You could chew on the humidity. He was sweating. I was sweating. In Wetumpka, Alabama that afternoon, anyone not sitting atop a bag of ice or an air conditioner was sweating.
If ever there was a time to be grouchy and complain it was now. But he couldn’t complain.
"He" being the 29-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. Me being the PR dude for his sponsor of 25 years – Quantum rods and reels.
It was 4:00 in the afternoon. It was 97 degrees. And it was near the end of a very long grind better known as the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season.
This was one of those moments that takes place behind the scenes between two guys who have never known anything but the bass fishing biz as a source of income.
Two guys that work together. Two guys that trust and respect each other.
This wasn't for catalog copy, a print ad or a creative TV commercial.
This was that instant when the truth gets told.
Good or bad – all on the table.
A "when E.F Hutton talks" moment.
From beneath his sweaty hat, Gary Klein turned to me with a heightened expression of sincerity, not a smile, glanced at his rod locker, and said, "We (Quantum) have incredible product right now. There's not a reel in my rod locker that needs service. In fact, I've been fishing with several of the reels in that box since last year."
Consumers expect flawless performance from their reel for 12 – 18 months. Gary Klein expects it too. But for him, one year equals about 120,000 casts. He's done the math.
He told me he turns the reel handle an average of 67 times when casting a crankbait with a 6.3:1 Quantum TE100SPT. Yes, he counted – while fishing at Ft. Gibson reservoir in Oklahoma. Do you think the man knows his equipment?
For 25 years, every fish Gary Klein's weighed-in has been reeled in with a Quantum. Seven million turns of the reel handle each year. And he's never been more pleased. "I was raised in an era of bass fishing where reels didn't change much in the 60's and 70's. But Quantum wasn't born until the mid 1980's, and I've been there the whole time as we worked and changed to make our product better and better."
"I love what I have right now," he said. No complaints. Even at the end of a miserably sweaty day in southern Alabama – and his 31st long and grinding season as a pro.