I have always believed more brains are better than one.
First I would like to thank Luca Matteo Mainardi, the lead designer, Gianluca Bonomi, Italian as well as other European fishers and rod manufacturing engineers who design, select blank and build it. It is a true collaboration among users, designers and manufacturer.
Spring 2016, I began to experiment to design and build a rod with community input and localization. There are two parallel tracks, one for design and aesthetics, other performance. Tanuki 275 prototypes got input from Appalachian Tenkara Group on Facebook and the result was posted to the public on FB.
Italian Facebook community will get involved with the design this time because Italians excel in product designs. I developed a color scheme of Snow Tanuki 325 and sent to the Italian group as a starting point. Sure enough, I generated a lot of discussions, mostly a backfiring kind, like "Just another Tanuki 325 with different colors".
initial color scheme concept of 325 Italian
Learning from that lesson, I did some research and approached more carefully this time. Gianluca Bonomi, owner of Like a River Alps, suggested that we build for the Alps by starting from the blank up and have Italian designers getting involved. He invited me and other tenkara fishers form Europe and Italy to Riva del Garda Sport Exposition. I took the opportunity and brought with me two prototypes with different actions to Italy for their feedback. Surprised, all Europeans loved rods with different actions than US fishers. Also Italians wanted something different and special for the Alps.
For the final design, I was introduced to Luca Matteo Mainardi, an Italian designer. Luca is the lead designer, whereas I was playing the roll of technical designer and working as a bridge in between manufacturing engineer and Luca. After a few months of collaboration working with Luca and manufacturer, we have to work through mountain of details and technical issues. As a result, Alps Tanuki Special is a notch above the others.
Italian XL-1 final designed by Luca Matteo Mainardi , Italy