Here's what you need to know about how to find a fishing sponsor.
The fishing industry can be awfully tough to break into if you don't already have some sort of inside track. Hard work, unlimited practice, tremendous dedication, and a whole lot of luck all have to line up with the odds still stacked against you.
Knowing how to find a fishing sponsor can make this commonly-shared dream a reality, but it isn't as easy as it sounds.
Recently, I witnessed an incident first-hand on Facebook that really turned my stomach. A fishing company posted a private e-mail from someone, on their page, who was asking to represent their company in exchange for sponsorship and free lures. The company then continued to blast this person through comments below the post.
An apology was issued, and the post deleted, but not until it was revealed that the person who sent this e-mail asking for sponsorship was only 14 years old. This company has since gone through great lengths to attempt to set things right from their mistake.
When I first started fishing, something similar happened to me as well, however not so public. The very first e-mail I ever wrote to a fishing company sounded like the one the person above had sent. They responded to me stating, "You have nothing we look for in someone we would sponsor. Try again later."
This fueled an already lit fire in me and I kept fishing, guiding, building my resume, and applying. Eventually, lightning struck and I received my first deal; St. Croix Rods gave me a hat.
This recent event really got me thinking. What would I tell myself if I could go back in time and start over on my fishing path and maybe do things differently? What steps may I have taken first, before ever sending a letter to begin with?
Fortunately, I was able to talk with Brad Rhodes, a tournament fisherman who's main sponsor is Dunamis Rods (he also promotes for Creme Lures). I asked him what steps young anglers might take to better improve their chances on getting sponsored and taking that next big step in their future fishing careers.
The most important thing for a new fisherman to do when looking for sponsors is to make sure the company that they are looking at knows they don't want anything for free. Nothing is free. You have to be able to explain to the company the steps you can take to promote their product and put it in other people's hands. You have to build credibility, along with your resume.
I asked what other advice he may have.
"Younger anglers have to get used to rejection. You just have to get through that," Rhodes laughed. "You have to take it all with a grain of salt. Neither of you lose anything if they tell you no. You just move on to the next one. I've been rejected by several companies. Don't stop using their products just because someone turns you down though, and don't go bash them either. However, when you finally get with a company, out of respect, you just don't use other people's products."
To sum up our conversation, a younger angler must have something to hang their hat on when it comes to asking for sponsorships. The fisherman works for the sponsor, not the other way around.
As stated earlier, the fishing industry can be pretty tough. For some, it's better left to people with thick skin and a willingness to accept a special kind of misery, but for them, it's all they live for. A 20% discount for hours of work is a bargain since getting paid to fish is the goal and just the beginning of the dream.
Up to this point in my life, my most cherished fishing item is that hat from St. Croix. My biggest driving force that keeps me going is that rejection letter that I remember every time I write another article.