The story of Ron Lindner’s life and career is a lesson in perpetual achievement. From his tackle designs to the multi-media In-Fisherman empire that Lindner and his brother, Al, built, the man wore many hats, and wore them well.
As an angler and communicator, Ron was an innovator, credited with developing some of freshwater fishing’s most successful techniques and then sharing them with the world. As a businessman, he was a generous leader who helped launch some of fishing’s most storied franchises. As a friend and father, he was a loving mentor who helped guide many of today’s most influential anglers. If you fish, you’ve felt his impact in some way, even if you didn’t realize it.
Ron Lindner, who passed away November 30 at age 86, was a fishing-industry pioneer whose influence might best be understood in the candid reflections of those who knew him well. Consider these unofficial, yet endearingly accurate titles, which they bestowed on him.
The Innovator and Educator
Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame member Gary “Mr. Walleye” Roach spent countless hours with Lindner, whether at trade shows and seminars or while guiding together in Minnesota. Most notable, he said, was his friend’s disdain for complacency.
“After some of the big shows, we’d go up to Canada and fish,” Roach said. “We’d have a few bucks on who was going to catch the most fish and the biggest one, and I’d say, ‘Ron, we’re catching all kinds of fish on jigs here. What are you doing?’
“He was always fiddling around with something, and he’d say, ‘What if we could catch more on what I’m doing here?’ There was always something better. That’s one thing that impressed me about Ron Lindner – he always tried to make something better, rather than just being satisfied with one thing.”
Not only did Lindner strive to improve his own performance, he also gifted the fishing industry with game-changing tools and tactics. Nodding to the problem-solving Lindy Walking Sinker, Scott Glorvigen, CEO at Wired2Fish.com, lauds Lindner’s knack for simplifying the subject.
“Ron had the ability to break things down into the simplest form,” Glorvigen said. “Then through communication – television, magazine, books, video, web – he could take the complicated and break it down so the average angler could understand and go be successful.”
More than anything, Glorvigen is grateful for all that he learned from his friend and mentor.
“As a kid growing up, somebody would ask you, ‘Who’s your favorite teacher?’” he said. “Sometimes, it was that teacher who explained things and helped you understand them better. For me, that was Ron.”
The Selfless Promotor
Confident in his own abilities and accomplishments, Lindner opened doors and fanned flames for many aspiring industry upstarts. Among the countless examples is Gary Parsons, executive producer and one of the hosts of “The Next Bite” TV series. Parsons readily trumpets Lindner’s impact on his career. From his walleye tournament years to his own media company, Parsons said generous doses of advice and encouragement from Lindner fueled his growth.
“I would not be in the position I am in within this industry if it weren’t for Ron and Al Lindner,” said Parsons, a Mercury Pro Team member. “Early on in my walleye tournament career, the Lindners literally took (my partner) Keith Kavajecz and me under their wings in a fashion that was extraordinary.”
One aspect of that relationship involved extensive exposure through “In-Fisherman” magazine articles, which detailed the anglers’ cutting-edge tournament tactics. Another was a surprisingly gracious nudge toward a professional course that would overlap Lindner’s own.
“Ron Lindner is the one who encouraged Keith and I to go into TV,” Parsons said. “I said, ‘Ron, we would be your competitors.’ He said, ‘No, you wouldn’t. There’s plenty of room for people to have more knowledge of this sport.’
“We probably wouldn’t have pushed as hard as we did to get into the television world if it hadn’t been for the influence of Ron Lindner. I visited with him every chance I could. He was just a fantastic person.”
Kavajecz, a fellow Mercury Pro Team angler, expounded on that thought.
“He was the point of a pyramid. He gave a lot of people a platform to teach other people how to fish,” Kavajecz said. “From the Pro Walleye Tour and ‘Walleye In-Sider’ magazine that he started, it really gave us all a platform to get out our information and teach more people.
“A lot of that wouldn’t have happened without Ron Lindner’s insight into how to disseminate information, how to market, how to teach people to fish.”
In 1986, when Glorvigen and his brother, Marty, invented a sports towel, they described the item in a letter to Lindner, who personally replied to say he would include it in an “In-Fisherman” gear guide. This invaluable shot of exposure helped the Glorvigen brothers launch Gemini Jerseys, “Pro’s Pointers Television” and, ultimately, Wired2Fish.
“That legacy wouldn’t be here, regardless of what we have as a company,” Scott said. “The people we employ and the millions of people that come to Wired2Fish are a direct result of Ron and Al Lindner taking the time to sit down with two kids from northern Minnesota and say, ‘We like what you’re doing, and we want to support you.’
“There are so many stories like that where (fishing industry) companies went on to be very successful. But Ron didn’t want credit for it. He just wanted to continue growing the sport of fishing.”
The Relentless Angler
Though many of his early accomplishments were linked to walleye-fishing tackle and tactics, Lindner spread equal fervor across a broad spectrum of fishing interests.
“You look at the In-Fisherman team, and it seemed that everyone had their specialty, but Ron did everything,” said Scott Glorvigen. “Ron chased salmon. Ron chased snook. He chased tarpon. He chased bluegill. He chased walleye.
“Regardless of where he was and what he was after, whether on lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, pits, he caught fish everywhere. That’s the dean. That’s the professor. That’s the guy who had the Ph.D. in fishing. Didn’t matter what it was, he could figure it out and catch it.”
Kavajecz believes much of that success came from Lindner’s sheer determination. Spring 2019 found him joining Lindner on a Florida tarpon trip that showcased his friend’s dogged determination.
“What was amazing to me was that, for a guy in his mid-80s, you couldn’t break his concentration on working the lure. He was on that rod the whole time,” Kavajecz recalled. “The other thing was that, even though it wasn’t his boat, he more or less just pushed us out of the way because he was going to run the boat.
“That was Ron. He was a take-charge kind of guy. He was more than willing to share information, but he sure had an idea of what he wanted to do and how he wanted to fish. We were just kind of along for the ride.”
The Fan of Fishing
Among Lindner’s endearing traits, his constant quest for knowledge stood out to Roach.
“Ron always had ideas,” Roach said of his longtime friend. “He was always into something. He was always reading.”
Lindner also delighted in vicariously learning through others. Case in point: when Glorvigen participated in a fishing industry careers “faces in the crowd” event in 2019.
“There were probably 150 people at the workshop, and in walks Ron Lindner,” Glorvigen recalled. “Here’s a guy that’s 85 years old, that’s lived and breathed fishing 24/7, 365 days a year, and he’s at a fishing careers workshop.
“I asked him, ‘What did you come for?’ And he said, ‘You can always learn something.’ Here’s the ‘Dean of Fishing,’ and he’s out trying to learn more. That’s just the passion that he had, not just for fishing, but for the people involved in fishing. That was pretty telling of who Ron was.”
That passion for the sport shined brightest in Lindner’s genuine appreciation for a good fishing chat.
“This guy is the absolute icon, a legend in the fishing industry, but he really cared about what was going on in your world; not pontificating about the virtues of In-Fisherman,” Glorvigen said. “He always wanted to know how you were catching them, regardless of the species.
“You’d think the guy would get tired of talking about fishing, but he really, truly cared about every angler out there and what they were doing.”
Parsons has a similar impression, and he’ll be forever grateful for his priceless talks with Lindner. They covered plenty of professional stuff, but it was those friendly conversations transcending business that meant the most.
“Every time we went through Brainerd, Minnesota, we stopped (at the In-Fisherman headquarters), and it almost always turned into a closed-door meeting with Ron and Al,” Parsons said. “Those two men were giants in the industry, and yet, they kicked back with what I considered to be just an average tournament fisherman and treated me just like I was part of their organization.
“I can’t tell you how much that meant, and Ron was a big part of that. I loved that relationship, and I loved that man. He’s a big part of what I have today.”