The year was 1967. In America, Aretha Franklin, The Doors and Bobbie Gentry were topping the after school charts while the thump of helicopter blades from Southeast Asia permeated television sets on the nightly news. These were revolutionary times, but in most parts of the country you could still get a burger, fries and a cola for about a dollar—and you could still go fishing at nearly any watering hole of your choosing.
In the late-60’s, America was a powder keg waiting to blow. It needed a release. And that release rose in the form of fishing, when the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) rose out of the Alabama clay from marketing genius Ray Scott. But around the same time Scott was busy raising the bar for bass fishing in the United States, another company—some 7,000 miles away in Saga, Japan—set about raising the bar for lure crafting from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Its name was YO-ZURI. And 50 years later, the company is still raising the bar for innovation in fishing lure design. Through five decades, the methods and goals of lure design have remained the same: catch more fish, catch bigger fish. However, the way in which fishing lures are made has changed dramatically.
“At first,” YO-ZURI engineers say, “our baits were handmade. It was a great time for learning and mastering the trade to determine what makes a great fishing lure. Later, as demand for YO-ZURI lures started to outgrow our ability to make each one by hand, we developed a special, integrated production process that allowed us to make all of our baits in-house. It was important to control the process to maintain our quality and ensure that each YO-ZURI lure focused on the fish-catching qualities that were designed right into the bait.”
For the first decade of its existence, YO-ZURI mastered the basics, as domestic demand shifted from commercial fishing and lures that were truly “tools,” to leisure fishing items used by passionate anglers who demanded the highest quality and craftsmanship. That change, from commercial fishing tools to recreational fishing lures, taught the company about new materials and technologies, which ultimately culminated in a new era for the company.
In 1976, YO-ZURI took a step forward when they established an Overseas Export Division in order to sell products to the U.S. and European markets — cornerstones of recreational fishing—at a time when the likes of Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston and Rolland Martin were dominating a swelling B.A.S.S. circuit.
“We attended a great many international fishing shows in those days in our effort to learn and teach,” engineers said. “We wanted to learn from anglers in other parts of the world, and we wanted to teach them about YO-ZURI, our products and how they are best used. It was a great experience, a great opportunity and the beginning of new growth. Since that time, the YO-ZURI brand has expanded to the whole world, not just the U.S. and Europe, but also Canada, Central and South America and Australia. In 1976, we started to become an international brand, and it changed the way we saw the world, the sport and our business.”
For two decades, the YO-ZURI brand grew into its new role as a global citizen, and in 1996, as Kevin VanDam captures his second Angler of the Year title, the company changed its name to DUEL, leaving the YO-ZURI brand for its overseas customers, where by then its following had grown to a loyal following of anglers spanning the world.
Now, YO-ZURI is one of the most widely known and respected tackle brands in the world, reaching serious anglers in more than 100 countries. Almost everywhere there are fish, there are YO-ZURI lures designed and built to catch them.In Japan, DUEL followed the Japanese bass boom by launching the HARDCORE series. With originality and innovation such as the revolutionary Magnet Weight Transfer System, they’ve stayed on top of technology to continue to create some of the best lures available anywhere and at any price—including a foray into the fishing line market. “We saw an opportunity to enter the fishing line market, so YO-ZURI put its integrated production system to work to create the best available fishing lines, including our H.D. Carbon 100% Fluorocarbon.”
Today, YO-ZURI is not just a growing manufacturer of fishing lures, but they’re also gaining market share in fishing line, too, as more anglers discover their Japanese-designed fluorocarbons and braids.
In 2017 America, a burger, fries and soda might cost you ten dollars. The names of Franklin, Morrison and Gentry have long faded from the pop charts, giving way to The Weeknd, Drake and Bruno Mars. The names of Dance, Houston and Martin have been replaced in the B.A.S.S. winners circle by Hackney and Martens and Swindle. In 50 years, a lot of things change—but in Saga, Japan, they’re still cranking out quality fishing products.
“At YO-ZURI, we continue to challenge accepted standards and to create the best fishing lures and lines available, including our MAG, CRYSTAL and HYDRO series of lures that are catching fish and catching on all over the world. We make products that anyone can use to catch fish anywhere there are fish to catch. Our production systems and technologies continue to set the standard. YO-ZURI products are YO-ZURI designed, YO-ZURI manufactured, YO-ZURI tested and internationally proven and respected.”