If you’re a tackle manufacturer, you can only hope that something you make will get the occasional public shout-out from a pro angler. It takes not just good product development, but also a series of lucky coincidences. You can design the best smallmouth bait ever, but if the tours exclusively visit largemouth venues, it’s probably a no-go. Your product might be used by just about everyone on tour, but if the winners are sponsored by competing companies, you’re not going to get much love, even if they’re using your cricket on the sly.
So what are the chances of a manufacturer’s new product getting some love in two straight major derbies?
It’s not impossible if you make something that’s not only widely-applicable, but also perceived as a best in class. It could be a 6XD if there’s a group of ledge tournaments, some sort of beaver bait if the flip bite is on, or a Senko in the spring (or just about any time for that matter). You’ll notice that all of the examples I provided are baits. That’s because they have far more sex appeal than just about any other product out there, as well as the ability to inspire immediate purchases. No one buys a boat simply because someone won an Elite Series event with it. If any of those, “I couldn’t have brought this winning stringer back without my [XXXXX] motor” have ever directly produced a single sale, I’d be shocked. Rod and reel purchases are likely more impulsive, but it’s still harder to spend $100-300 on a whim than in is to spend $5 to $20 on a lure.
The folks at VMC should be super-jazzed with the way that their season ended. Not only did two of their pros – Ott DeFoe and Seth Feider -- win the last two tournaments of the year, but they did it while relying heavily on a product that the company introduced at ICAST – their new Neko Rig hook. I haven’t tried it yet, so this is definitely not a personal endorsement, but to be quite honest they don’t need my imprimatur after those two hammers cleaned up with it and made its value to them quite clear.
When was the last time that a specific item of terminal tackle got so much credit for an Elite Series win?
When was the last time that item was just-introduced?
And when was the last time such a new item was credited for back-to-back wins?
It takes a perfect storm of scheduling, weather, sponsorship and more than a little bit of luck for that to happen.
If you’re a terminal tackle company, the best you can usually hope for is a quick blurb in the “Winning Gear” or “Notes and Quotes” section. The VMC guys got the equivalent of a full-page ad in Bassmaster.