On local lakes I have long used long -- 7-8' -- whippy, spinning rods with a Penn UL reel and 4lb test Stren to take LMB with 4" strawberry colored "Do Nothing" worms on a 1/16 oz weedless worm jig hook.
Hordes of smaller bass and a decent number of 7-8 lb-ers have fallen prey to that setup. Even when the big guys dove into deep weed beds, the line scissored off the weeds which rose all around my float tube. And the fish just could not shake off those extra sharp light wire hooks and the flexible rod nagging them to the surface.
Hell, until now, i had not even known the Japanese had twigged to this game!
Americans have a tendency to outfit like the next guy for the same target fish and type water, and most model themselves after a convention.
FFR is a cool place, because the Odd Americans hang out here.
Even the Brits have their target fish conventions with their own traditional tackle, and throw in some tweed (though they're a bit wider-viewed than Americans, taking up both Japanese tackle and American tackle).
The Japanese are more individual, specialized, and innovative in their approach to fishing. People from the outside would probably call it crazier (whoever heard of an UL saltwater rod).
If you had been here a dozen years ago - many of us were going to Japan for our glass fly rods, simply because new glass wasn't offered here then - good news, that's changed with word of mouth and our own growing cottage industry.
But using just the example of UL spinning reels. Regardless of the brand and model, the offerings sold here tend to be very much alike in that UL niche - one size, one spool capacity, all high-speed gearing. That's usually the first question Americans ask - what's the gear ratio? it's gotta be high speed, even if that gives up feel, finesse, and winding power.
That same UL reel body sold in Japan offers 5 different models, with 4 different spool capacities, 3 different gear ratios covering a 60% difference in line pick-up rate, and 4 different handle pitches (and you can mix and match the spools and handles between those 5 models) - those options just in the UL body for one reel model.
The number of rod variations offered in Japan for that target niche is almost incomprehensible compared to the fewer rod variations offered here (and maybe not offered here).
While we offer a lot of brands, price ranges and some variation in length and capacity, they tend to be very much like the next, e.g., inshore rod = 7' MH, 30-lb braid, and you can imitate a 3" shrimp or mullet as long as you can weight it to 3/8 oz or more.
We're not even close to the Japanese in tackle versatility, unless we do our own innovation - that's what Joe described in his book.
And I'm still hoping somebody is going to pony up a nice rod on this thread they built from an S-glass fly rod blank.