BASS Times: Members in Business - Michael Kane

Team Skeeter Bass Club
Guilford, Conn.
Tournament Force Tackle Systems

The business began as a lure-making whim and has emerged as a major fishing tackle retailer in the New England area.

"I started by making a few spinnerbaits for myself and my buddies," said Michael Kane, the owner of Tournament Force Tackle Systems. "I decided to make a few more, and then we created a Web site."

An engineer by trade, Kane has been fishing his whole life and started competing in tournaments about 16 years ago. He joined the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation in 1991 and has made the Connecticut state team a couple times.

The Team Skeeter Bass Club member started making spinnerbaits in 2000 and began selling the lures at trade shows. The Tournament Force Tackle Systems Web site was created in 2004 and the company's catalog expanded when Kane began selling Lucky Craft Lures. "Basically, we went from a little one-page flyer that just included our spinnerbaits to this year's catalog, which has 72 pages," said Kane.

The business also swelled from a 10-foot by 10-foot corner in his basement to a 3,000-square-foot store that carries a large selection of today's hottest bass tackle and some saltwater fishing supplies. The store opened last year in Guilford and contains a test tank (24 feet long and 5 feet deep) filled with bass. Services available at the store include the installation of sonar and GPS units, battery chargers, trolling motors and other marine accessories.

Kane also takes steps to increase his business by holding monthly fishing seminars for his local customers and hosting a kids fishing day. "We are really dedicated to helping people, and that's how we grow our business to compete with the larger retailers," he said.

The Team Tournament Force Club is another instructional concept Kane offers to his customers. "It is one step short of a college course on bass fishing," he described. "It meets monthly for three hours, and we teach bass fishing from the very basics, such as selecting the right rod for different techniques, line and lure selection. We also teach them about bass and their seasonal patterns."

Kane's company also caters to the Federation Nation since it has close ties to the organization. All of his employees are Federation Nation members, and the pro staff is also filled with Federation Nation anglers, including 2005 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship winner Ed Cowan.

The tackle retailer sponsors several Federation Nation chapters throughout the country and purchases jackets every year for the Connecticut and Massachusetts state team members.

Sponsoring the Federation Nation is good for his business, Kane believes. "It is a qualified audience," he said. "The Federation Nation guys spend more money on fishing tackle than the guys at other levels. So by advertising with the Federation and helping them out, they may become loyal customers of your business."