Who will preserve our current fishing tackle history? There are many technological innovations going on around us, but we are all so preoccupied with trying to unravel the threads of fishing history from the 19th and first half of the 20th century that we often lose sight of this fact.
Phil White's Shimano Bantams: The First 15 Years is just the kind of work that is badly needed and that reminds us that even fishing history from the 1970s and 1980s is important to preserve. It also, as Phil will attest, can be difficult to research. In essence, this is a book about the history of the casting reel revolution inaugurated by Lew Childre of Alabama and the Shimano Corporation of Japan, which first manufactured the Lew's Speed Spool but soon after replaced it with the Shimano Bantam.
The reel, as White notes, was a revolution. Introduced in 1978, the Bantam was a low profile, lightweight bait caster that helped change the face of bass fishing forever. The shape of the reel allowed the user to "palm" it and helped inaugurate the days of "grip-and-rip" fishing that pro anglers became famous for.
White's book is a reference work designed to help the reader identify and evaluate the myriad of models of the Bantam from 1978 through the early 1990s. The book conveniently divides the reels into three generations, each detailing a "family" of Bantam reels. The first generation gave way in 1984 to the Bantam Mag Plus generation in 1984, which itself was replaced by the Curado family in 1991. Reels from all three eras are still being used on American waters every day.
This is a really well researched and written book that is the definitive history and guide to Shimano Bantams. It contains color photos of virtually every model of Bantam, catalog data culled from a complete set of Shimano catalogs, and a value guide built on years of following these reels at shows and on eBay. It even has a nifty fourth section on miscellaneous Shimano and Bantam information.
I would be stunned if the average collector could not find something of value in this book. With "classic" tackle drying up in the field, fishing lures and reels from the 1970s and 1980s will soon be all that's available to buy. A whole generation of collectors will emerge who will seek out the tackle they fished with in their youth, and a huge number of them will be seeking out Bantam reels. This book can help you tell a rare Bantam from a common one, so the next time your at a garage sale you won't pass up a $150 Shimano in lieu of a $10 Heddon spinning reel. I predict this book will be a standard reference work 20 years from now.
I got my first Shimano Bantam in 1980 and a new Bantam Mag Plus in around 1985. I still own them both. They were (and are) outstanding casting reels and brought me many hours of pleasure. It was a delight to read about their history, and anyone interested in reels, fishing history, and in particular the history of modern bass fishing will need this book.
Shimano Bantams: The First 15 Years is 198 pages, printed in full color and spiral bound, and costs $35.00 plus shipping. It is available directly from the author by Clicking Here.
-- Dr. Todd