The last time I brought up the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) was back in July when they stupidly paid for baseball hall of famer, Johnny Bench, to speak at the ICAST show in Las Vegas.
But, in all fairness, I have fewer problems with their choice of speakers at the upcoming “Sportfishing Summit” in Fort Myers, Florida (October 16-18), a somewhat pompously titled industry event where some go fishing because they love it but most play golf because that’s what they do.
The net result of this poorly disguised junket will be the same as always – nothing. However, the keynote speaker Kaihan Krippendorff, author of the book, “Outthink the Competition”, brings an interesting message to the fishing industry. Unfortunately, poor Krippendorff doesn’t realize that his “outthink” message – delivered to this audience – is the ultimate oxymoron. (I could spend several sentences defining “oxymoron” but I think everyone understands the “moron” part.)
To me, outthinking anyone demands a strategy and therefore, opinions. Real opinions. Not the spineless variety regularly endorsed by the fishing industry such as “Clean water is good” or “Kids are the future”, but something with teeth to it. This, of course, brings us back to the crushing silence exhibited by the industry in regards to tournament bans of the Alabama rig.
To my knowledge, not one industry leader has stepped up and voiced any opinion concerning the blatant hijacking of our sport by a relatively small cadre of self-serving competitive anglers. If you’re wondering why this A-rig situation is so damn important, consider this:
Every five years or so, something streaks over the bass fishing landscape like a burning meteor, generating excitement, enthusiasm and sales in its wake. Whether it’s a whole new way of doing things such as flippin’, a new chapter of an existing discipline such as dropshotting or simply a unique lure such as the Big O, Gitzit, Pop-R, Castaic Trout – the list goes on – the point is painfully obvious: These moments of absolute white-hot intensity are fleeting.
Those who market and sell the products must act quickly, nurturing, promoting and creating press for the concept. If the first year yields positive results, if the public is on board, the next few years are crucial to its growth potential throughout the entire industry. Granted, even the hottest meteor will cool over time; that’s the nature of the beast. But, if the fishing industry has done its job, this concept or lure will ultimately become a standard in every angler’s tackle box. If the next meteor appears just about then, it’s called “sustained growth”.
Oh, did I mention that having professional bass fishermen promoting the meteor is really important in today’s marketplace? Actually, it was critical in yesterday’s marketplace except that professionals back then possessed fully-functioning cohones.
So, back to the lingering question: Why has no company stepped up and said anything about banning the one thing generating more excitement and sales than any other meteor in recent memory?
Seriously, I’m asking the industry: What am I missing? Other than Kevin VanDam, what other pro has the power to hold any company hostage? Why would you cut the A-rig phenomenon off at the knees before you had the time to reap the benefits? Why is no one talking?
If I had to issue a pass, I guess I would give it to Mann’s Bait Company because they had the vision and Paul Elias did his talking on the water. Still, it is a weird dynamic that keeps these companies silent. As far as I know, none of the anglers who openly lobbied against the A-rig have been penalized for their insubordination. That’s right. If someone sponsors you, they have that option. If you are working against the best interests of the company, you should get canned.
For all of the industry parasites sucking the blood of the Alabama rig phenomenon, I wish you nothing but shanked drives and triple bogeys. You are an embarrassment to fishing and probably to Arnold Palmer. By your collective silence, you have doomed the A-rig to an early grave.
This October, please remember this Mr. Fishing Industry Executive: On the golf courses of Florida, as you scrub the only balls you own, please don’t take this “outthinking” philosophy too far. If your A-rig strategy is any evidence of how you deal with innovation, I’m afraid your interpretation of “outthinking” is putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger.