Let me begin by saying, you are not measured by your short-term accomplishments and failures. Instead, it’s these events over time that truly matter. Lately I’ve been discussing sponsorship, and I want you to realize the opinions I hold are mine and mine alone. Everyone’s experiences are different, yet I do think there are certain truths that are universal across the industry. One item I reiterate is that targeting partners is tough, and full of failures. If a company doesn’t pick you up, use it as motivation to create better content, become a better angler, work on your selling points. You didn’t get into this game for sponsorships, you got into this game to catch bass.
After 9 years, I feel as though I am just skimming the surface of the industry and partnerships. During the off-season, I worked hard to update my resume to present myself in the best light. I picked up Beast Coast Fishing, a producer of terminal tackle and plastics, and am currently working to prove myself with a rod company.
Recently, I picked up a new partner, one that has been hard to keep quiet. After much anticipation, I am extremely grateful to say that I am now a member of the AFTCO family. It is not an accident that I approached AFTCO for a partnership. Working in the fishing industry carriers much responsibility, ideals that I do not take lightly. Since I began fishing as a sophomore at Hampden-Sydney College, I knew my purpose was to find some way to make a career out of fishing. I knew without the home-grown knowledge and a late start that the professional ranks were a reach, but it was easy to see that I wanted to give back to the industry that has done so much for me over the past few years. That’s where AFTCO came in, a company sharing the same principles of conservation, because where are we going without those who believe in conserving the sport for the future. We could use more purpose-driven businesses like AFTCO.
Let’s take a step back and look at the beginnings of one of the most successful, American fishing companies to date. Milt Shedd, founder of AFTCO, was a revolutionary in saltwater sportfishing’s history. Prior to 1952, the way to catch a California striped marlin was to troll dead flying fish on the surface. Milt was constantly tinkering with new ways to catch these ocean creatures. While cleaning marlin for the dinner table, Shedd often noticed that flying fish were not on the menu for the striped marlin, but instead he found mackerel, sardines, and anchovies just to name a few. He found in throwing live mackerel, the catch percentage went up dramatically. As reported in SportFishing Magazine in their January 2000 article reviewing important fishing firsts in saltwater fishing from 1900-2000, “With 200 boats in the So Cal fleet, Milt and his two friends caught 5 of the 8 fish caught on that day.” It did not take long for others to follow Milt’s lead, and sight casting for marlin quickly became common practice in So. Cal.
The business was started by a man name J.C. Axelson. He had a large manufacturing business and couldn’t find the right roller guides for the job of saltwater fishing. He ended up developing it in the basement of his own home. He called the company AFTCO, and in 1973 Milt Shedd and his wife bought the company. By 1974, Bill Shedd, current President of AFTCO joined the business. From a 2400 square foot rented building, the company now owns a 170,000 square foot building. The epidemy of the American Dream. In 2000, the company officially trademarked what many had began to assume, AFTCO stood for American Fishing Tackle Company.
In 2018, AFTCO made a splash into the freshwater fishing industry. In doing so, they picked up pros such as of Bassmaster Elite Pros Jason Christie and Russ Lane, FLW pros like Scott Martin and Michael Neal.
This spring, AFTCO also introduced its women’s line. The company is just getting started, and just scraping the surface of what’s to come.
I encourage you to give the brand a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also check out their diverse range of apparel at Aftco.com. I will be slowly introduce you to products on my personal channels, so stay tuned!