By Tim Huffman
On January 31, 2017 the fishing industry lost a friend. If you are a fisherman, whether you met him or not, TJ Stallings was your friend and influenced your fishing in some way. It may have been a special color he helped design or his input to an article you’ve read that helped you catch more fish.
TJ was introduced to the tackle business at an early age in Florida working in his dad’s tackle retail store. He was always sharing tips from his experience spooling line, cleaning reels, tying jigs, selling tackle or something else he learned from hands-on experience; and from experience on the water. Whether a business associate, fisherman or stranger in need of help, he was quick to lend a helping hand just because that’s who he was. He had a big heart.
He will always be remembered as the Road Runner guy because of his presence at tournaments, professional events, writer camps, the ICAST show, and more. And unlike many others, TJ preferred to work behind the scenes. He enjoyed helping others catch more fish or assist them in their fishing career. He was comfortable in front of a group or camera but always wanted other people to get credit and exposure.
TJ was best known for his ideas and uniqueness. His business card proudly read, “Marketing and Crazy Ideas.” He was a genius at marketing. Products, product tweaks and awesome names often came from him. He was a great fit for his job as Director of Marketing for TTI-Blakemore Fishing Group, where primary crappie products include Road Runner Baits, Daiichi Bleeding Bait Hooks, and Tru-Turn Hooks. He loved both his job and the Campbell family at TTI-Blakemore.
For me personally, TJ and I shared rooms, had many great meals together (a few not so great) and spent time at writer events. He made sure expert fishermen, outdoor media and marketing people were properly matched for fishing, interviews and do photo shoots. He taught me a lot about the business and introduced me to people who I needed to know to help my writing career. He and Dan Dannenmueller were instrumental in starting CrappieNow Magazine. TJ pushed Dan and me, knowing five years ago was the right time to jump in and be the first online crappie magazine. We shared things both personal and business, laughed a lot, knocking around many ideas and problems usually ending with a better plan or maybe just encouraging words.
His brother and co-worker, Ron Stallings, wrote this: “His life was full of conservation efforts, articles about fishing and being with his friends and family. He would like all of us to praise God more, listen to His words and get out there and enjoy what God gave us to enjoy…make a cast, draw back the arrow and put the cross hairs on a big buck while thinking of him.”
TJ Stallings, 59 years old, Wetumpka, Alabama. You are missed by wife Kathy, brother Ron, family and many, many friends.