide shipping expected to take place during February 2019.

“Keeping your fishing rod active is a great way to land fish when ice fishing, but sometimes your dead-stick fishing rod gets more action. Get the BiteMinder and you will be able to watch all of your dead-stick lines from the comfort of your ice shelter! The BiteMinder works with any ice fishing equipment: tip-ups, tip-downs, rods, home-made setups, jaw-jackers and spring loaded setups (where legal). All can all be outfitted with a BiteMinder. Like to fish after dark? Like to take a nap on the shore or in your shack? The BiteMinder will wake you up. Even if it is minus 40 with blowing snow… the BiteMinder will patiently wait for that monster fish to take your bait.”

Jump over to the official Kickstarter website for more details on the fishing BiteMinder wireless by detector and a full list of all available pledge options.

On the Fly: Fall delight brings fishing without crowds

Ask the local angler their favorite season to fish, and most will sing songs of autumn’s splendor.

Summer crowds have come and gone, but one thing has stayed consistent, and that’s the fishing! With minimal crowds, one can go back to fishing their favorite locations without the worry of being elbow to elbow. With lower flows, the wading accessibility has widely opened.

Make sure to have studded boots or bring a wading staff; the river will be a blank canvas for you to choose where the perfect drift will be.

Often a surprise to some, we are still fishing fantastic dry-fly hatches in the valley, with the Fryingpan having the most prolific emergences. Do yourself a favor and don’t put away those drakes just yet! You heard it, we are still throwing drakes sizes 10 to 14 on the Pan with good success.

Along with the drakes, we are still seeing hatches of small caddis, pale morning duns and blue-wing olives. The BWOs seem to be the strongest hatch, especially on the more overcast days. Some patterns of note would be sizes 18 to 22 Sparkleduns, CDC Comparaduns, Roy’s Fryingpan emergers and Colletts para BWOs. With smaller flies, we compensate with lighter tippets, 6x and 7x fluorocarbon being the go-to.

The dry-fly fishing is excellent this time year, but the streamer-fishing takes a serious uptick during fall. Time to stock the meat locker with streamer delights, some of our favorite patters being Peanut Envys, Dungeons, Wooly Buggers and, of course Tim Heng’s Autumn Splendor.

Either fish by boat or wade long stretches of water; streamer fishing is best on the move. Browns become very aggressive this time of year and put on a visual experience one has to see for themselves to really know how great it is. Not only are the leaves putting on a show, but the trout are following suit. Brown trout spawn this time of year, so make sure you avoid stepping or fishing on their redds (beds). Instead, put the fly rod down, and take a moment to watch some of the magic nature has to offer.

Enjoy some fall delight out there!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.

Choose Fly Color Based on the Flat You’re Fishing

By Kent Klewein

How do you choose the right fly in saltwater?

I’ve always thought in the broad scope of things that trout fishing calls for more complex decision making over saltwater fly fishing in terms of what goes into choosing the fly patterns we fish. I think a lot of that comes from the simple fact that conditions can change on an hourly basis on our trout streams and also that there’s hundreds of species of aquatic insects found on many of the trout waters we fly fish. However, the more I fly fish in the saltwater, the more I’ve come to understand how inaccurate this past notion of mine is. In many cases, fly pattern choice is just as important in saltwater fishing as it is in freshwater fishing. And If you want to maximize your success fly fishing in saltwater, you need to pay close attention to your surroundings and the ecosystem your fishing, just like you do on your trout water.

On a recent bonefishing trip to Andros South Lodge in the Bahamas, I found out first hand, that there’s times when even a perfect presentation and retrieve won’t always get the job done. Sometimes, even an opportunistic bonefish in the bahamas will quickly shun a fly if it doesn’t look and match close enough to the forage food found in that location. Of all the traits of a fly (color, size, shape, behavior), color seemed to rank the highest of all the traits in whether a bonefish decided to eat my fly or not. Louis, explained to me that it’s very important to match the color of your fly pattern to the color of the bottom you’re fly fishing. Many species of food that bonefish prey on have the ability to change colors to match their surroundings. Take, for example, the shrimp. If a shrimp happens to find itself on a dark bottomed flat, its body will turn darker to match its surrounding color scheme, and if that same shrimp happens to swim onto a sandy white bottom flat, it will quickly lighten its body color, even become transparent at times. It’s how shrimp and many of the other forage foods on the flats keep themselves camouflaged to stay off the radar and be eaten by predators. It’s very important when bonefishing to always do your best to match your fly pattern color to the bottom of the flat your fishing.

Take this into account next time your bonefishing or just saltwater flats fishing in general. Choose light colored flies when fly fishing light bottomed flats and darker colored fly patterns for dark bottomed flats. It’s not rocket science, but sometimes we tend to overlook the little things like fly color when we’re so focused on trying to make that 75 foot backcast into the wind.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline

Trout Fishing in Western Pennsylvania


Spring is the season for trout fishing in Pennsylvania when anglers plunge into the 83,000 miles of streams and rivers and 4,000 inland lakes and ponds in hopes of catching a prize trout by casting the perfect fly and spinning the ideal lure.

The season starts April 13 in Pennsylvania’s western counties. From the brook trout (Pennsylvania’s official state fish) to the flashy rainbow trout or brown trout, Pennsylvania creeks and streams are well-stocked for anglers at these and many other waterways throughout the Commonwealth.

Licenses are required to fish in Pennsylvania, and many areas have special regulations and creel limits on trout fishing. Anglers can find current regulations for favorite fishing holes at the official website for fish in Pennsylvania.


Slippery Rock Creek

Located in Butler and Lawrence counties, not too far from the city limits of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock Creek is known for its incredible trout fishing. Heading southward into Beaver River, Slippery Rock Creek has remote, gorgeous stretches that can be accessed by trails in McConnells Mill State Park.


Youghiogheny River

Anglers can try their hands at float fishing on the famous Youghiogheny River outside Pittsburgh in Fayette and Somerset counties, where excellent trout-fishing opportunities exist all along the massive waterway. The Youghiogheny features a nine-mile all-tackle trophy trout section, several fly-fishing areas, and easy access at Ohiopyle State Park.


Oil Creek

Earning its name at a time when the river was used to ship petroleum downstream, Oil Creek has become one of Pennsylvania’s top trout streams. Anglers may explore some of the Crawford and Venango county creek’s tributaries where wild brook trout make their home. The best access to the water for fishing is in Oil Creek State Park, between Titusville and Oil City. The water here offers beautiful pools, riffles, and runs.


Neshannock Creek

Thought to be one of the best winter trout streams in Pennsylvania, the Neshannock Creek in Lawrence and Mercer counties is a beautiful 20-mile freestone stream in northwestern Pennsylvania. Fly fishermen tend to prefer the waters near the upper part of the creek, but excellent angling can be enjoyed further downstream as well.


Slate Run

Slate Run, Pennsylvania

Slate Run in Lycoming County has become one of the most well-known freestone trout streams in the eastern United States. Wild brook trout and a few brown trout reside in the upper part of the stream, and wild brown trout reside in the lower part. Anglers from far and wide flock to this stream for some challenging and exciting fly fishing, surrounded by a fine mix of pools, riffles, and runs to explore.