Pole Fishing looks back at the history of Daiwa’s Tournament brand and explains just why it has become one of the most iconic labels of all time.
Daiwa’s Tournament brand must surely rank among the most highly regarded of all time. From its very inception in the late 1980s, it has been at the pinnacle of quality. Spanning across the sea, fly, match and pole markets, the ethos behind the brand has always been the same – to provide cutting edge tackle to competitive anglers around the world.
The first pole to bear the name was the Harrier Tournament. Released in 1988 and available in 11.5, 13 and 14.5m lengths, it weighed 1,280g at its longest and sold for £1,500, complete with one spare top-three kit! The pole attracted a cult following, especially among the canal anglers of northwest England.
The legend grew further with the addition of the UK-made Connoisseur Whisker Tournament. Supplied at 12.5 metres, but with an extension to 14 metres, this pole weighed just 1,100g at its maximum length and had a retail price of £999.
Following on from this was the Japanese-made Amorphous Whisker Tournament, the pole that went on to be used by Tommy Pickering to break the world match record with 323-11-0 from Denmark’s Lake Skanderborg. An increase in the price of raw materials saw the cost of this rise to £3,500 in the following years, but still they flew off the shelves.
In 1997 came the next model in the family, the UK-made Tournament S. By now the commercial carp scene was really beginning to take off and the Tournament S was one of the first poles to be rated to a whopping No10 elastic!
With many of the UK’s top anglers now onboard with the company, including Tommy Pickering, Will Raison and the Trentmen, Goldthorpe and Dorking squads, it was little surprise that the company’s product-development potential was going from strength to strength.
In 1999 the Tournament Pro X was launched. Weighing just 990g at 14.5 metres, and selling for £3,500, it was one of the first to come supplied with a purpose-built holdall. It was also unique in that it needed just 10 sections to take it to its full length – thanks to longer mandrels. Because the pole required fewer sections it also incorporated fewer joints, improving the overall action and performance of the model.
In 2001 product performance was taken to a whole new level with the release of the Tournament 710. With an RRP of £7,500, this was among the most expensive poles ever brought to market in the UK – with performance to match its price tag. Such was the impression that it made on the market, though, some anglers went on to buy two, or even three!
Sitting alongside this in the range were two less expensive models, the Tournament 410 and Tournament 210. With retail prices of £3,900 and £3,650 respectively, both also proved popular.
By 2002 commercial fishing was booming and with the prevalence of snake-type lakes up and down the country, there was demand for poles to go further than they ever had before. This inspired Daiwa to release two super-extensions, to allow anglers to fish at 17.5 and even 19 metres where required.
In pole terms, 2004 was a very big year. It saw the release of Daiwa’s iconic Tournament Professional, a pole that must surely rank among the best-selling flagship poles ever released. This was one of the first poles in its price bracket to be rated to a massive 16 elastic out the bag and retailed for a shade under £4,000.
Anglers and journalists from all stables acclaimed its performance but it was the package that the pole was supplied with that set tongues wagging the most. Supplied complete with three match top fours, two super fours, two carp kits and a reversible extension, it is fair to say that it set the trend in terms of comprehensive kit packages.
Daiwa won’t disclose just how many of these poles it has sold, but many retailers rank the Tournament Pro as being the biggest-selling flagship pole of all time. For sure, it cemented Daiwa’s place as the market leader in terms of flagship-pole production in the UK.
They say that it is folly to change a winning formula, which is probably the reason why the Tournament Pro remained right at the very top of Daiwa’s range for the next five years.
Its successor had big shoes to fill and in 2009 the Daiwa Tournament Airity was released. Again, this attracted a cult following but with the Tournament name being dropped from its big brothers, the Airity, and latterly the Air, it is exciting news indeed that a successor has been released in what must surely rank as one of the most well-respected pole brands of all time.
Later this year, the new Daiwa Tournament Pro X is set to hit the shelves. With enhanced recovery and responsiveness at the fuller lengths thanks to innovative new materials, its performance boasts a notable improvement on what’s gone before.
Even more impressive, though, is what Daiwa has planned with regard to spares. For the first time, the company will offer users the chance to customise the package that they want to suit the type of fishing that they do.