Sponsors & Supporters
Shimano is without a doubt the most respected name in the modern fishing tackle world. My professional association with Shimano Australia stretches all the way back to the late 1980s, when I first became involved in field testing and designing new tackle for them. During the 1990s, I teamed up with my good mate and highly respected rod crafter, Ian “Barra” Miller, to begin designing a series of Starlo Signature Series rods for Shimano Australia. These have gone on to become incredibly popular and successful, and have helped Shimano to significantly grow its rod market share in this country. I am immensely proud of my long-term association with Shimano, but even if I didn’t have any professional ties whatsoever with this company, theirs is the tackle I would choose to use. In my opinion, there’s Shimano… then there’s everything else. Their gear really is THAT good!
When obsessed fisherman Nick Ikonomou founded “Mad Keen” in 1997, he probably never guessed that his Queensland-bred fishing clothing and merchandise brand would ever reach the heights of success it’s experiencing today. Mad Keen has certainly grown. The brand has also evolved and changed hands in the 20-odd years since it was first established, and Jo and I are extremely proud to be on board as designers, consultants and brand ambassadors. Most exciting of all, we’ve been given considerable freedom to develop our own signature ranges of purpose-made fishing apparel and accessories… You’ll be hearing lots more about these exciting products over the coming weeks, months and years. Meanwhile, as they say: “watch this space”!
At the end of the 1990s, the then-boss of Shimano Australia, John Dunphy, asked my mate Kaj ‘Bushy’ Busch and myself if we’d like to have a crack at designing a uniquely Australian range of soft plastic luress and accessories from the ground up. We jumped at the offer! After 18 months of intensive research and development, the Squidgies range of soft plastics, jig heads and accessories was finally launched, accompanied by part-one of our “Squidgies Secrets” instructional video/DVD series… The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Squidgies remain one of Australia’s favourite soft plastics. Of all my associations in the fishing tackle industry, I am proudest of all to be the co-creator of this phenomenal range of Aussie-designed lures, which I use myself almost every day I’m on the water. While Bushy and I are no longer involved in the design and development of these lures, and no longer receive royalties based on their sale, I continue to use Squidgies by choice and am actively involved in Shimano Australia’s social media and on-line promotions of this range.
After years of mucking around with inferior gear, my first serious, high-quality fly rod was a G.Loomis. Since then, despite having cast and fished with most of the other top brands, I’ve preferred G.Loomis fly rods over all other contenders. Today, I own a clutch of six or seven G.Loomis fly rods and they are always my first choice when chucking fur & feathers. I’ve set three world records using G.Loomis fly rods and see no reason to change.
My association with Yamaha Outboards stretches back to the turn of the new millenium and beyond. I used several other brands of motor before finally settling on Yamaha, and it was feedback from independent outboard mechanics that finally swung me across. Several of them told me that Yammies are simply engineered better, more strongly-built, and use higher quality metals and components than any other motor on the market. I have never regretted my switch to Yamaha and have literally come to trust their products with my life. Yamaha Outboards get me there and bring me home safely every single time. Almost as importantly, their 4-strokes do that job quietly, smoothly, economically and with minimum impact on the aquatic environment… I like that.
It says something about my age that the first sounders I used took rolls of paper and made a strange, burnt-carbon smell as they traced their scratchy, curved images. Against that background of a technology largely unchanged since World War Two, the arrival in Australia of the original X-15 Lowrance units turned the recreational marine electronics scene completely on its head. I knew from the moment I used that first Lowrance in the 1980s that this company was in a league of its own when it came to innovation in sonar technology. I’ve never owned another brand of sounder (although I’ve certainly had the opportunity to use others). I love my Lowrances and they definitely help me catch more fish. That’s good enough for me.
Once upon a time, I knew I’d reached lightly-fished waters when I drove into the local service station for fuel and someone wandered over to ask me what that weird-looking contraption on the front of my boat was. That hardly ever happens these days. Switched-on Aussie sport fishers long ago recognised the importance of a reliable, effective, bow-mounted electric motor (what the Yanks call a “trolling motor”) to facilitate lure and fly casting. These days I’d rather be without my favourite depth sounder, rod and reel or box of Squidgies than my bow-mounted electric motor, and nowadays I choose MotorGuide. There are other brands out there, but the impressive power, virtual silence, unparalleled anchor and the jog features of MotorGuide has convinced me that there’s nothing better on the market.
To be honest, I’ve had a tough run with sunglasses sponsors! I’ve been aboard with at least three or four, all of whom made or still make great products. A couple went out of business or stopped exporting to Australia. Others went through various management changes and switched their emphasis away from fishing to other markets. All the while I was aware of Mako and realised that lots of anglers I respected wore and trusted their glasses. So, in 2012, I tried Makos seriously for the first time… and I really liked them! Better still, their boss, Ian Hoole, is a fisho himself and understands what anglers want… That’ll do me!
My involvement with Native Watercraft kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) is still quite new, but so far I am very impressed indeed! In particular, the Propel propulsion system used in Native Watercraft’s kayaks is absolutely brilliant, allowing hands-free travel along with the very valuable ability to peddle backwards and pull a fish out of a snag. Combined with the inherent stability of these craft, the Propel system puts Native Watercraft in a league of their own, in my opinion. For more info’ and blogs, watch Jo’s website here.
Reditide Trailers, based in Melbourne, make specialised trailers for kayaks, and they do it really well! Getting our own dedicated kayak trailer has made a world of difference to the whole kayak fishing experience for Jo and I. To get a better idea of what these superb trailers are all about, have a look at our short video here, and visit the company’s website at www.redtide.com.au
I’ve been carrying my camera gear in Pelican waterproof cases for about 30 years now. During 2012, my old Pelican (which has been around the world at least three or four times in its three decades of intensive service) finally gave up the ghost and stopped sealing properly. While researching the purchase of a replacement, a camera shop staff member mentioned Pelican’s lifetime warranty and suggested I check it out. I thought that was a bit cheeky, especially considering the hard life my poor old Pelican had lived… but I asked the question anyway. Incredibly, Pelican Australia replaced my veteran case with a brand-spanking new one, no questions asked! (They did offer the comment that they needed to go to the Pelican “museum” to discover exactly what discontinued model my original had been!) I have NEVER experienced service like this from any other manufacturer of any product… ever. Their slogan is: “You break it, we replace it… forever.” And they actually MEAN it! I’m now running one of their giant insulated coolers, too… From the top end of the price range, for sure, but an unbelievably good piece of kit… I guess you get what you pay for! And it genuinely keeps ice for a week-plus, even in high ambient temperatures… Plus, if I can ever work out how to break it, they’ll give me a new one for free. It doesn’t get much better than that in my book.