Editor: Commercials throughout the live streaming of the inaugural MLF Bass Pro Tour event featured Favorite USA as “the Future of Fishing”. iBass360’s Sean McKiernan recently sat down with Winston Tucker of Favorite Fishing USA to discuss his Company, products, an aspirations for growth of the business. Sean and Winston also discussed the Industry’s direction. Here are the highlights of their discussion:
iBass360: First, thanks Winston for sharing with the 360NATION. Tell us how you got started making and marketing your own fishing rods?
Tucker: As for the making, I have been involved in the fishing and hunting industry for 15 years. There was a core group of us that learned about the internal details of rod constructions- everything from guides to reel seats. When given the opportunity to develop new material that had not been introduced into the American market place, we decided to create our own designs and enter the business of rod building. We started off with a patented design incorporated into the Summit rod series. It has a tip to tip, one-piece design with the highest modules being used in the industry. This created one of the lightest, strongest, and most sensitive blanks in the industry. We then teamed with terminal businesses like Fuji on components that would help us create a product that we believe is truly revolutionary.
iBass360: Once you got started how did you establish a presence in the market place?
Tucker: Creating a presence in the market took a lot of hard work and dedication. I have three kids, and I knew that the family’s future and the future success of the business, would be through the use of social marketing. So from the beginning, we wanted to launch the brand using both traditional and non-traditional forms of marketing. We partnered with the five biggest social media influencers in the fishing industry and partnered with the Googan Squad. We also worked with traditional marketing outlets like B.A.S.S., FLW and various print media outlets.
iBass360: How have you succeeded in differentiating your products from the many other rod producers out there?
Tucker: I think our attention to detail- everything from design, to graphics, terminal components, balance, overall appearance and performance. Even our packaging, our product is packed in a clear square box, is untraditional. We wanted to make sure no one could damage the rod while it was on display in the retail store.
iBass360: Do you see your products as having an advantage in a particular application or type of fishing situation?
Tucker: Of course I am biased, but the high level of sensitivity of our blanks provides an advantage. You are able to feel light bites while still having the ability to handle the retrieve in heavy cover. We have also used design features such as untraditional handle lengths, reel seats and the circumference of the rod blank to give our customers a clear advantage in most fishing applications. A lot of time, detail and study goes into each blank.
iBass360: What inspires you when it comes to new products?
Tucker: Fishing, obviously. We are always trying to expand from the traditional ways of doing things, particularly southern fishing techniques, into new techniques from alternative demographics. One example of this is going taking our gear into the world of in-shore fishing. This actually takes me back to my Florida fishing roots. We travel the world on fishing trips to test our designs on different species. We are always trying to create rods that fill a hole in the market place, and we always search for the latest and greatest- from terminal components to
new carbon fiber materials to incorporate into our designs. I am also inspired by traveling to the world’s elite fishing venues, such as Japan. This allows us to see what the rest of the world is doing and collaborate with their ideas and technology.
iBass360: How have you leveraged social media and the use of pro staff?
Tucker: For social media, we mainly use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. We partnered with Robert Terkla (@LunkersTV); Jon Barzacchini (@JonB); Alex Peric (@apbassing); Andrew Flair (@FLAIR) and Justin Rackley (@LakeForkGuy) of the Googan Squad. Just as most businesses have seen the value of this marketing, we feel that we have developed one of the strongest social media presences in the industry. We believe this will catapult us to the top. We also have
signed some of the top pros in the industry- Roland Martin, Scott Martin, Mark Daniels, Andy Morgan, Zack Birge, Dustin Connell, Skylar Hamilton, Brian Latimer and Matt Becker and we are a sponsor for the new MLF Bass Pro Tour.
iBass360: If you could only use one of your Rods for 1 year, which would it be and why?
Tucker: That is a tough one. I’m pretty partial to them all but if had to pick one casting rod I would pick the Big Sexy 7’4” MH. It is a “do all” rod that I can use with many different techniques. I can throw a worm, spinnerbait or a jig on this rod. In terms of a spinning rod choice, I would pick the Jackhammer 7’ M. You can use it styles such as drop shot and shakey head, as well as for small topwater baits. This rod is a good one to use in a small creek. It’s one of the most sensitive fishing rods I have used.
iBass360: Are you still working with other companies to use their talents to advance your business?
Tucker: We are working with great partners worldwide in design for such items as custom guide development, reel seats and material construction. We take great pride in building our
product from the ground up. We also partner with companies that supply advanced material to NASA. We have partnered with industry leaders like Fuji to create new custom designs. We also partner with the makers the Japanese makers of our rod making machines, from our mandrels, to the equipment used for our final taping, to make sure we get advantage in our processing. Finally, every blank is hand tested for strength, quality and durability. The direct result of this is having a less than 1% return for breakage.
iBass360: We are on the verge of a whole new Era of professional fishing with the new MLF Bass Pro Tour being added to the BassMaster and FLW schedules. What is your take on all this?
Tucker: Our brand slogan is “The Future of Fishing”, and I feel that in order to have the best future, we must continue to change, not just in this generation but in generations to come. Without innovation, anglers will lose interest as it will create complacency. Favorite strives to be the “future of fishing” not only in innovation, design and product but also by supporting other innovations in the industry. An example of this is our support of young anglers learning fishing techniques from social media because they don’t have the opportunity to learn from someone in
their family. We want to promote youth angling in rural America as well as urban America. Providing our youth with more social media and professional fishing outlets- such as the new MLF tour- is good for the sport and not a dilution factor at all. We support this new tournament format because we think it will be exciting and innovative. We will build on this to continue our support all anglers, from high school and college, up to the professional ranks.
iBass360: Any last things we need to know about FAVORITE USA?
Tucker: We feel so blessed to have been welcomed into the industry the way we have. From the youngest anglers that follow us on social media to some of the legends such as Roland, who’s been in this game since the beginning. We are excited about our growth, our national retail partners, and the future of this industry. Favorite Fishing is here to stay, and we hope you get the chance to find your new Favorite.
Winston Tucker is CEO and Founder of Favorite Fishing USA, LLC. Before starting Favorite, he was head of Tucker Auction & Wholesale, Inc. and TAW Distribution, LLC, and before that he was President of Fin to Fur Sporting Goods Stores. As evidenced by his involvement with the new MLF Bass Pro Tour, Tucker has developed a 14-year relationship with Bass Pro Shops providing them with logistics support through the purchase of all returned and overstocked merchandise and re-selling it around the world- a service he also supplied to Walmart, Saks, and other national retailers. In 2016, Tucker worked out an arrangement to design and market Favorite rods, reels, line, and apparel in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. Favorite Europe is the largest distributor of sporting goods in Europe, and Russia. Although only in its third year Favorite has experienced dramatic sales growth. iBass360 ProStaff Sean Mckiernan, from Bensalem, PA, is the Founder of Fishing Fiends, an on-line fishing community with over 4,000 members. He is an active member of the Bucks County Anglers Club (PA) where he has won a number tournaments. Sean is also pro staff with Riot Baits, Favorite USA Fishing Rods and SeaKnight Fishing.