Eyeing up the Competition

Multi-tournament NWT/AIM champion, Tom Huynh, and 2022 NWT Angler of the Year, Duane “Dewey” Hjelm, launch Daiwa pro tournament walleye team

Cypress, CA  – DAIWA is excited to announce the formation of an official walleye tournament pro team with the inauguration of multi-tournament NWT/AIM walleye champion, Tom Huynh, and 2022 NWT Angler of the Year, Duane “Dewey” Hjelm. 

DAIWA Marketing Manager, Marc Mills, announces: “DAIWA has quietly been a player in the walleye market for years with many influential walleye anglers relying on our products. From walleye pioneer Al Lindner and the entire Lindner Media crew, well-known fishing guides including Tom Neustrom and Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, to scores of walleye ice anglers, DAIWA reels have gained a lot of ground in the walleye market over the past decade.”

Tom Huynh

Mills says that while DAIWA’s core businesses have been bass fishing and saltwater angling, the company is now ready to push full-tilt into the ever-growing walleye world.

Along those lines, Mills says DAIWA is proud to announce walleye tournament pros Tom Huynh and Duane “Dewey” Hjelm will represent the brand moving forward into the 2023 professional walleye tournament season.

“At DAIWA we’re all about embracing forward-thinking anglers who are pushing the envelope of their respective sports, whether it’s bass fishing, inshore/offshore saltwater; or, in this case, walleye angling,” says Mills.

“We’ve been watching Tom Huynh and Duane Hjelm compete and they’re doing great things. They’ve won a lot of events and have made a name for themselves. We also see walleye fishing changing with advances in techniques and technologies and Tom and Duane are right at the forefront of that revolution. It’s with great honor that we welcome Tom and Duane as DAIWA’s first walleye tournament pro team members,” comments Mills. 

Multi-winning pro walleye angler, Tom Huynh, remarks: “Before I started competitive walleye fishing in late 2020, I was trying to qualify for B.A.S.S. Elites for a couple years, and I fished a lot of DAIWA gear because I looked up to DAIWA bass pros like Brent Ehrler, Brett Hite, Brandon Palaniuk, Seth Feider, Ish Monroe, Patrick Walters, and the Johnston brothers. I only dreamt of representing a company that made the highest quality gear, and now to be on the equivalent of that for competitive walleye fishing is truly an honor.”

Huynh adds: “I’m primarily hunting big fish with finesse gear, so I need certain things out of spinning reels and line. For starters, compact size, reduced weight, reel sensitivity, fail-proof drag, and reliability. Once hooked, the marriage of reel and line just has to work or I’m out-of-the-money. I have a lot of faith in Kage LT and Kage MQ LT spinning reels and the J-Braid to Samurai Hidden Concept fluoro leader combo—and I’m looking forward to a great 2023 season, fingers crossed.”

2022 NWT Angler of the Year, Duane Hjelm, says he’s “super excited” to be one of the first two professional anglers to establish an official DAIWA walleye tournament pro team.

“I was looking really hard for a rod and reel company that was going to meet my needs from super-finesse approaches all the way through trolling set-ups,” says Hjelm. 

“For starters, the DAIWA Kage walleye rod family offers all the actions, powers, and lengths I need to execute my jigging and casting game,” continues Hjelm.

“From pitching glide baits, hair jigs, blade baits, rattle baits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, to jigs and soft plastics—to vertical jigging, rigging, and power-corking—there’s a DAIWA Kage walleye rod that matches the technique perfectly.”

As far as reel choice, Hjelm will pair each technique-specific DAIWA Kage Walleye Rod with a KAGE MQ LT 2500 spinning reel.

“I like a 2500-size reel for just about every casting or jigging presentation. The KAGE MQ LT’s smooth drag, minimal weight, spool size, line capacity, and 6.2:1 gear ratio is perfect for how I fish. I don’t get fatigued and you can feel subtle bites all day long from the bait, down the line, through the rod, and all the way into the reel,” adds Hjelm.

DAIWA Does Walleye Fishing

Mills interjects: “With Kage LT and Kage MQ LT spinning reels, DAIWA is poised to bring walleye anglers what they’ve asked for in terms of weight, drag, performance, and longevity. Adding to that, our Kage technique-specific walleye rods are priced to allow more walleye anglers to purchase numerous rods for various applications without sacrificing performance. They’re incredibly sensitive and lightweight, a carryover from our success in the pro bass market,” adds Mills.

And then there’s DAIWA’s Japanese-made braid and fluorocarbon, for many in-the-know anglers a secret weapon.

J-Braid X8 Grand and J-Fluoro Samurai Hidden Concept are perfect for today’s sophisticated walleye techniques—what’s largely become a casting game utilizing forward-facing sonar,” remarks Mills.

Mills elaborates: “J-Braid is super thin, ultra-strong, casts a mile, and is available in dark green and hi-vis chartreuse. And J-Fluoro Samurai Hidden Concept is unlike any other fluorocarbon on the market—its green and brown tint actually blends in with the water. While super-thin, it offers extreme abrasion resistance for walleye anglers fishing waters with invasive species. While available in common, heavier test strengths for power fishing, we also offer 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-pound test, great in-between diameters for finesse-oriented walleye techniques on pressured waters.”

Parting Words

After years of anglers asking when the brand was going get into the walleye tournament world, DAIWA is now proud to partner with Tom Huynh and Duane Hjelm on the formation of an official walleye pro team.

Everyone at DAIWA will cheering Tom and Duane on as the season starts in Spring Valley, Illinois, on March 21—and hope you will be, too. Not only are these two guys superb anglers, they’re great people. 

For Daiwa’s latest color catalog and/or information on Daiwa dealers in your area, call Daiwa’s Customer Service Department at 562-375-6800 or e-mail inquiries to: CSR@Daiwa.com. The URL for Daiwa’s web site is daiwa.us.