Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at [email protected]
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October 31, 2014
An Expert Picks His Products — Part 1
by Stan FagerstromI'm one of the luckiest old timers who ever picked a tangled backlash out of his level wind reel.
And when I mention luck, I'm not thinking of the wondrous opportunities I've had to fish from the Amazon to Alaska or the fish I've put in the boat from Nevada to New Zealand.
What's kicking around in my head as I sit down to do this column is just how fortunate I've been to get to know some of the guys you don't often read about in the fishing reports.
But the men I have in mind are every bit as important in the fishing world as those who do get the headlines — even more so. The men I'm thinking about are those who operate behind the scenes. They are the men who create and oversee the production of the lures you, me and those dudes who do get to walk away with the tournament trophies use to put fish in the boat.
When I mentioned my good fortune, I was thinking of a few such individuals I've been especially blessed to be able to call my friends. I want to tell you about just one of them in this and my next column.
The man I have in mind was still in the fingerling stage when he got his introduction to bass fishing. His dad used to take him along on his fishing adventures near the family home at Lake Hamilton down in Arkansas. By the time he was 12 years old, he was into tying his own flies and polishing the skills required to put fish in the boat.
Four years later when he was 16, he took Mark Davis — a winning bass tournament pro you have read about — for his first ride in a bass boat. Mark was 13 at the time. The man I'm writing about stayed associated with the tools required for bass fishing when he was out of school in the summertime by working at a local sporting goods store.
This kid was just as good with the figures and facts he encountered in school as he was with his bass baits. He graduated from Lake Side High School at Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1978, was in the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at the University of Arkansas and graduated in 1982 with a degree in accounting. He went on to become a CPA, a craft he was engaged in for the next 14 years.
Fortunate indeed are those relatively few individuals who are able to merge their God given talents with the love they have for their favorite recreational interests. I make that comment in part based on my own good fortune to have done much the same thing.
That's exactly what the man I'm writing about has done. Today this man, Allan Ranson, has been with the Strike King Lure Company, headquartered at Collierville, Tennessee, for the past 18 years. Since 1997, he has been the company's chief operating officer. He became a minority owner in 2002 and today is in charge of all Strike King operations except sales.
Ask anyone who knows him as I do and they'll tell you — Allan is also one of the most respected and well liked individuals in his field of endeavor. In the beginning, I mentioned how fortunate I felt having had opportunity to get to know a few of the individuals who operate behind the scenes in the field of fishing lure production. Allan Ranson is the very first of these individuals who came to mind. I'm proud to call him my friend.
I could probably devote the next three pages to detailing why I feel as I do about Allan, but I'm only going to get into one of the thoughts knowing him immediately brings to mind.
If you know a bass from a bullfrog, you're aware of the up front and center place the Strike King Lure Company plays in the role of fishing lure production. The company has provided more than its share of the tools that some of the nation's top bass anglers have used in their record-setting careers.
It was a question I once asked Allan that provided the primary basis for what you're reading right now, and the theme that will be continued in my next two columns. The question was simply this: "What three Strike King lures would you select, my friend, if that's all you could use on your next three bass fishing trips?"
Just pretend, if you will, that you're standing in Allan's boots as you attempt to answer that question. Here you are, a much respected top executive at one of the country's top fishing lure producers. You could walk through the front door of the Strike King Lure Company today and walk out with all the lures you could carry with no questions asked.
But what would you select if you could only take away three? And why would you select them? The more experienced you are, the more difficult it would probably be to answer. That's because you know darn well what's really more important on any bass fishing trip is that it's what those fickle buggers with the big mouths want that really counts.
I posed that three lure question to Allan Ranson earlier this year. He took some time to answer. I could hardly wait to find out what his answers were going to be. That's partly because I'm fully familiar with his background. I knew just how broad is the base of experience and knowledge from which his selections were to be made.
Allan, you see, besides being immersed daily with reams of intricate details regarding bass lures and an almost unlimited knowledge of the variety of techniques in which these lures are used, is just as deeply involved as a bass angler himself. He has spent darn near as much time in a bass boat as some of the pros. And some of the estimated 2,600 days he has spent in those bass boats has been in company with some of the bass fishing pros whose names you'd recognize in a heartbeat.
He fishes just as much as you and I do — maybe more. And as his father did when he was a kid, Allan does a lot of fishing, including several youth tournaments each year, with his two teenaged sons. Besides bass, he has fished for everything from peacock bass in the Amazon to trout and salmon in the Rockies and Alaska. He has caught tarpon in Florida and Costa Rica, bonefish in Mexico and the Bahamas as well as steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.
So what was Allan Ranson's answer to that question I posed? If you're a bassin' man yourself, you're probably as interested as I was in hearing what he has to say. Stay tuned. I'll provide the answers in next month's column.
Besides telling me what those three lure categories are, Allan also provided the reasons for his answers. I will share this much with you right now.
One of his answers will probably bring some immediate action on your part — I know it already has on mine.