Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL — A decade of design work paid off on Thursday as American Tackle Company took home “Best of Show” honors at sportfishing’s largest trade show with a sleek, nearly weightless custom rod component: the Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle.
“Components are often overlooked,” said American Tackle Company’s Darrin Heim. “But at this point, it’s hard to overlook them because this is true innovation.”
The Tsuka 2 Complete Carbon Handle is a masterwork from the Florida-based custom rod manufacturer, well-known for introducing the MicroWave Guide System about a decade ago. Heim said the company has been working for almost ten years to refine the manufacturing process for its carbon rod handles, first working with reel seats and rod butts before finally borrowing a blown carbon building technology from the bicycle industry to create the new ICAST Best of Show champion.
According to Heim, carbon rod handles have been available in the fishing industry since the 1980s; however, his team believes the time has finally arrived for the material to be seen as a widespread replacement for traditional handles made of cork.
“In my opinion, this is the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon and push carbon along,” said Heim. “There is a demand but there hasn’t yet been the same recognition for carbon in this industry that we see in others like cycling. People are used to using cork, which is essentially tree bark, and they’ve been using that forever. But we think carbon is going to be the preferred material of the future. It’s lightweight, it’s extremely durable and strong. It’s beautiful. It’s sensitive and we feel that the time is right for carbon to be widely accepted.”
Previously, Heim said most carbon products in fishing were cylindrical products that were cut by hand, baked and then sanded to form. Now—using blow molding—more products with curves and ergonomic designs are making their way to the show floor.
This year’s ICAST New Product Showcase featured 1,087 new products from 292 companies. After 37 category winners were crowned yesterday, American Tackle Company came out on top as the sole owners of “Best of Show.” Heim said the business has won category awards before, but this is their first Best of Show win at ICAST.
“It’s great to be representing the rest of the custom rod builders and rod component companies in the industry,” Heim added.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 55 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate nearly $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for 800,000 people.