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Talking tackle with Tom Ricks, Pure Fishing's Marketing Director of rods and reels

Date: 5/15/06
Manufacturer: Pure Fishing
Interview: Tom Ricks
Title: Marketing Director of
Rods, Reels & Combos
Reviewer: JIP

Introduction: When it comes to giants in the industry it just doesn't get much bigger than Pure Fishing. With operations in 19 countries Pure Fishing is truly a global tackle company, and boasts a remarkable brand portfolio which includes Berkley, Stren, Abu Garcia, Mitchell, Fenwick, and SevenStrand. There is no doubt that every single TackleTour reader has been exposed to at least one of these brands, and we decided it was high time to learn more about the company and what they plan to offer anglers this season. We had the opportunity to sit down with Tom Ricks Pure Fishing's own Marketing Director for Rod and reels.


Tom working with John Chapman, Director of Spinning Reel Development

JIP: Thank you for taking the time to talk directly to the TT readers. Please tell us about yourself, walk us through a day for you at work?


Ricks: Fishing for two and a half years as the Marketing Director of our Global rods and reels businesses.  Prior to Pure Fishing, I worked for a large consumer products company.  I grew up in Georgia, so my passions were the Georgia Bulldogs and bass fishing.  I cut my “angling teeth” on an Ambassadeur® 5000 and a Mitchell® 300®, so just imagine my excitement to come work for the company that marketed those brands. When the opportunity at Pure Fishing came along, the decision was easy.  I loaded up the wife, kids and dogs and moved to start a new career in the fishing business.


Like all of my colleagues at Pure Fishing, I’m an angler first.  So I’m fortunate to live my passion every day.  A typical work day for me is literally spent learning. Whether I’m testing new products with our engineers or in the field talking to anglers, the information they provide is extremely beneficial to me and critical to the success of this company.  But my favorite days are those out on the water with the guys on our pro staff, like Hank Parker or Kelly Jordan – those are the “hall of fame” days for me.  And that’s where true insight comes – gleaning years of invaluable fishing knowledge – and getting a chance to wet a few lines with hall-of-famers, to boot.


JIP: Tell us about Pure Fishing, and all the different brands that come under the Pure Fishing umbrella.


Ricks: Pure Fishing is, and always will be, a family company.  Fishing is our only business, and the desires of anglers – whether it’s a stronger fishing line or a healthy fish population – are our desires, too. We work hard to anticipate and understand anglers’ needs so we can provide them with a more enjoyable fishing experience.

Jim Martin, BCI Director, fishing the waters he works hard to protect


Our portfolio of fishing brands is made up of a host of brands that were founded by passionate anglers who invented much of the tackle that we use today.  Our brands include: The Berkley® brands of fishing lines, soft and hard baits and rods; Stren® and SpiderWire® fishing lines; Abu Garcia® and Mitchell® fishing reels; Fenwick® rods and SevenStrand® saltwater tackle.  These brands have each earned a distinct and unique reputation with anglers worldwide for quality and innovation, and each continues to build on that reputation.


But the Pure Fishing commitment to the sport fishing industry doesn’t end with products.  One of our most impassioned goals is to forge worldwide conservation and fishable waters – for anglers today and generations to come.  The Pure Fishing conservation director, Jim Martin, leads the Berkley Conservation Institute (BCI), which partners with national fisheries organizations, government fisheries and media partners around the country to ensure tomorrow’s anglers will be able to experience the passion of fishing as much as we do today.


JIP: What would you say makes Pure Fishing as a company different or unique from the competition? Do you feel having so many diverse brands is an advantage?


Ricks: What makes Pure Fishing unique in the industry is our commitment to research and development.  We continually invest a significant amount of time and resources into the development and testing of new products.  In fact, most people have no idea how demanding our process is to perfect new products.  Every year, anglers visit our research facilities and the reaction is always the same. They’re amazed at the efforts we put into understanding the science and technology of fishing – from the perspective of both the fish and the angler.  In fact, we are the only fishing tackle company in the world that maintains a staff of fish biologists that know and study fish behavior both in our labs and in the field. These guys live and breath fish every day – it’s actually a little scary.


We also feel we have a distinct advantage with our broad portfolio of brands.  Regardless of species, application, or skill level, we have a product that fits every angler’s needs. We have three of the world’s leading fishing line brands in Berkley, Stren and SpiderWire. And for each of these brands, we are continuously raising the bar with new products.  Consider Berkley Vanish® Transition®, a fluorocarbon line that is invisible to fish but easy to see above the water for anglers.  It’s a remarkable advantage and a great example of new technology based on angler insight.


Fish Behavior Pool, Pure Fishing Headquarters, Spirit Lake, Iowa

Our Berkley PowerBait® and Berkley Gulp!® soft bait brands were engineered using our technologically advanced fish research facilities. Thanks to its unique scent dispersal characteristics, Berkley Gulp! is taking the in-shore saltwater market by storm by continually outfishing live bait, and Berkley PowerBait has become a must have in any tackle box, regardless of species or application.


Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Mitchell and Berkley, our rod and reel brands, have a long and rich history with a strong market position and consumer following, and each continues to grow.  Products such as the Ambassadeur®, Techna AV®, Mitchell 300 and Berkley Lightning Rod® not only changed the sport of fishing, but continue to lead the industry.


Bring all of these pieces together and you have a company that is positioned to meet the needs of any angler around the world.


JIP: Lets focus in on Abu Garcia for a moment, how has the brand evolved over time? There is a lot of enthusiast interest in premium Abu Morrum offerings, many of which were only available overseas. Are there any plans to update and introduce premium and supertuned Morrums back stateside?


Ricks: The Abu Garcia brand is one of the most respected brands in the world.  The rich heritage of this Brand begins with the people who live the brand each day.  There are workers at the Abu factory in Svangsta, Sweden, who have devoted their entire lives to building reels.  Take Patrik Svensson, our Product Innovation Director in Sweden.  He’s been designing and building baitcast reels his entire career.  And he took the job from his father, who spent his career building fishing reels. These guys give Abu Garcia reels their true craftsmanship. Fishing plays such an important role in Swedish culture, and it shows in the engineering and craftsmanship of an Abu Garcia reel.


The Mörrum continues to have broad appeal both here in the States and overseas. Stay tuned for more on the Mörrum, as we’ve got plans to extend the Mörrum program in the future.


Our biggest plans for Abu Garcia will be the introduction of a new low-profile reel this year.  This reel will be unlike any Abu before.  The REVO STX will literally revolutionize low-profile baitcast reels.  The reel is packed with new technology, including an advanced gear system and an innovative drag system.

Tom with a nice musky during a field testing trip for the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Record reel


JIP: Abu Garcia reels have almost a cult following, with some of the most devoted tackle aficionados always looking for the next offering? Why do you think this is?


Ricks: I think it comes from the fact that Abu Garcia has always delivered reels that have stood the test of time.  Tackle aficionados know Abu Garcia reels are engineered to be more than a one-season reel.  Abu Garcia also is a brand that has been a part of anglers’ lives for more than half a century, and the reels continue to deliver a positive experience every time.  We constantly have people calling in with stories about losing their Abu Garcia reel at the bottom of a lake, only to retrieve it years later.  In most cases, all that is required is a good cleaning and some oil and the reel is ready to go. That’s a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of the reel.


If repairs are ever needed on an Abu Garcia reel, Pure Fishing has one of the most experienced reel service departments in the industry.  Not only will you have your reel back in less than 48 hours, but chances are your reel will perform even better than before.  One of the main reasons is Bob Hulme – “Supertuner Extraordinaire” – who leads the reel service program.  Bob is committed to making sure every returned reel that comes to us leaves perfectly tuned.  In fact, Bob is known among many Abu Garcia aficionados as the supertuner of Abu Garcia reels.


And Abu Garcia’s appeal extends beyond the borders of North America.  Our reels have a very strong following in nearly every country in the world, including Japan.  In fact, one of the country’s most influential fishing pros, Katsutaka Imae, is a member of the Abu Garcia pro staff.  Not only does he use Abu Garcia reels exclusively, he also provides valuable insight for product development.


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