The host would give the lake location, time of year and species being caught. A specific technique was discussed and explained. Along the way, lure companies, boat and motor manufacturers and other products would sometimes get a plug.
Today, a majority of the outdoor TV programming is more of an infomercial than a fishing show. Granted, there are a few shows that still deliver some techniques. Bill Dance Outdoors, Hank Parker Magazine and the In-fisherman are a few that come to mind with some educational value.
We have to keep in mind the majority of the TV fishing shows attempt to entertain while promoting a product. Some viewers may fall victim to the marketing techniques. An angler catches several large bass in a 30-minute segment with a particular lure or bait. So the producers hope we will run to the nearest tackle store and shell out the bucks for that “special” lure.
With video and computer technology today, almost anyone can splice together enough pixels to make the lure believable. Show sponsorships, which are translated as money, are a driving force behind most of the outdoor TV programming today. Sure, there are fish caught and released. But was that particular lure actually used to catch the fish?
The old “bait and switch” tactic has been around for decades in the retail industry. It has trickled down into TV fishing shows and even tournament coverage. In some cases, careful observation may reveal a pro angler using a different lure than that of his sponsors.
When asked during or after the weigh-in what his lure of choice was, the angler rattles off a couple of his sponsor’s products. On today’s pro circuit, the competition is too tough not to use a lure to help garner a win. And in some cases, that lure may be made by another company, not on the pro’s sponsor list.
I was at a photo shoot with several bass pros from both circuits. One angler was casting a spinnerbait when he actually caught a fish to his and our surprise. I, along with a couple of other photographers, begin snapping photos. The pro asked us not to use any of the photos since the lure he was using was no longer one of his sponsors.
There have been reports where a pro angler may actually change out a lure after a fish is caught to show his sponsor’s lure on camera. Of course, many fishing lures look similar when casting and retrieving. Unless a close-up view of the lure and fish is shown, the average viewer may never realize any difference.
In my years of covering and photographing pro anglers, there have only been a few isolated incidents of bait switching — where an angler used one type of lure to catch the fish, but another lure brand was mentioned.
Lure manufacturers are in the business to sell lures. They sponsor TV shows and pro anglers to promote their product. While they might not outright lie, they could be reckless with the truth.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com