By Todd Ceisner
Jaws flex clamps. Telescopic poles. Suction cup mounts. 1440 HD.
Those are just some of the things that came up during a recent conversation with FLW Tour angler Brent Ehrler. Not one had to do with bass fishing, at least directly.
They do, however, have a lot to do with GoPro, the California company that has revolutionized the digital camera industry and given action sports enthusiasts, not to mention anglers and hunters, a way to capture their experiences to later share with others.
Ehrler's relationship with GoPro dates back to last season, but this year the camera company has stepped forward and will be his title sponsor, replacing Keystone Light. The 2006 Forrest Wood Cup winner also added online fishing retailer Tackle Warehouse to his sponsor lineup.
"The deal with GoPro is really cool," he said. "They're making a big push into the fishing world right now."
After 6 years of fishing under an FLW team deal (five with the National Guard, one with Keystone Light), Ehrler becomes the latest highly successful pro who's chosen to go the independent route.
"It came to a point for me where I feel like my opportunity is better on my own," he said. "I have to self-promote myself and my sponsors and the greater good for my sponsors is to do something different and be independent. Now, I have the opportunity to be rewarded for the media impressions that I get."
For Ehrler, declining a team deal opened up some key opportunities to serve his other sponsors in ways he hasn't been able to in the past.
"It was time for me to do something different," he said. "I'm really happy to be able to not only stand behind the people I've been with forever like Lucky Craft, Ranger and Mercury, but to be involved with some new companies, especially GoPro, and get them more exposure and raise the awareness level of the cameras, that's huge for me. It's cool for me to be part of a company that's revolutionized the camera industry for action sports and now for hunting and fishing."
Since he's no longer an FLW team angler, Ehrler won't be required to be at the Walmart Fun Zone at events where he misses the cut. Instead, he intends to remain at the venue, barring another commitment, through the duration of the tournament. During that time, he'll be back on the water, shooting videos and filming fishing tips for his sponsors. Ehrler said Lucky Craft president Minoru Segawa is planning to attend most of the FLW Tour events, so they'll be able to film together.
"I'll be doing product tips and videos for Tackle Warehouse," he said. "I'm going to generate a ton of content, stuff that I don't necessarily have time in practice to do. Since I'll already be there, I'll go and do it and get some cool shots and even some underwater stuff of what baits look like in the water."
His hope, obviously, is to not have filming become the highlight of his season Ė he covets the Angler of the Year title and badly wants to be the first two-time Cup winner Ė but he's looking forward to sharing some of the insight that's helped him climb into the Top 10 of the BassFan World Rankings.
"I think we take for granted what people don't know out there," he said. "It's stuff we think everybody knows and they really don't. For example, people are always asking me about dropshot fishing. I think I'll do something on that from line, weight, hook, rod, reel and how to fish it shallow or deep."
Adding Tackle Warehouse, another West Coast-based company, was a coup for Ehrler.
"It's such a good fit to work with not only a retailer but a place like Tackle Warehouse because it's something I can promote nationally and it's so easy for people to get online and buy the stuff," he said. "It's hard to promote an actual store, but an online specialty tackle store where someone can go in and buy something and have it the next day, it's pretty cool. Other than my boat and motor, every company I'm affiliated with, Tackle Warehouse sells their products."
Don't Be (Camera) Shy
Ehrler remembers his first GoPro unboxing. At first he was a little overwhelmed by the technology despite the camera's compact design and straightforward controls. It didn't take him long to realize he was overthinking it.
"I got one and opened up the box and looked at it and said, 'Oh man, I don't know where to start,'" he said. "I thought it was very confusing and knew there'd be a huge learning curve. Literally, though, you open the box and put in a SD card and turn it on and record if you want to film or put it on pictures if you want to snap pictures. It's so simple."
He's become quite skilled with the camera, as evidenced by some of the shots he's posted on his Instagram account. Now, he rarely leaves the house without it.
"The big thing about it is being able to document my life on the water," he said. "We fish so many days and catch so many fish and see so many cool things like a snake or a gator or a sunrise or sunset and you look at it and say, 'That's really cool,' but I have no way to capture or share it. Now, I can take a picture of it. It's so cool to be able to document your time on the water or doing anything."
> GoPro also sponsors Bassmaster Elite Series pros Brandon Palaniuk and Gerald Swindle.
> In addition to the FLW Tour, Erhler plans to fish the Bassmaster Northern Opens this season.