we introduced you to a few professional anglers who talked about how the fishing skills they bring to the table help shape fishfinding electronics. Avid fisherman and veteran boating writer Lenny Rudow concludes the discussion below.
By Lenny Rudow
Gathering on-the-water intel is great, but, of course, everyone already knows that the main reason electronics manufacturers have pros and ambassadors is for marketing purposes . . . right? Even here, there’s more to the relationship than meets the eye.
Carlson’s Two Conchs Sportfishing
outfit is an excellent example. The organization runs over 20 boats and takes out 500 charters a month in the busy season. That’s a lot of amateur angler eyeballs, all seeing Furuno’s gear in action.
"The customers notice,” Captain Jack Carlson says, "and on top of that we have fishing schools where part of what we teach is how to use things like the bird mode for radar. We have a bottom fishing day, and we show them how to read the bottom machine. By the end of the school they’ve all gotten to use our Furuno
gear and become familiar with how the systems work.”
Captain Mark Henderson of the Liquid Fire Fishing Team
, which has both tournament angling and charter service components and is integrated with Simrad
, sees the same sort of benefit all the time.
"One of the opportunities we get is when a Simrad owner or someone thinking about buying a Simrad reaches out to me via social media, text, or a phone call,” Henderson says. "They’re often looking for confirmation on something in which they’re about to invest their hard-earned money. Or, they may be needing some insight into how to do a very specific action on their unit—I generally turn that over to my sons Joshua or Crockett, as they’re way smarter than me. But on the whole I see this as part of our relationship with Simrad, even though they may not know some of these conversations are going on behind the scenes. The way I see it, it’s part of our job and our appreciation for allowing us to be part of a special team.”
It would seem at first blush as though the electronics manufacturers are the big winners in these relationships. Pros and ambassadors are helping them sell their gear in a myriad of ways, and at the same time showing them how to improve their products. In the long run, this should boost customer satisfaction as well as sales. Of course, there is a quid pro quo. In some cases payment is involved, but this is usually related to personal appearances and time spent working at events. Of course there are exceptions, but most commonly the pro or ambassador gets his or her gear at either a drastically reduced discount or for free. However, that’s not the only benefit they derive from the arrangement. Not by a longshot.
"There’s some similarity in modern electronics across the board, but I’m confident with Garmin
gear,” says tournament angler Tim Gray of the Beeracuda Fishing Team
. "And on top of that they’re responsive. From a support standpoint, which is a key factor as a pro, I know that within 24 hours I’ll get a response from Garmin. Through all the supply chain shortages we’ve had lately they’ve still been great about us getting gear, certainly better than most. And I just love working with Garmin because the gear itself is so easy to use. If you can operate an iPhone you can use it, and they’re constantly making it better. There’s no company I’d rather be working with.”
Plus, looking at the financial perspective, many of these pros are saving money not only on electronics but on their entire angling package. In fact, it’s rare to find a pro who’s only on one company’s list. Two Conchs, for example, has relationships beyond Furuno with a dozen or so companies including the likes of Yellowfin Yachts, Mercury Marine, and Shimano. On top of working with Simrad and SiriusXM
, the Liquid Fire Fishing Team also works with JL Audio
and others. Most pros have a web of relationships with a number of manufacturers who don’t compete directly, but often may work hand in hand in certain ways.
"The relationships combine with other partners and help to establish a cohesiveness between companies,” Henderson says. "We’re partnered with Simrad but we’re also partnered with SiriusXM. The crossover in the hardware and software between these two companies is a very good match, and we’ve used our relationships to help develop cool new technology that’s then introduced to the masses. When the WM-4 was introduced so that SiriusXM Fish Mapping could be used on Simrad units, the two companies made sure we got some of the first units so we could test both together. We were able to provide feedback, and the products were really dialed in before their release to recreational anglers.”
Across the board, the fishing pros consider these aspects of the relationship just as important as any part of the financial cost-benefit calculation they may make. Sure, when you put all the gear and discounts together, the benefit to the pros can add up. It may not be a make-or-break factor, but it certainly helps defray some costs for both tournament anglers and charter boat captains. Still, it doesn’t seem to be the financial issues that dominate the relationship. In fact, the intangible rewards can be even more significant.
"You know, as I reflect on the opportunities we’ve had, it really is cool,” says Henderson. "Everyone at Simrad has made us feel like part of their work family and team. Being included in these joint activities is something I never really envisioned, but it’s a true honor to be part of the process. As a fisherperson and boat owner, who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re part of the development of something that will be on thousands of boats worldwide?”
"It’s a joy every time I start the boat,” adds pro Mike Deto of Daybreaker Offshore Charters
. "Every time I see all those machines light up, I’m impressed. I think about all the tiny advantages they add up to, and how fortunate I am to enjoy them.”
Carlson boils it down to the simple basics. "It’s fun to test out new stuff, and what’s even more fun is to see your work, your input, come to life.”
About the author
Lenny Rudow has been a boating writer for more than 20 years. He writes regularly for several marine publications and websites, including BoatUS, Texas Fish & Game
, and boats.com
. Lenny owns Marine Editorial Services and FishTalkMag.com
based in Edgewater, MD, and is past president and a current board member of Boating Writers International.