Sponsorship – By Jason Houchins
What a broad term in the world of bass fishing. This topic can give you all types of opinions and reactions with no clear right or wrong answers. I do know this you can’t attend a club tournament these days without seeing a hundred dollar jersey of some kind promoting something. How many of these guys are really sponsored? What do they get for compensation? Does a bag of worms count as compensation? I honestly don’t know and probably never will, but it does bring up some good conversation on this subject.
First my opinion on this is pretty strait forward, sponsorship to me means money. I can’t buy gas or pay an entry fee with a bag of worms although I can keep from buying it. So I guess product is money to most fisherman, but I can’t help but feel something is not right with that whole deal. If a guy says I want you to run this boat brand and I’m going to give you “X” dollar amount off to do so, that’s pretty good, depending on what “X” is. This could also be said for all other products such as rods, reels, lures, motors, and the list could go on. The key to this is “X” and it seems that is always a huge secret in the world of bass fishing.
For 90% of us and for the most part very little of this has to do with actual fishing success or fishing skill, but it can help. It honestly has more to do about personal relationships and what you can do for your sponsor. At one time I had actual sponsorship with 4 different companies within the fishing industry, all were because of personal relationships. I’m not KVD so people are not going to beat down my door to have me do anything, and so I must pursue this myself. I’m sure most of us have a totally misguided perception of what we think “X” should be. At first I thought all the pros got all things totally free and everything paid for, man was I totally wrong about that. It really makes you wonder how in the world these guys do it, just for one season.
Talking with a few anglers that I have known for years who fish at or near the top of tournament fishing tell me it has become so hard to get any type of a good deal on anything these days. The economy is bad of course and all of the industry from bass boats to fishing line has been affected. They also feel like the market controls sponsorship just like it would control the price of gold, supply and demand. This market is tough and getting tougher because of the popularity of tournament angling and everyone wanting a piece of the sponsorship pie, from an Elite Series angler to the guy fishing the local club event. Most of us that are weekend warriors and we bust our tail all week just to get to fish. Now if we can get a 25% discount on something, naturally we are going to take it and be proud. In doing this we don’t realize how we are collectively changing the landscape of sponsorship for all fisherman from top to bottom. Several of the top level guys have really started thinking outside of the box recently in order to acquire what is needed to support a tournament career at the top levels. Which is great for everyone and really expands the sport even more, although it does make it even more difficult for someone to even think of pursuing a tournament career. If you do, at least some new avenues may be open that were not say five years ago.
Sponsorship – By Jason Houchins