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Interview


Shimano Product Manager Robby Gant talks about the new Crucial Rod Series
 

Date: 11/2/11
Interview: Robby Gant
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander






 


Introduction: The original Crucial rod series was, dare we say it, "crucial" to Shimano in their bid to get bass anglers interested in pairing the company's reels with their own rods. The originals were a huge success and delivered performance, styling, and an exceptional over the counter lifetime warranty, all for a very reasonable price. Since then Shimano has continued to up the ante with even higher-end freshwater rods including the Cumara and Cumulus, proving that Shimano doesn't just build great reels, but that they also build great rods as well. Stepping up to the challenge of redesigning the entire Crucial lineup for the 2012 season is Robby Gant, and we sit down with him to talk about the updated series.  


We sit down with Robby Gant, Product Manager at Shimano to learn more about the redesigned Crucial Series

Zander: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions surrounding the new Crucial Series rods, letís start out with a quick recap of your role and responsibilities at Shimano?

Robby: I am a Product Manager for Shimano and in charge of both Shimano rods and reels.


The new Crucial rods feature a clean look and make use of a IM-10 blank

Zander: Let's get right into it, what are the major factors you think anglers should consider when looking for a technique specific rod at the 150-180 dollar price point?

Robby: There are many things to look into when choosing a rod especially at this price. Before we get into the technique specific part lets first discuss the rod itself. Blank construction and components is what really sets rods apart. There are many rods in this dollar range that just donít offer very good components. The New Crucial rods come with IM-10 Blank, which is a super light weight blank and very sensitive. These rods also come with Fuji Alconite Guides. These guides are some of the best guides on the market. The last component on these rods and one that I am most proud of would be the newly designed reel seat. This seat design is by far the most comfortable seat ever built. Also one of the lightest reel seats ever created. With its up locking handle there are NO threads exposed. This seat also gives anglers the most blank between the hoods that hold the reel in place. The focus was on comfort and that is what anglers will get with this seat. Talking about the actual action of the rods or the technique specific part we worked with the best tackle stores in the country. They are the ones that actually sign off on the actions. We chose the most popular techniques and designed the rods around the lures. We didnít focus on just how the rod works the lure but took it a couple steps farther. We looked at the load and shoot of the bait, meaning that the rod will cast the lure better than any other rod created. Letís face it, you cast more than you catch. But once you do get a bite the rod needs to load up properly, meaning setting the hook to the best of the rods ability. I can go on and on but these are just a few things that we do when building technique specific rods.


Robby designed a new reel seat for the Crucial rods

Zander: The new Crucial rods are a major change from the previous generation and in a lot of ways cosmetically follow the same theme as the Cumara Series, can you help explain the differences?

Robby: My goal when designing the new Crucial was that I wanted the same carbon or construction of Cumara. We achieved that with these new rods and the major difference between the two is in the components. Again something that at times is overlooked but Crucial comes with Fuji Alconite and Cumara comes with Fuji SIC.


There are no exposed threads on the reel seat whatsoever

Zander: Please tell us more about what went into the design of the new rods, what were the major priorities you wanted to accomplish?

Robby: I wanted to create the most well rounded series of technique specific rods on the market that would offer the best in blank construction, reel seat, and guides. Building Bass rods for the entire country is difficult. A Jig rod in Southern California is different than a Jig rod in Alabama.  Also one of the biggest obstacles was to cover the massive array of techniques that Bass fisherman use these days. We had to cover the obvious but wanted to look at new and up and coming techniques like "Underspin." 


There is a lot of direct contact with the blank with this new minimalistic reel seat

Zander: Were Shimano reels, both baitcasting and spinning, taken into consideration when developing the new Crucial rods? Are there any particular reels that you feel pair very well with the new series?

Robby: Yes, the color concept of the new Crucial rods were taken into consideration by looking at two series of reels. Chronarch and Stradic. Both have that Pearl White so I took that same color and did the logo in Pearl White. We used a black colored blank that is very similar color of black that is the main frame of Chronarch. Putting either of these reels on the New Crucial you will see really quickly the similarities.


A sculpted winding check finishes the reel seat, no fore-grips here

Zander: Can you tell us about some of the field testing that was involved in the new series, did anything come up during testing that caused you to make changes to the original rod design or materials?

Robby: Testing is something we really take pride in. These rods were in testing for about 6 to 8 months. They get sent out to our Sales Reps who then take out there local dealers fishing as well as their local prostaff. Nothing major came up with this series other than a few small tweaks to the action meaning a little less power or a little more power, or moving a particular guide a little, but nothing major.


A look at the spinning rod which also features a split grip design

Zander: There are many rods to choose from in the lineup ranging from finesse spinning rods to swimbait sticks, will you be adding more rods to the series, or is the current lineup prey complete?

Robby: The plans are to continue to grow this series. As you all know more and more applications or techniques are created almost daily in the Bass World. For example just last month on Guntersville there was an FLW tournament that was won using the Alabama rig. A new Spreader bar design which from what I heard many of the Top Anglers in that tournament used. So depending on how big we think that technique would be there might be an opportunity to build a rod for that technique. We already have that rig on the way and will start the design process as soon as we get the rig. The rod might not ever make it to market but I will be ready just in case that technique takes off.


The Butt caps feature laser etched technique badges

Zander: Do you personally have any favorites in the lineup?

Robby: It really boils down to the technique. Living and fishing mostly in Southern California I would say that the CRC-72MHA would be up towards the top. I love fishing the Yamamoto Ika and this rod is awesome for that technique. Also because of where I live and fish the most you have to have a drop shot rod. For this I like the CRSDX72MA. Trust me I would have liked to have said the CRCF79XHA for fishing frogs but the lakes down here just donít fish like Clear Lake or the Delta.


Robby shows Cal and Zander the new application specific Crucial rods

Zander: In closing is there anything else you would like readers to know about the Crucial rods?

Robby: This series of rods is my baby. Actually the original series of Crucial is how I got started building rods for Shimano. Before rod building I was a sales Rep for Shimano and was asked at the time to help create that series of rods. I absolutely loved it as being a huge Bass guy I got to take all the creative things in my head on what a rod should be and bring them to life. So in the rebuild of my most passionate series I needed to make these the best rods I have ever created. I think the one thing that I am most proud of for this new series would have to be the new reel seat design. It is by far the most advanced reel seat design on the market and I'd like anglers to check them out and give me your thoughts, I think you will like them.

Looking for the Shimano Crucial Rods? Try Tackle Warehouse


 

 

 

 

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