1984 Diawa ad featuring....not one professional angler.

In 1984, Daiwa introduced what they deemed an “All Star Lineup” of Regal Strike graphite rods. Rather than look to their fishing pro-staff for endorsements, though, they turned elsewhere, in this case to the world of more mainstream sports.

Who knew that Larry Bird was a walleye fiend? Or that Willie Stargell preferred spincast tackle?

It was a solid crew, to say the least. Larry Legend and Joe Montana need no introductions. Stargell was inducted into Cooperstown four years later. Bobby Allison has been deemed one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. Even Cromwell was a four-time Pro-Bowler and a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. However, the question begs to be asked: What the heck did they know about fishing?

As part of the promotion, not only was there a $3 rebate on rods, but you could get a Strike Force hat for $4.95 and be entered in a sweepstakes to go fishing with the (non-fishing) pro of your choice.

We haven’t checked competing magazines, but it seems pretty likely that no other periodicals featured Bo Dowden advertising jogging shoes or Jack Chancellor shilling for golf clubs. The whole concept seems a little silly, even if it may have been effective.

This also indicates that the sponsorship market for other sports hadn’t progressed much at that point and even superstars were grasping for straws. After all, Daiwa couldn’t have been paying Pepsi/Chevrolet/KFC money, could they? What would it cost today to get Peyton Manning, LeBron James or Dale Earnhardt Jr. to promote your crankbait or worm dunk? In all likelihood, unless they were true fish fanatics, it would be financially prohibitive.


Past Reader Comments:

Chad Keogh:  Personally, I stopped caring who Daiwa sponsors or what rods/reels they offer ever since they fired their senior pro-staff a few years back saying that they wanted to focus on younger pros. It was shortly after I had the privilege of meeting Denny Brauer at the last Bass University held by BASS in Toronto.

I was impressed with how down to earth Mr. Brauer was and how he showed everyone why he was impressed with his green Daiwa rods. And Daiwa gave him the boot… there is no Daiwa as far as I’m concerned.

Harold Sharp:  B.A.S.S. had many celebrity members in the early days, one of the first was Sam Sneed and Jack Nicklaus. We helped Sam Sneed get a deal on a Ranger Boat and he called me and said he kept breaking the rope when he winched it on, I told him to just drive it on the trailer and he said, I didn’t know you could do that. Jack Nicklaus had a story in an early BassMaster about his bass fishing. Wes Unsell once showed up at a Bass Seminar we had and President Jimmy Carter showed up in the front row at the 1986 BASS Classic in Chattanooga. We sold Andy Bean a Bass boat and he attended weigh-ins at a Florida tournament. Pete Fountain along with Doc and Festus from Gunsmoke were all members. We did not know these celebrities were members until they contacted us. Corey Wells with 3 Dog Night called me many times when he was doing concerts to see if someone would take him fishing when he arrived in town, we always had some of the local BASS Club members waiting to take him and his crew fishing. We had many members of Country music as guess at the Classic each year because they loved to Bass fish, Ray Price, Mel Tillis, Jerry Reed, Jerry Clower, Merle Haggard all were ready to go fishing. Junior Samples fished several tournaments as a contestant. Presidents George HW and George W. Bush are members of B.A.S.S. So we are not surprised that Diawa had some celebrities.

After leaving BASS in 1986 I worked for Orlando Wilson TV Productions, in September 1988 Kenny Roger along with ABC TV did a Classic Weekend at his Beaver Dam farm in Athens, GA. He invited 4 golfers, 4 tennis players, 4 basketball stars and 4 entertainers to attend. He also contacted us to see if we would help organize a Bass fishing tournament to go along with his Golf, Tennis and Basketball tournaments. We contacted Ranger Boats, who provided 8 Classic boats, we contacted companies in the industry and got rods, reels, tackle boxes and lures for each team. The celebrities were paired in 4 teams with a golfer, tennis, basketball player and celebrity on each team, they competed against each other in Golf, Tennis, Basketball and Bass fishing tournaments.

The Golfers were Hubert Green-Payne Stewart-Ray Floyd & Lanny Watkins.

The Tennis players were John McEnroe-Kevin Currin-Michael Pernfores & John Lloyd.

The basketball players were-Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkens, Isiah Thomas & Michael Jordan.

The entertainers were Kenny Rogers, James Caan, Lorenzo Lamas & Kris Kristofferson.

I had to pair up the anglers, so to be sure we had someone who could handle the boat and someone who could handle a rod and reel, ask each one what type rod and reel they needed. Michael Jordan said he had never had one in his hand, so I gave him a quick lesson on using a spinning reel, I said, it’s like shooting a basketball, just look at where you want it to go then shoot it like a basketball. He caught on quick and caught the largest Bass fishing with Ray Floyd. All the others knew how to fish and enjoyed every minute of it.

Terry to Harold Sharp:  That’s amazing Harold. Thanks for that response. It shows how wide the popularity of bass fishing really is. In the west, Merle actually had a big tourney every year on Lake Shasta. At times there were over 200 people who fished along with Merle himself. I have some old pics of Merle in his boat fishing I’m going to use in a piece soon.

Brian:  Another name that comes to mind is Dallas Cowboy’s hall of famer Randy White, who actually was a pretty serious bass fisherman from what I understand, but was on the Skeeter Boats Team way back in the early 80’s while still playing football, and was featured in many ads. I think at the time, nearly the entire Skeeter “Team” was comprised of Texas B.A.S.S. anglers, and had some legendary names associated with it.

RichZ to Brian:  Brian: Randy White (and a couple other Dallas Cowboys) endorsed Terry Boats “Longhorn Edition” in ’78.

Brian to RichZ:  Rich: Very cool piece of trivia, Rich. I’d have to look and try to find the dates on the Skeeter ads, but I’m guessing very early 80’s. I’d heard he’s also been in Ranger’s and Nitro’s more recently, but I can’t really confirm that. Is there any past relationship between Terry boats and Skeeter? Buyout? Both out of Texas?

RichZ:  The big endorsement money for sports stars really kicked in just after that. Marketing sports stars was small potatoes until Michael Jordan. This ad was in his rookie year. Two years later, the playing field had changed dramatically.