UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Ouachita

Maximizing exposure

Pro David Walker discusses his harrowing day on the water with Operation Bass host, Charlie Evans. Walker not only hooked into a feisty alligator during the day's competition, but also nearly had to rescue fellow competitor Mark Rose, who ran aground in his boat while traveling at high speeds. Luckily, Walker pointed out, nobody was seriously injured. Incidentally, Walker finished the day in fourth place.

Savvy pros parlay strong fishing and communication skills into winning formula

Last month, communications expert and FLW Tour show producer Jerry McKinnis provided some valuable advice about exposure. This month's column features two anglers who have heeded that advice and launched fishing careers by making the most of exposure opportunities.

The bottom line in the fishing industry is a game of balance. In the sponsor market, fishing ability is meaningless without well-spoken delivery and presence; however, great speakers are worthless without a solid fishing performance record that commands credibility. Anglers who are sharp enough to enhance a respectable fishing performance with efficient communication are the ones who get sponsor contracts.

David Walker, 35, of Cannon, Ky., and Marty Stone, 35, of Linden, N.C., are anglers who have demonstrated an ability to turn their catches into commodities. Both anglers boast a tournament fishing record that is hard to deny as credible. Walker has made 10 top-10 appearances since joining the FLW Tour in 1996. Stone, who began fishing FLW events in 1997, has seven top-10 finishes. To add to their fishing credentials, Walker won Kellogg's Angler of the Year on the FLW Tour in 1999 and Stone has claimed a B.A.S.S. Top 150 victory.

Five years ago, the names David Walker and Marty Stone would have brought blank stares from most guys at a bass club meeting. Today, they are household names on bass fishing's most elite tours.

Both anglers have used the unique FLW format to jump-start their fishing careers. Long before they had paying sponsors, they recognized the value of stage and film exposure offered by the FLW Tour and took advantage of those opportunities. Demonstrating an ability to speak well during those first impressions paid dividends when these anglers sat down at a sponsor's dealing table.

What Walker and Stone have in common is an ability to describe fishing in a language both non-fishermen and fishermen can understand. In doing so, they have captured two audiences.

Both anglers avoid long-winded technical orations littered with fancy fishing jargon. They are not blatant product pushers; consequently, their fishing does not sound like an infomercial. They do not attribute their catches to dumb luck or happenstance.

Instead, these two effective communicators talk about the importance of strategy, decisions, lure choices, weather circumstances and other variables that affect their catch. As a result, their fishing has merit and legitimacy. Bass fishing becomes a clever craft of their own design and that is what gives their activity value to sponsors.

Stone and Walker claim that developing speaking skills in front of crowds and cameras is not something that comes with ease. Both anglers have worked hard to enhance their presentation styles.

Marty Stone admits to being terrified of crowds at one time, but he sent his stage fright packing when he was forced to speak in front of crowds during college. Stone, who has a degree in public recreation and park management with a minor in communication, says that presentations were part of his studies. After 20 major presentations, public speaking had become second nature.

Stone also has a personal presentations coach who critiques his moves - Robin Stone, his wife. Robin Stone has a degree in communication with a minor in media advertising. Since 1997, the Stones have watched Marty's camera performances repeatedly to find areas that he could improve on when speaking on stage or camera.

"She has helped me a tremendous amount with my delivery," admits Stone. "She is very objective about my actions and the signals they send."

Stone also pays particular attention to his autograph-signing interactions.

"To have some one ask you for an autograph is the greatest compliment in the world," says Stone. "As pro anglers we should be respectful and humbled by autograph seekers. That is what separates our sports from all others, one-on-one interaction with fans."

Stone believes the fear of public speaking can be overcome with practice. He recommends that anglers, who are serious about pursuing sponsorship, but are afraid of public speaking, seek out community college courses in public speaking.

While college experience is becoming highly favored among sponsors, it is by no means mandatory. David Walker has received his public speaking education through a hands-on training program, not a college classroom. Walker says being a camera boat driver whenever possible during the FLW Tour's early years made him a quick study on the art of presentation.

"Being around Jerry McKinnis and his camera crews has taught me an incredible amount about the importance of appearance and presence," says Walker. "When you watch a guy fish all day (as a camera boat driver) and then see what ends up on film, you start to get a feel for what effective communication is about."

Walker has also been a student at the weigh-ins and has made meticulous mental notes of how the crowd responds to each angler's comments.

"I like to watch the weigh-ins to see how the anglers present themselves and how the crowd responds," he says. "You would not believe how many of the same goofy catch phrases and one liners are said over and over again. Watching the crowd's responses to such comments taught Walker to avoid them and develop his own style and tone.

"I just answer the questions honestly and directly," comments Walker. "If I catch a big string and want to keep it quiet, I just say I do not want to disclose a location or a bait, instead of telling some gimmicky lie everybody else has heard a thousand times that day."

If you are serious about your bottom line, take a page out of the notebooks of David Walker and Marty Stone. Find creative ways to turn the smallest exposures into positive impressions.

Rob Newell is a freelance outdoor writer from Tallahassee, Fla. He has been actively involved in tournament bass fishing and the professional bass fishing industry, both as participant and a writer, for more than 10 years. He currently fishes as a co-angler on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and contributes to OperationBass.com, Bass Fishing and other fishing publications.

Tags: rob-newell  business-of-fishing 

/tips/2016-02-05-an-ill-wind-at-okeechobee-

An Ill Wind at Okeechobee?

The wind can be a bass fisherman’s best friend or worst enemy. On its best behavior, it creates a temporary current, positions baitfish and helps an angler move around more stealthily in shallow water. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-04-aquatic-plant-id

Aquatic Plant ID

Val Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures and winner of the 2015 Costa FLW Series event on the lake, knows as much about the Big O as anyone and is an expert on finding and targeting bass in its various grasses. When we had the opportunity to ride along with him for a tour of the lake and to learn to identify some of the grasses, it was a no-brainer to accept. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-poche-services-set

Poche Services Set

Funeral services for Dylan Poche, the 18-year-old Bass Fishing League angler who was stabbed to death Saturday night, are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches, La. Visitation will take place at Freedom Life beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-02-time-to-shine-for-setzer

Time to Shine for Setzer

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-02-01-ambassador

Ambassador

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-29-glenn-browne-s-timeout-is-over-

Glenn Browne’s Timeout is Over

By his own admission, Glenn Browne isn’t the most organized guy. After the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, he spent hours returning stuff to its proper place and tossing out the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in a bass boat during a tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-flw-podcast-109-mike-surman

FLW Podcast 109 - Mike Surman

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-28-john-cox-gives-himself-a-makeover

John Cox Gives Himself a Makeover

Last fall there was a rumor going around that John Cox was entering the electronics age and souping up his boat with sonar gear. Just to clear the air, the Florida pro reports that though he did flirt with the notion of incorporating an offshore strategy centered on depth finders into his act, he eventually abandoned the idea. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-austin-felix-is-ready-for-the-big-time

Austin Felix is Ready for the Big Time

Back in the spring of 2014, Austin Felix and his University of Minnesota teammate Chris Burgan were on the top of the FLW College Fishing world. With a win in the National Championship on Lake Keowee, Felix was headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as a pro. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-27-flw-canada-sets-tournament-sites-dates

FLW Canada Sets Tournament Sites, Dates

FLW Canada, one of four partners in FLW’s International Division of the Costa FLW Series, recently released its 2016 tournament schedule. The season includes three two-day regular-season qualifying events and a three-day championship. Anglers fish as two-person teams. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-26-jigging-spoons-for-winter-bass

Jigging Spoons for Winter Bass

Of course, the application of the spoon hinges on finding bass in the first place, which is the biggest challenge. Walmart FLW Tour pros Jason Johnson and Clark Reehm are experts at finding winter bass in their respective regions of the country and offer FLW readers some advice on where to look and how to get them to bite the spoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-24-how-bryan-thrift-got-to-be-so-good

How Bryan Thrift Got to be so Good

My No. 1 focus out here is to support my family and make a living. Whatever I have to do to make that happen, I’m going to make a valiant effort. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-high-school-fishing-makes-the-grade

High School Fishing Makes the Grade

Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark are typical teenagers, at least in everything except bass fishing. In that, they are above average, as the two juniors from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina proved in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open held Jan. 17 on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-flw-mexico-at-the-starting-gate

FLW Mexico at the Starting Gate

Our excitement is so great that we wanted to share this important news with all of you. Believe me, fishermen in Mexico are talking it up as if it were dock talk surrounding the Forrest Wood Cup. What really matters at the end of the line is knowing that FLW is showing its true devotion to promoting bass fishing and making it a truly international sport. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-22-making-the-case-for-haynes-as-aoy

Making the Case for Haynes as AOY

As many have noted, the Walmart FLW Tour schedule for this season looks a lot like it did in 2014. Back then, in his sophomore year on Tour, Randy Haynes had one of the strangest seasons you’ll ever see. He finished 104th at Okeechobee, 149th at Sam Rayburn (ouch) and cranked out top-30 finishes everywhere else. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-21-flw-podcast-108-jason-lambert

FLW Podcast 108 - Jason Lambert

READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-bfl-choo-choo-division-postponed

BFL Choo Choo Division Postponed

The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lake Guntersville originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 has been postponed due to impending inclement weather. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-tigerodz-aligns-with-auburn-team

TIGERODZ Aligns With Auburn Team

Custom fishing rod manufacturer TIGERODZ of Scottsboro, Ala., has signed an agreement to become the official rod brand for the Auburn University Bass Sports Club. Scott Dobbins, president of TIGERODZ, is an Auburn alum, and he says the pairing involved a natural progression of involvement. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-20-becoming-aware-of-your-angler-strengths

Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining. READ MORE »

/tips/2016-01-18-pundits-picks-for-aoy

Pundits Picks for AOY

Winning the Angler of the Year title is a tremendous feat. It can solidify a budding career or affirm a veteran’s status among the best. It also comes with a hefty reward – $100,000 and early entry into the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »