Jatsui of Italy: This is how fishing can break barriers
What if every tackle brand in the world gave up just four or five days a year to spread the appeal of fishing to youngsters?
Jatsui from Italy says it is putting the emphasis on fun rather than business when it makes its annual appearance at a two-day fishing event in Croatia. There, within the small community of the town of Kastela near Split, it is exciting youngsters about sea fishing and, thanks to a simple design competition, about its lures too.
What if every tackle brand did something similar? Especially if there was a deeper story to tell, that created a little extra curiosity amongst youngsters and also their parents. At Jatsui, they like to say that ‘fishing is not just fishing’, which means they like to spread the message that a day on the water develops life skills well beyond landing a prized catch.
Armando Zito is the Import & Export Manager at parent company Scorziello Sasa. He attends the event in Croatia every year. He told Angling International: “A good fisherman, not just a young fisherman, is a person who observes, who knows how to predict events, who is a student of biology and of animal behaviour. A good fisherman knows how to share, experiment and react to events.
“Does this seem like ‘just’ fishing to you? I think this is life. And, for the sake of angling, I think we should spread that message to the wider community.”
Jatsui may not be creating an army of future anglers, but in a corner of Europe it has settled on a powerful message that could easily be repeated a thousand times a day across the world. Here, Zito explains more.
Why does Jatsui support a fishing event in Croatia?
AZ: Simply, we were asked. The event is called Kastel Stari Lignjolov and we like it because it puts youngsters at the centre of all the activities. It raises funds for disadvantaged children. We provide equipment for the fishing competition and we organise a Jatsui Young Designer workshop for the youngsters to learn about how lures work and then draw their own creations.
You feel it is important to show youngsters the wider benefits of fishing. Why?
Because it changes the perception of fishing amongst those who have never tried it. Just stop for a moment and think about casting a line. How much hand-eye coordination is involved, how aware you need to be about movement and action. Then think about how much knowledge an angler has about the natural environment. The wider community misunderstands angling. But fishing is not just fishing. If we can spread that message, think how we could persuade people to take it up.
Are there any other ways in which you are spreading the message?
Our partner in Spain, Turkana Fishing, has supported a series of events in the Iberian Peninsula, mainly dedicated to eging and not just for kids. Eging is experiencing exponential growth on the Mediterranean side of Europe and North Africa, and Jatsui is right at the heart of it. It’s one of the techniques that is introducing young people to fishing.
How many young anglers are you reaching in this way?
An exact number? I couldn’t tell you. We exceed 100 participants at each event, and I often see entire families travelling to watch. There is social media engagement too, but this hasn’t been about analysing data.
But there is potential to extend the ideas to other countries in the Mediterranean?
Why not? We have seen that it works in Italy, Croatia and Spain. It would be very nice to be able to create a format and export it.
What do you think other tackle suppliers and brands should learn from what Jatsui is doing?
I don’t feel in a position to tell others to learn from us. What I can definitely say is that we are having fun, the perception of the brand has improved and we often find doors opening where we couldn’t enter before.
You also have a new idea for the Pescare show in Naples in March. To change the nature of your booth and make it more ‘interactive’. Can you explain more?
It’s coming to Naples after years in northern Italy. Southern Italy is our home, so we feel the importance of this event very much. We have thought hard about a different format. The best part is that we are bringing our pro-staff who people know on social media. We’re bringing the online, offline. The chance to meet them is all part of ‘Fishing is not just fishing’.
Why have you made this move?
Because these kind of events need to move on from being marketplaces. We feel the need to shake some dust off. It can’t be about one-way communication any more.
And you think that any plan to attract young anglers must also include social media heroes, yes?
As kids we all had idols, almost certainly from the worlds of music or TV. Well, the new generation doesn’t watch TV. Social media characters are the new idols. How much did you want to see your favourite band play live? It’s the same feeling for kids who want to meet, listen and interact with the pro-staff of the fishing world. We are going to create this opportunity.
You sound confident that angling can attract youngsters. Are you?
Yes, fishing can still attract young people, but I believe that the fishing world has simply not yet understood that young people have a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world.
So, do you have a message to your colleagues in the trade?
A message to my colleagues? Open up, hire young people, give them space, get involved with them. We have so much to learn.