“We didn’t let the pandemic stop us developing new tackle…”

As we look ahead to ICAST 2022, Daiwa USA boss Carey Graves tells us what to keep an eye on, why the pandemic never stopped business and why the brand has anglers covered for pretty much every eventuality…


TTW: Given all that has gone on, with pandemic lockdowns and then reopening, how has the last year been for Daiwa USA?

Carey Graves: While we all know that Covid caused us to pivot in many ways we do business – much like every company in the fishing tackle industry – we didn’t let the pandemic and all the problems associated with it stop us in our pursuit to develop and design new tackle and other products, all incorporating the latest in Daiwa technology that can help anglers have not only more success on the water but also a better overall fishing experience.

We didn’t rest on our ICAST-award-winning fishing reels and the sales success they brought to carry us through 2021 and into 2022 – we’ve committed to bringing more awareness to the entire Daiwa rod line up and expanding the range and quality of tackle management items and fishing tools.

We’ve continued to focus on higher-end bass tackle and the impact having many leading pro anglers in the US and Canada fishing the B.A.S.S. and MLF circuits have on Daiwa’s products and brand awareness, plus we’ll add to our efforts started in 2021 in niche fishing markets like muskies and in Pacific Northwest salmon/steelhead waters to grow our product offerings.

TTW: How is the industry generally right now? Have you noticed an increase in sales as anglers return and new ones get started?

CG: The year started off strong for the industry across all of North America but, recently, we have seen the market slowing across all channels.

This slowing is being driven down by sales at retail that have retracted some over the past two months.

There are many reasons for this and many retailers we’ve been in contact with feel inflation is driving this decrease – plus add in the war in Ukraine and a cold, wet spring here in the US and Canada and that all forecasts a perfect storm.

With that said, anglers are being pulled in many directions as team sports, concerts, travel and other entertainment areas have all opened back up and, I hate to say, we are now competing with all of them for consumer time and discretionary dollars.


TTW: What has been your biggest seller over the last year and why do you think that is?

CG: Over the past year, everything has been hot, so to put my finger on one item or series would be hard.

I can say our Tatula family of reels and rods has been a big stand out for the bass market as we continue to follow our direction of creating a brand that covers the bass angler’s total needs in fishing techniques. Simply said: “Tatula, we got your bass covered!”


TTW: With ICAST 2022 coming up, what have you got in store for us? Is there anything we should particularly look out for?

CG: Daiwa is firmly committed to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the ICAST Show.

From just completing our first in-person national sales meeting in two years with our rep agency personnel from throughout the US and Canada, along with staff with Daiwa Japan and our sales organisation from Australia, coming together face-to-face is such a vital component of how we do business, and that holds true at the ICAST Show as well.

You miss that something extra when meeting virtually – and as most of us know after two-plus years doing Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings – the personal connection the ICAST Show provides with our dealers and distributors in attendance is a needed bonus for all of us to grow our businesses.

We have big plans for ICAST and are excited about all the new items, but here are a few to watch out for…

On the saltwater side, the new Tanacom 1200 eclectic reel and Free Swimmer live bait reel will attract a good deal of interest among dealers and anglers.

On the freshwater side, the Procyon MQ reel and Tatula XT rods continue to showcase Daiwa fishing tackle technology. This is just a taste as we have a lot more to show the market. 


TTW: There is a real trend in fishing right now for sustainability and environmental responsibility. How is Daiwa handling these challenges? 

CG: On a personal level, many of our Daiwa staff, along with a good number of staff at our rep agencies, are involved with key organisations that focus on sustainability and environmental responsibilities.

I recently attended the recent American Sportfishing Association’s Government Affairs meeting in Washington, DC, where we engaged with Congress and federal agency leaders about policy issues affecting natural resources and the industry.

It was not just how it might affect Daiwa but anglers nationwide. We have staff and reps highly engaged and playing an active role with the Coastal Conservation Association, the Keep Florida Fishing initiative and the ASA Government Affairs committee, among other groups.

And now, as we move back into a business-as-normal routine post-Covid, on a corporate level we realise there is more to do and Daiwa will be helping to lead those industry efforts.


TTW: How do you see the future of the trade overall? Is fishing in good shape? What else do we all need to do?

CG: We see the market settling into a new baseline, not as high as 2021 but defiantly higher than 2019.

But, at this point, I feel only time will tell where it will shake out. The good news is that we will have a bigger base of anglers than we had in 2019 and I believe this will benefit the sport long into the future.

As an industry, we need to show how we compete with all the outside competitors that want to take back time and money from our sport.

At Daiwa and through industry efforts we support, I feel we do this but making it easier and more enjoyable to fish. It takes the entire fishing industry to do that.