There are few serious BREAMers in Australia who don’t have an Ecogear SX 40F or two stashed away in their tackle box. This lure is easy to use and gets results, making it a must-have for anglers chasing black and yellowfin bream nationwide.
What you mightn’t know, however, is that the SX 40F is the biggest selling bait – hard or soft – that Japanese fishing manufacturer Ecogear makes for Australia.
We thought it would be interesting to interview the developer of the SX 40F – Japan’s Takayoshi Orimoto – and find out a little about the development process, and maybe even gain an insight into what he thinks will be the next lure that will resonate with anglers in the same way.
Although Mr Orimoto speaks some English, the process was helped by his fluent offsiders in Ecogear’s International Trade division, Hideyuki Igarashi and Peter Koppman.
Takayoshi is 36 and is a full-time lure developer and Pro Staffer for the Ecogear and Nories brands for the Japanese tackle manufacturer, Marukyu. Marukyu is located near Tokyo and employs around 120 staff. Before his current job, Takayoshi was a bass fishing guide and Japanese pro-circuit tour angler, specialising in fishing the heavily fished Lake Kasumi, north of Tokyo.
SM: When and where did you catch your first Australian bream?
TO: I fished the Tweed River in NSW with Simon Goldsmith (ABT) and Tony Shao (JML Australia). We caught around 100 bream in an afternoon on a variety of soft plastic baits. Australia’s bream are small, but there are many of them. That was mid-2003, soon after JML acquired the Ecogear agency in Australia.
SM: And what gave you the idea for the lure?
TO: At the time we were fishing, everyone was using soft plastic baits. It’s hard to stand out from the pack when that’s all anyone is using. We thought that naturally a hard-bodied lure could create a new niche, and because of Japanese experience in this type of production, coupled with Aussie anglers’ input, we could make one that would be a cut above the ones available on the market.
I’m always looking for something unique that makes baits I develop stand out from the pack. Hard-bodies’ unpopularity at the time was an advantage for us.
SM: I think everyone agrees that Japanese baits are generally excellent in quality and finish, but what makes the SX 40F so special?
TO: After examining what was on the shelves of Australian tackle stores, we thought that most of the lures went most of the way to being excellent, but none would take that final step. We made sure that the rattles were right, the buoyancy was right, the hooks were ready to fish straight out of the box and that every lure would work if you tied it on and went fishing.
I’d like to also add that it wasn’t just me designing this lure – it was a co-operation of Ecogear Japan and Australian Pro Staff. It was a team effort.
SM: You’re just being modest. All us Aussies did was drive you to the boat ramp!
TO: No, it really was a team effort. It was Marukyu/Ecogear’s first attempt at designing hard baits specifically for Australia. What Japanese are good at is making small, precise items and the SX 40F is just that. In this way, it’s hard to imitate. There’s a big difference between the authentic SX 40Fs and any other small, shad-style lures out there.
SM: Is the lure weighted in any way for better casting or action?
TO: The rattle type and numbers were especially adjusted to suit the water conditions bream are found in, especially taking into account the water temperature at the time of the year when the SX 40F is likely to be used the most. We also tried new things that you won't find in a lure made for the Japanese market.
SM: How would you weight the lure to use it in deeper water?
TO: The next time I get a chance to fish in deep water I’d like to try two different approaches to get the SX 40F down lower. I would either try using a Carolina rig like that used in bass fishing, or try attaching a small sticky weight to the bill of the SX 40F to get it to dive deeper.
SM: Do you catch many bream in Japan?
At the time of developing the SX 40F I had little bream experience, but I had friends in the southern part of Japan who fished for yellowfin bream a lot with baits like prawns. They, and the Australian Pro Staff, gave me the information I needed to get the size and action right.
SM: Are the SX 40Fs sold in Japan?
TO: No, they’re not. There’s no market domestically for a bream hard bait like the SX 40F.
SM: So is there a future for hard-bodied lures like the SX 40F in Japan?
TO: I think that it doesn’t matter if a lure is hard or soft in Japan – the best lure to use is one that imitates the food the bream are feeding on the best. In Osaka Bay, for instance, the bream are heavy crab feeders. The best bait there is the 2” Ecogear BugAnt in darker colours. It looks and fishes very much like a crab.
As bream fishing becomes popular in Japan, it will be the Australian anglers’ skills which will become important.
SM: So that’s a no then, no SX 40Fs to be sold in Japan?
TO: It’s a lure designed for Australian bream, and that’s our main market. We think that it would be pretty easy to supply a domestic Japanese trout hard bait into the Australian bream market, but joining with Aussie anglers has given us the SX 40F, which is a specialty lure for Aussie bream!
SM: So how did you feel when the SX 40F won a BREAM Tournament for the first time?
TO: I felt relieved that the SX 40F project was justified. From then onwards, sales have been excellent.
SM: So what’s the future of the SX 40F in your eyes?
TO: I think that the SX 40F won’t remain on the top of the game forever. In my last trips to Australia, I’ve been working on the next products for Australian breamers. Keep an eye out for topwater and metal vibration lures in late 2007 and early 2008!
SM: What’s your ultimate bream fishing trip?
TO: I’d like to spend a season in Australia travelling and fishing with the top anglers on the BREAM circuit. Skill levels in Australian anglers have become very good in a short time. I’d like to fish with these anglers in a variety of locations and conditions.
Ecogear distributor, JML’s Tony Shao, couldn’t be happier with the SX 40Fs success, although he admits it would be nice to build up some wholesale stocks at some stage. At the moment, a shipment has gone as soon as it arrives.
Tony admits that initially, the SX 48F was the bigger seller.
“We didn’t know if the SX 40F was too small for Australians to use, as the 48 beat it in sales initially,” he said. “But anglers have pretty good tackle now that can cast light lures easily, so the SX 40F has just skyrocketed.
“It was a big risk for us to release the SX series; at the time it was introduced it was the most expensive bream lure on the market. Even so, it was the only one that had been specifically designed for Australian bream – and I think that’s still true to this day.”
More information on Ecogear’s SX series is available at www.marukyu.com/eng. To see which BREAM tournaments have been won on these lures, and the winning techniques used, visit www.bream.com.au (search for SX40 and/or SX-40).Reads: 3246