Brady Wright’s smile says it all with this largemouth caught in a local pond. Step-Dad Brady Wright says he’s doing a great job of learning the importance of catch and release. Thanks to John Gillman for sending this wonderful picture in to us!
Trust. Easy concept. But I don’t wonder if “practicing” it is the real challenge.
I tend to be a very trusting person. I really don’t know why, but that’s pretty much just the way I am. If you say you’re going to do something then I, by nature, trust you will do it. Maybe I’m a bit naïve. Dixie sometimes thinks that’s the case. And there have been more than a few times I would have to agree with her. A few memorable times I have been “burned”. But I would rather be trusting and off and on end up disappointed than always be suspicious and suffer the distrust and agony that typically come with such a trait.
So this young guy named Jacob Wheeler was hanging out in our booth at the Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel Show two years ago. This kid was full of energy and had one heck of a personality. No doubt he knew what he was talking about when it came to fishing. He was going places in the fishing industry, just a matter of time. Our store manager, Adam Daywalt, told him to come down to the shop sometime. Fast forward a few months, and it turns out Jacob was planning on becoming a pro fisherman. He needed some support. Maybe a deal on fishing gear. Maybe a few bucks to cover expenses. Something.
As you can imagine we get many, many requests from lots of people who claim to be “fishing pro” and need a deal. And I am empathetic, but we simply can’t support everyone who has a rod, reel, boat, and a dream. We do try to help in some small way, but that never includes up front money or free fishing gear. We just can’t do that as we would soon be on the rough road to financial insolvency.
So when Jacob Wheeler came in I was skeptical. That’s not to say I didn’t trust his enthusiasm or that I didn’t believe he was sincere. But I had heard that song on the radio many times before. As my Dad used to be fond of quoting, “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.”
But at the same time there was something very compelling about this kid. He looked and acted like the “All American Boy”. He was clean cut, neat, and never uttered a cuss word or was impolite. He prayed before every tournament. He knew his station in pro fishing (a beginner). Financially all he had was a small grub stake from his Dad, a used bass boat, and an assortment of rods and reels that he had accumulated over the last few years. But there was this twinkle in his eye. This gleam. That’s what caught my attention. That and the fact that Brian knew him and was impressed by his ability to catch fish when everyone else seemed to be struggling. So we signed him up.
No advance. No percent of winnings. Just an agreement that he would use G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels which we would furnish to him. In return he would make sure our logo was on his jersey and do what he could to promote our store and web site. There was no contract. Nothing was in writing. Just a handshake and a smile. Then he went out and won the FLW Classic last year.
When that happened I figured he would immediately sign on with some big company, some big tackle manufacturer who would lavish him with equipment, a boat and motor, all kinds of gear and possibly a tow truck as well. It turned out I was right about the truck as Toyota stepped up to the plate and offered him a new truck to use. Otherwise the industry reaction was that this big win was a fluke. He had simply gotten lucky. Won a major tournament by chance rather than years of well honed skills.
He fished the whole year and finished in respectable positions, but never won again that year. We continued to support him with gear and from time to time asked him to submit some evaluations on new rods and reels as well as some of the G. Loomis and Shimano gear. He never flinched and was always willing to offer us some feedback, good or bad, whenever we asked.
Last Fall Jacob came to see me and told me he had a big offer for a complete boat, motor, trailer, and all electronics. You would have thought at this point he would have walked away as quickly as he could, but that wasn’t the case. He wanted to stay with us and suggested we explore ways to make that happen. Perhaps one would wonder if this was a tactic where he would play one offer against the other, but I never thought that was the case. He was one honest kid and I, as I said before, was a pretty trusting guy. When he left that day we had agreed to get him into a new boat, motor, trailer and all the requisite electronics necessary to make sure this year he would not be competing at a disadvantage.
Once again, there was no contract. We furnished him a brand new Ranger boat and trailer with an Evinrude motor and all the electronics, Power Poles, etc. that would give him an outfit so he could compete with the best “name” tournament pros this season. He had his pick of G. Loomis, Shimano, and any other lines we carry to load up his arsenal. Simply put, we trust him to do the right thing and hopefully bring attention to our company’s products, service, and customer dedication to fishermen who may not be familiar with us.
Well, as they say “the rest is history”. Jacob has finished close to the top in most of his tournaments, only missing out being named “Rookie of the Year” due to misunderstanding his weigh-in time at an important tournament. He was penalized 10 lbs (!) and instead of winning the tournament finished back in the field. That little hiccup cost him the tournament and substantial first place purse as well as the “Rookie of the Year” title. But rather than be discouraged and blame someone or something else for this mistake, he took it in stride and soldiered on. His dedication and confidence never wavered.
So two weeks ago he fishes the Granddaddy of fishing tournaments, the FLW Forrest Wood Cup and wins! This was like winning the Super Bowl of fishing. The prize? $500,000! And so much publicity. So much attention. He was the youngest angler ever to win this. And his margin of 7 lbs, 5 oz was the greatest margin ever in the history of this prestigious tournament. Are we proud of Jacob? You Bettcha’!
Of course, we know he may get some fantastic offers after this. And we trust he will do the right thing. If that somehow includes us that will be great. If not, we completely understand. Very likely there will be offers that are too good to be true. Too good to pass up. But in all of this we know that the relationship we have (and will always have) is one of trust and respect. How could anyone ask for anything more?
This issue we have some great news! New G.Loomis GLX Flipping and Crankbait models, with a free Collector’s Edition G. Loomis Catalog Offer. We also have received the brand new NRX Lite Presentation Fly Rods that are absolutely fabulous. The new G. Loomis Luggage Bag is now available for pre-order. This bag is first class quality and is a must have for the Loomis enthusiast.
American Legacy has been lucky enough to receive a few of the 2013 Daiwa Steez EX Spinning reels with a free Daiwa Columbia shirt offer. Details are below.
We had a pleasant surprise this week. Jacob Wheeler stopped by for a visit and to check out all the new G. Loomis, Shimano and Daiwa we received in this past week to add to his ever growing arsenal. Here’s a short interview about his recent win as well as techniques used to get him this monumental win: http://youtu.be/HMp-43FgG_Y
As Fall slowly approaches we have some great stuff we will be telling you about in future issues. It will be a very exciting Fall and we hope everyone will join us for the ride. Once again we want to thank everyone for their support. We are here only because of your friendship and patronage. It is very, very much appreciated!