Danny Davis, of Ringgold, loves to grab an armful of his fishing rods, load them onto one of his boats and head for Dan River — or any other body of water, near or far — for a day of fishing.
But about 20 years ago, Davis decided that one of the annoying things about fishing was the inflexibility of the bases made for rod holders.
There were — and still are — a lot of different rod holders on the market, but the bases that held them attached to boats could only hold them horizontally, were permanently placed and had to be mounted to a flat surface.
So Davis started thinking about the perfect base — one that could be easily moved along the track system inside most boats, could hold rods at any angle and, at the end of the day, be folded out of the way.
“Boats come with a track system, but nobody built a base system would fit in the track,” Davis said. To top that off, Davis said, in those days he had a small boat and the tips of his rods were always be in the water with the bases that were available.
“I started working on this to stop that,” Davis said.
So Davis spend years “fooling” with different ideas and in 2012 got serious about it, getting friends and family to help him create the perfect base, one that would hold any rod holder and could easily be moved along the track to where he wanted it and would lock into position for fishing but be easy to fold out of the way.
Finally, he was happy with the design and outfitted his boats with his own fishing rod holder bases.
Friends noticed and wanted some; strangers out fishing would notice his rods were all well positioned and ask him how he did it. Soon, he was making more and more of them.
Laid Back Fishing Innovations LLC was born.
As it became apparent that his invention was gaining in popularity and stores ranging from Hughes Marine in Danville and several tackle shops in North Carolina to SeaArk Boats, which stocked them in its more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada, were selling them. They can also be ordered online, at eBay, Amazon and Davis’s website, laidbackfishing.com.
Davis said his daughter — Tina “Sissy” Dixon — “talked him into” finding out what it would take to patent the invention. That began an almost three-year process of finding a patent lawyer to walk him through the process.
“We found one in Charlotte, North Carolina; there wasn’t a patent lawyer near here,” Davis said.
Countless trips to Charlotte later — and repeated re-submittals of his application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to answer questions they had — Davis was awarded his patent on Dec. 29, 2015.
“We had to rewrite it so many times,” Davis said. “They’re so hard to get.”
His wife, Linda, laughed.
“Danny’s really worked hard on this — he didn’t think getting a patent would be a big deal,” Linda said. Her job with the young company is bookkeeping.
Other family and friends have helped along the way. Linda’s son, Hunter Thompson, handles merchandising, advertising and deals with the website, while Davis’s daughter, Amanda Harris is always willing to run errands and his son, Danny Jr., helped make the prototypes.
Davis’s best friend, Jerry Murray, goes to boat shows with him and helped make the bases, which are now manufactured at Speedwell Machine Works in Gastonia, North Carolina.
So far, Davis said, there has been no negative feedback from anyone who has tried them — they’ll stand up to the biggest catfish without failing and a friend recently won first and third place in a fishing tournament with Laid Back Fishing Innovation fishing rod holder bases on board.
The lightweight, aluminum fishing rod holder bases that are simple to adjust are selling well, Davis said.
“It’s done better than I thought it would do,” Davis said, with a smile and shrug. “But it’s not going to make me a millionaire.”
Linda laughed and added, “But it might pay the light bill some day.”
Denice Thibodeau is a reporter for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 791-7985.