Showing posts with label money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money. Show all posts

My Thoughts:Trolling Motors in Kayak Tourneys

I posed the question last week, "Should trolling motors be allowed in kayak tourneys?".
It's time I weighed in.

Last week was fun. Watching the discussions take place, civility prevailing in most instances and people sharing their thoughts. That was the ultimate goal. Decisions were being made in future tournaments without a large group of people being talked to about it. That gave me pause and I wanted to know, not just have a gut feeling, what the majority would like to see in tournaments.

A few caveats before I weigh in. I am just one guy. This is just my opinion. If you keep reading and you get a little angry, please take a deep breath and realize the world keeps turning if we disagree. I don't run tournaments so you are in no danger of me fouling up what you are doing or may want to do in the future. I've thought a lot about this. I know there will always be outlying situations, exceptions made and that's good. We should never be too rigid so when circumstances out of the norm arise we can be inclusionary rather than exclusionary. This opinion is based on most of the people in most of the tournaments most of the time and my experiences over the last decade. Mine. Yours may have been different. Mine.

This issue has two pretty well defined lines that ultimately helped me make my decision (opinion). The first is kayak propulsion. The second is state regulations.

Kayak propulsion can be divided into two distinct categories: human propelled and not human propelled. Whether you move the kayak through the water with your arms or legs, the human body exerts energy to make the kayak move. Sometimes that uses pedals. Sometimes that uses a paddle. Either way, without an exertion from kinetic motion from a human body, the kayak doesn't go. Sails are a different discussion for a different day. The question is trolling motors.

A trolling motor on a kayak is not human propelled. Little to no exertion is needed to move from one place to another. To me, that is a defining line.

State regulations are another. Though some states differ, the prevailing law is that a water vessel with a motor, electric or gas, must be registered, classifying it as a motor powered vessel. That's a pretty big line. The state of Texas obviously feels there is a significant difference between a kayak and a kayak with a trolling motor. Different rules apply.

Many have cited, well what about a wounded veteran, who is an amputee and can't but wants to compete? These would be exceptions that would have to be granted by the tourney directors and written into the bi-laws. It should also state that in very specific language. That is part of the flexibility I talked about earlier. I do have one friend who has no legs and loves to fish. I visited with him about the question at hand. He stated it would become problematic if there were lots of wind because he would not be able to brace against anything going into the wind. It makes sense and was something I had not thought about. That would be an obvious exception that could be made.

Age has also been thrown around as a line but that supposed line is very blurry. I fish with several guys over 60 who can paddle circles around others. Should we assume that all people 60 and older are frail, can't keep up and should be coddled in their own division or allowed other means like a trolling motor? I know my friends would not and do not want to be treated differently. They also constantly put the whoop down on the younger guys.

So enough circling. Prepare the hate mail if you wish. Here is how I see it.

Trolling motors should not be allowed under normal circumstances in kayak tournaments. At that point, it's a boat tournament, not a kayak tournament. Should there be rare exceptions? Sure, as left up to the tournament directors discretion there should be. It should be rare though.

If you advertise yourself as a kayak tournament, no trolling motors. If you are a fishing tournament, have divisions or whatever you want. Be clear with what your goals are, what your participants can expect and do not hide it in the fine print. Be up front.

Thinking About a Small Business? Start Here.

Supporting small businesses is important to me. Those dollars you give for that product don't go to fund a yacht; they pay for dance lessons for a daughter or the new alternator on the truck. These folks work hard. They deserve a look when you're in the market. They will be the ones who answer the phone if you have a problem with the product down the road. It's hard and almost near impossible to get that with larger companies. A special mention to some of my friends in small business at Mariner SailsHag's Tornado BaitsYakAttackHOOK1, Papa Chops Rod and Reel Repairand SuperNova Fishing Lights.


You probably know a small business owner. Heck, you may know several. According to the Small Business Association, America is experiencing a significant rise in small business, cottage industry startups. Unlike the dotcom boom of the 1990s to early 2000s, these are typically not money grab startups. Most of the small businesses that are cropping up are about passion. Whether it's a rod making business, shirt printer, custom lures or fishing accessories, new businesses enter the marketplace everyday. You've probably been asked to "Like" a Facebook page for some of them. You've probably bought some of their stuff because it's a new twist on a technique or look. Not all will succeed however.

Lots of these companies start as or maybe still are garage start-ups. All the money they make is poured back into the business and sometimes the owners work another job to supplement it. They believe in their idea that much. They like to have quality control close at hand because the name on the package is a direct reflection on them. But passion is not enough. Lots of passionate people fail.

A good business plan will go a long way. After successfully selling a couple of products, a savvy owner will do a return on investment calculation (and many already have done a predictive ROI before the first sell). If it takes 10 hours and $24 worth of materials to make a rod and you sell it for $44 you may be "making" $20 but you are also only paying yourself $2 an hour. If you are after money, you can make almost four times that working a side job at the minimum wage. If it's a hobby and the money isn't important that might work. Just breaking even is enough for some folks. Only you can decide. If you are looking at expanding past a hobby business where you are the only labor cost, this model will fail.

Price point is another make or break. Entering the marketplace at the right tier level can set you up for success or failure. Have some outside sources, not your best friends and fishing buddies, give you a valuation. How much would they pay for this new bait? What companies would they compare it to? You need to know your competition. If I pour a plastic worm that looks like a Yamamoto Senko and sell it for the same price, will people buy it? Doubtful. Why not by the proven bait at that price. If it cost half, then you might get some looks. Even Yamamoto does this. He has his signature GYCB at the $6-8 price point and then the Kinami line that is a couple of dollars cheaper. He is offering product at different price points.

Volume is also important. If you sell expensive items, you'll move fewer but will have more money per transaction. Basically, you may only have to sell a couple of products to collect $1,000. If you sell $3 crankbaits, you may sell lots of them but you will need to sell over 300 to hit the $1,000 mark. It just depends on the product.

Understanding the customer is perhaps the least known entity in business today. Just because you cater to fishermen does not mean they are all the same. More specifically, it doesn't mean they all purchase products the same. The market is made up of three different types of customers. I won't go into great detail here but I'll give you some high level info.

Let's start with Bobby. Bobby is a young guy, usually between 18-29, single with some disposable income. He likes new things.

Next is Joe. Joe is the most common customer. He is 25-55, usually married and middle class. Joe works hard for his money. He likes new things but does his research, sometimes to his detriment, on new products.

Last is Terry. Terry is 30-65, married or single, but makes his own money decisions. If he wants to make a purchase, he does so without asking anyone else. Terry is typically middle to upper middle class if not wealthy.

All three of these customers can overlap in some areas. Some Terry customers will be a little older. Some Bobby customers will be older as well. Joe, however, is pretty standard across the board. In most markets across the US, Joe will be 65% of your purchases (once he finally decides to buy).

As a small business owner, you should know how to sell, market and advertise to these different customers. All three of these types have female counterparts too (Ashley, Mary and Karen respectively). The same strategy rarely works for all 3 (or 6) customers. Knowing how to present your product to each one, differently, will allow you to close more purchases.

  If you want to know more, shoot me an email or a Facebook message. It is a ton of info so be prepared. Maybe a seminar is in order. Hmmmm.

Not all small businesses will make it but if you know and execute these strategies, you'll have a much better chance.

Business Plan.
Volume Expectations.
Knowing Your Customer.

Do you know/have all of them?

Pedal vs Paddle

America, and most of the world, craves polarization. Whether it's subconscious or completely knowing, people want to know where you stand on certain things.

Are you Republican or Democrat?
Are you Pro Choice or Pro Life?
Are you pro carbs or anti-carbs?
Are you Baptist, Aetheist or Catholic?
Are you a pedal or paddle kayaker?

As you can see, while we want everyone to be one or the other, if we are answering for ourselves, you might be a third or fourth option which isn't given. I know Libertarians, moderates, Methodists and folks who can enjoy both sides of the pedal vs paddle showdown.

Having a bit of research scientist in me, I did a little experiment over at a few weeks back to see if my hypothesis was correct. I set up a poll and asked if money were no object and you could have any one kayak which one would you choose.

With all the us vs them, pedal vs paddle rhetoric that floats around, I was expecting the paddlers to step up and stay firm. If they truly felt paddle kayaks were "truer to the sport" and pedal yaks were "not even a real kayak" as I had heard, the polls should be widely distributed among Wilderness Systems, Ocean Kayaks and others. I expected the pedal guys with Hobies and Natives to of course choose those. I expected about 15% to be Native and Hobie combined if the rhetoric were to hold true.

It didn't.

41% of the people participating in the poll chose a Hobie with a Mirage drive. Another 16% chose a Native with a propel drive. The comments were valuable as well. So many of them talked about money. "Well, if you're giving me $3,000, I'll take a PA," (Hobie Pro Angler).

57% of the people participating chose to get a kayak with pedals. Interesting.

So what do I make of this?

While we all have ideas around what we think kayaking is, when the rubber meets the road, what actually plays a large part is money. Of course! If I asked 100 middle class folks if they were in favor of raising the taxes on the rich so the tax burden could be lessened on those less fortunate, I'd bet a large pizza that most of them would say yes. But after they answered you explained that rich meant above the poverty line, their tune would change. Anytime you add or take away money from an equation it changes how people feel. By taking money out of the equation in the poll question, die hard paddle for life guys would purchase a Hobie or Native.

It happens everywhere in life. Think about driving down the highway. I see $125K sports cars and think to myself, "I would never spend my money on that!" if I were to ever have that kind of expendable income. But maybe I would. If I won the lottery to the tune of $350 million dollars, would I think about that car differently? Maybe so. Maybe not. But, when the money is neutralized in the situation, I am much less quick to dismiss the idea.

Kayaking isn't that much different. We have become a community of haves and have nots. Some guys use a $99 fish finder, some use nothing, and some have $2,000 units on their kayak. Is one right or wrong? No, but $99 guy usually has an opinion about $2K guy. Notice I said the guy. On the water we often draw conclusions about people based on appearance. A pedal kayak with an 1198 Humminbird, all Daiwa Steez equipment and nice clothes means a guy is unapproachable and a rich snob to many. Is that fair? No. But it happens every day. It's almost a reverse segregation.

Chances are the guy in that "fancy kayak" doesn't look down on someone in a $200 kayak. Almost every single person I know that has a decked out kayak goes out of their way to be friendly. I have had them show me their graph and point exactly where to throw, during a tournament! I have had these same guys show me rock piles and road beds as well. They only ask I don't broadcast it.

It's prejudging. We've all heard don't judge a book by its cover. Do many of us live by it? No, not really. We have a desire to compartmentalize people and things. We want to profile with just a glimpse. Have you ever assumed someone was a certain gender or age while they drive in front of you? Maybe saying something like," Get out of the way grandpa!"? I have. And then I pass them and lo and behold it's a 16 year old, nervous out of their mind with Dad in the passenger seat. Suddenly I have more compassion and empathy for the situation and may even feel a little bad for being upset. Why? What changed? It was because I could relate.

Money can drive a wedge in anything. It's the leading cause of divorce, lost friendships and splitting communities. I'm not convinced we will ever get away from that but we can change how we act publicly.

Money appears to be the reason more people aren't pedaling and are still paddling. This doesn't fit 100% but it does apply more than it doesn't. If given the option to purchase a Hobie Quest for $800 or a Hobie Outback with Mirage drive for $800 (see, neutralizing the money), very few Quests would be sold. Versatility is important but when it costs more, each individual has to decide if it is worth it.

The natural reaction is to defend against your current position. My Facebook feed is filled with political commentary. The problem is, it isn't filled with Republicans or Democrats saying what they have done that is helping people, but rather what the opposite party is doing that they don't agree with. We make ourselves feel better by lowering the opposing party. Kayaking is no different.

Lack of money, jealousy and prejudging cause a lot of class warfare. Paddle kayakers tend to poke fun, tease and even badger pedal kayakers about how they aren't real kayakers. The arguments of whether they should even be allowed in tournaments comes up every year too. It's not fair is heard a lot. Pedal kayakers either tell them they are jealous, try to convince them why it's awesome or just keep their mouths shut. So ask the hard question and really examine yourself for the answer. If I GAVE you a brand new Hobie Pro Angler tomorrow, decked out with whatever electronics you liked, no strings attached, would you feel differently? Oh you don't like the PA? How about a Slayer Propel from Native? Think about it. There will be a few who really aren't interested but only a few. It's a money thing.

Pedal vs Paddle isn't really a debate over what is good for the sport, what the word "kayak" really means, or who is doing it right. I firmly believe it comes down to money at the root of it all. We make ourselves feel better about our current situation by trying to reduce the status of others. Pedals and paddles have their place. So do the people that own them. Be kind on the water. Don't judge. The newbies are watching and learning from our behavior. Is it something we want to continue in the future?

Full disclosure: I have owned pedal and paddle kayaks in the last year. Currently I do not own any pedal kayaks. There are definitely days where one can be better than the other based on conditions but there is never room for hating on someone because they kayak in a different style. Share the water. Make new friends. Be kind.

Why Do I Blog?

At this weekend's Get Together of kayak anglers and hopefuls at Lake Grapevine I visited with lots of people about kayaking, kayak fishing and this blog. I heard lots of good things, some points for improvement and one other question that came out time and time again.

"Is your website your job?" or sometimes "Do you make money doing this?"

When I gave the answer, the followup question was usually, "Really? Why?"

It became apparent that while many of you know me through the blog, you didn't know the background of how it came to be and why I do it. I've done a poor job of communicating that and the answers are very important to the success of PPF.

For those who are curious, keep reading. For those who aren't, I'll be back with some regularly scheduled content at the end of the week.

The Beginning

I finished my grad degree in August of 2012 and had been on a blistering pace of writing to finish quickly. My wife was also in school and we had two kids under the age of 8. I needed to be done with school therefore, I finished as quickly as they would allow (16 months). What I discovered during that year was my love of writing. I didn't ever think of myself as a writer but my course loads demanded thousands of words a week. When August came and my classes were done, I missed the writing. I missed being able to convey information through my keyboard, I missed the sound of the letters being clicked out on the plastic keys and I missed the connection of brain to computer screen. I decided I would start a blog.

Blogs are great outlets for writers and desiring nothing but an outlet I started a free blog on Blogger. I wouldn't be out anything but time and I could do it late at night when the kids and wife were tucked away in Sleepy Town.  My first post just said a little bit about how I got into kayak fishing and I wanted to pass it along to my kids.  I love kayak fishing and this blog would allow me to be passionate about a subject and write as much as I wanted.

As the blog started to form I found myself doing reviews, talking safety and trying to tell people in the sport and interested in the sport about the mistakes I had made along the way. I tried to give good information and unbiased information. The blog readership was starting to grow and my kayak fishing had become a new focus in my life. I didn't know the direction I wanted to take the blog, my kayak fishing and whether I should join a manufacturer team if one offered or what. So much to think about for a hobby and a late night electronic legal pad.

So what do you do when you don't know? You call someone who does. The biggest name in the sport I could think of was Chad Hoover. Many of you know Chad through , HOOK1 or through one of his media outlets like his fishing shows on WFN and NBC Sports. Chad and I had visited through Facebook a few times but I needed to have some real guidance. I messaged him and he said "Call Me."

That conversation helped me to see what he and many others felt the real value of my site was to the kayak fishing community. Having a non-biased voice that can say what I want, respectfully of course, and be honest about equipment, gear and boats was something that didn't exist in many forms. To pay the bills, people need sponsors, endorsements etc. Being as this was not my job, I just needed a few partners to help me get going.It wasn't money I was in need of (since it's a hobby), but access to product.

I visited at length with other folks familiar with the kayak fishing scene in Texas (where I am at). Guys like Rob Milam, Alan Sladek and several others encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and helped me get in front of the people I needed to talk to. I continued to weigh options, talk with Chad and formulated a game plan. The thing that kept me going was something he said in the wee hours one morning.

He said, "Be patient. Know exactly what you want and pursue it. Don't settle."

That still rings in my ears. I was looking for a partnership that so many had told me was just not a deal that existed. I needed access to kayaks for long periods of time to do reviews. I needed access to gear to do reviews. I'm not wealthy. I have debts that could make you shiver. I needed help if the blog was going to succeed. I couldn't pay for any of it.

I'll spare the details, as this is getting long and robust, but I pursued the partner I wanted, turned down other offers that didn't meet up with my needs and began working with Mariner-Sails of Dallas. Aris agreed to let me pursue my dream. He knew what my goals were and allowed me to "do my thing". I am beyond glad to work with his team. Mike and Aris and the gang at Mariner have helped me achieve things I never thought possible and access to other companies and gear I couldn't have done without their help.

At this point, the snarky people in the room make lots of assumptions so let me answer a few questions for you.

Am I paid by Mariner? No.

Do I get kick backs or commission from Mariner for recommending them? No. I get to demo their boats but that doesn't pay the bills. I still work my 8-5 for that.

Do I get to keep the boats I demo? No. I just gave them back the Outback and took home a Slayer. I keep each kayak for 6-10 weeks to get ample time in to give valuable feedback on the boats.After that, they go back, rigging and all.

Do I ever say anything negative about the products I review? Yes. I try to always give points for improvement. (How many of you guys have heard me complain about the handle position on the back of the Hobie Outback or the toe box in the Astral Brewer?)

To be clear, I have never cashed a check written out to me for this blog or anything associated with it.

So why do I do it?

I love this sport. Kayak fishing is a beautiful symphony of man and nature that no other experience I have had can match. The community of kayakers is an amazing fellowship of brothers and sisters in water that will help each other at the first opportunity. Do we have our knuckleheads? Sure. Every group does. They're few and far between with us though.  My hope is that people looking into kayak fishing will come to my site to get information before they purchase. I hope they will make purchases that they still love after three months of on the water time. I hope vets in the sport can pick up some info here and there about new products or kayaks. I hope that my safety posts will some day save a life. I hope that every person who comes to my blog knows why I do this and can tell how much I love kayak fishing.

It's a lot of work to design, write, update, review, shoot pictures, video, interview, travel to and from events all out of love for the sport but I would do it all again with no regrets if you hit the reset button. I'll wake up tomorrow and think about kayak fishing. I'll try to think of new ways to share the passion we all share with those that don't know and I'll go to sleep late late at night knowing if one person learned about kayaks and safety today it was a growth in the sport.

Will I always do this? I don't know. Things change. New opportunities arise. But I will always be an ambassador for the sport of kayak fishing, no matter that hat I wear or the kayak I paddle.

If you have any thoughts for improvement, have ideas for gear or kayak reviews or other comments feel free to leave them here or even better yet, click on one of the sharing icons below and let me know that way. Please tell your friends!

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