CTF name: Tackleman
Real name: Pat Renna
Age: 50
Current City: Suffield, CT
Hometown: Hazardville, CT
Family members: Wife: Nancy; Sons: Patrick & Daniel; Step Son: Justin; Step Daughter: Shana
Occupation: Tackle Manufacturer/Charter Captain

1. Before you became “Tackleman” what was your previous job?
I’ve done a lot of manufacturing jobs over the years, from operating metal cutting machines to General Foreman. For the 12 years prior to starting T-Man Custom Tackle I was a human resources manager.

2. What made you decide to enter into the tackle making business?
Well I’ve always wanted to try my hand at my own business and I wanted to start in a business I would enjoy. So, the recreational fishing industry was a natural.
I knew I had developed a good product and was confident I could market it with some success because it worked so well. In 2004 I reached a point in my life where I thought I could financially make a go of it and with a lot of encouragement from my wife Nancy I started T-Man Custom Tackle, LLC. Honestly, if it were not for all of my wife’s involvement I probably would still be behind a desk 9 hours a day.

3. What has been the best thing about running your own business? The toughest thing?
Without a doubt the best thing about having my own business is the flexibility in work hours. I always hated being a weekend warrior on the water. Now I can bust it all weekend or pull a couple of really long days knowing that at the end of the job I’ll be able to fish anytime I want for the next 2 days….

The toughest… oh man, there are so many things that make this tough. Having to be self-insured, trying to compete with so many established tackle companies, trying to advertise and market on such a small budget….. Most of all I think the hardest thing is trying to do so many different types of work well on your own. Manufacturing, purchasing, graphic art, website upkeep, product development, SALES, SALES, SALES….

Again, thank god for my wife Nancy. She handles a lot of the financial end of the business and keeps everything straight on paper. Someday I hope to be able to hire some help or partner with someone to continue growing the company.

A happy charter customer.

4. You have a full music recording studio in your house. Tell us about your musical background and activities.
Ahhhh….the music thing, very near and dear to me. I went to Berklee College of Music right out of High School and have a degree in Arranging & Composition. That and a $1 will get you a cup of coffee. LOL….

Anyway after college I was lucky enough to play with some decent funk/soul bands and made a pretty good living in southern New England playing at clubs and colleges. At least until the disco craze hit and a lot of those venues started having DJ’s spin records instead of live music.

Nowadays, I have my own 24-track digital recording studio in my home. Nancy and I compose a lot of original music and record as much as we can on our own. Then we bring in musician friends to play instruments we don’t play. It’s a lot of fun and we actually produce some very well recorded songs of fairly high quality. Our original music would be classified as pop/soul/blues I guess. We also use the studio to record some commercial stuff and the occasional small band or acoustic group.

Sample Songs

All songs written and recorded by Pat & Nancy Renna. PNC Studio's, Suffield, CT.

5. What are your top five favorite bands?
Well my favorite artists seem to change monthly depending on who I’m into at the time. Lately it’s been “Keb Mo” & “Corrine Bailey Rae” But, I’ll take a shot at a favorite 5…

Stevie Wonder – Most inspirational
Tower of Power – Most admired horn section arrangements
Chick Corea – Best keyboard player and arranger of jazz…
Earth Wind & Fire – Best Soul/Gospel/Blues Band, there will never be another like them.
Delbert McClinton – Blues genius, lyrical giant, never made a bad piece of music

6. Besides Tman Custom Tackle, you also run a fishing charter business. What are some of the things about running a charter business that might surprise some people?
How stressful it can be….. a lot of folks think it must be easy to go to work on the water fishing everyday. Well it’s not, at least not for me. I try very hard to get a good blend of instructional tutoring and catching on every trip. I love teaching people how to troll for stripers and that part of my charters is always successful. But putting big fish in the boat on every trip can be difficult and there is a lot of anxiety when I’m fighting tough conditions and the bite is off. There is also the stress of keeping everyone safe on each trip. I do a lot of family and elderly charters so I sometimes have to sacrifice getting to the bite for being safe and not getting patrons nervous or ill.

7. You’ve posted some gardening photos, recipes and delicious looking food photos on the site. How did you get into cooking??
How did I get into cooking???? I’m Italian!!!! Some people eat to live… I live to EAT!!! To be honest I learned a lot about cooking from Julia Child and Justin Wilson on TV. Mostly I just taught myself and got tips from my Mom.

What is your down and dirty method for smoking fish?
Smoking fish is dead easy. Sea Salt/Brown Sugar Brine for 12-24 hours. Rack fillets till they dry a bit and hickory smoke in a smoker or on your grill till golden brown. My claim to smoking fame is the glaze I came up with. Mix Honey &lots of fresh ground black pepper together thinning it just a bit with some Jack Daniels and brushing it on the fillets while their still warm. If anyone wants more details they can PM me or look up some of the recipes on the site.

8. Although most CTF members look to you as a lure maker and saltwater charter captain, you post some trout and Quabbin reports every year. Describe some of your freshwater fishing background.
Like many, I started my fishing as a youth in a swap pond deep in the woods near my home. We caught panfish, bullhead, carp and some pretty nice bass back then. I would be on that pond EVERY day during the summer when I was a kid. Later my Dad got me into trout fishing the Scantic river which I still enjoy doing today. I love trout fishing as much as any other fishing I do and try my best to get out often in the springtime. In 1978 I discovered Quabbin Res. It is without a doubt one of the true gems of southern New England. I make a yearly springtime pilgrimage there for crappie and smallmouth bass. Sadly I don’t fish it as much as I used to but I couldn’t go a year in my life without a couple visits.

Tackleman, Mitch P. and Kapt. after a spring Quabbin trip.

9. Besides the customers, charter clients and people you’ve met at shows & seminars, you’ve made some real life friends as a result of fishing Do you have a funny or good story about a friendship you’ve made with someone from
“A” funny story??? How about countless funny stories!!!! One of my favorites is simple and short.

I was trolling one day with Bennett Fuller round the Brothers in Old Lyme. Bennett says to me, “hey there’s that boat again, I think that guy is following us”. Sure enough here comes this boat straight at me with some guy waving his arms in the air. I stopped trolling and pulled in my lines as this boat got close. All of a sudden the driver stands up… all 6 foot 11 inches of him stands up and yells “Hey T-Man it’s me Tall 1”…. I looked right at him said “no sh*t”…….LOL…..

It was Jon Nichols or “Tall 1” from the site stopping by to introduce himself.

I’m amazed at how many truly close friends I have made here on CTF, what a wonderful group of sportsmen.

10. Because of your tube technique success, a lot of people want to fish with you. Who from the site do you most want to fish with who you’ve never fished with?
There are a lot of people I admire and would love to fish with.
Paul D
P Dona
Andrew from FF111
Striper Sniper
Crazy Ivan

Just to name a few…..

11. What fishing technique would you like to improve on?
Trolling deeper moving waters at places like the Sluiceway.

12. What is the biggest mistake people new to tube & worming make?
Well besides going too fast, it’s not giving it enough of a chance. Many newbies lack confidence in the method and give up quickly when they don’t catch. There is a learning curve especially for those who haven’t “trolled” in the past. Understanding what you lures are doing 100ft behind the boat takes a little thought and experience so you have to give yourself some time before you can expect to bang’me on every trip.

A happy charter customer.

13. Do you have a dream fishing trip or destination?
Alaska for giant Halibut. The Keys for huge Tarpon.

Patrick and grandfather.

14. Your late father passed the fishing/outdoors tradition on to you, and you’ve passed it onto your sons. Describe what fishing means to you.
It’s part of the rhythm of life to me. Not only has it been my hobby and passion for over 35 years, it is also now how I make a living. Many of my best memories of my Dad involved fishing. Today I get to fish with my son’s often and our time on the water together is always special. I take a lot of pride in being a decent fisherman and I’m very thankful that I’m able to spend so much time sharing my passion with friends and family. I hope I get to fish till the very end of my life. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. Bring on the grandkids!!!!!!!!!

Patrick & Daniel

15. What kind of fishing trip in CT excites you the most?
Fall fishing on LIS. Late September into October is the most exciting for me. Being able to do combo trips for Big Bass, Hammer Blues, Albies, Togs and large scup mean tons of action and plenty of great fillets!!

16. What role does your wife play in your fishing related businesses and pursuits?
As I stated earlier my wife Nancy is a big part of the business and if not for her there would be no T-Man Custom Tackle. I gotta be the luckiest guy in the world to have her for a partner. Nancy also plays piano, sings very well and writes a lot of the lyrics for our original music. She’s a blast to hang with and there’s not too many personal or business decisions I make without asking her opinion first.

17. Who were you heroes when growing up?
Wow…. I’m not sure if I had any “heroes”. Maybe that sounds weird but I always sort of went my own way and never felt like I wanted to be like anyone else. I did have favorite sports personalities and musicians but they weren’t heroes. I guess I always admired people who seemed to have their act together and knew how to enjoy life everyday no matter what they did or how rich/poor they were. Ha!! So there you are… my heroes were family, friends and neighbors who loved life, enjoyed being alive and knew how to have a good time.

18. If you were to travel somewhere for vacation specifically not to do any fishing, where would you like to go?
Italy, and I’m gonna go pretty soon. I’ve heard so much about it from my family over the years that I feel I MUST go to see where my parents were born. After that, I would love to someday visit a tropical rain forest and the great barrier reef.

19. What do you think about Cabela’s coming to CT?
Whatever...I hope it doesn’t hurt some of the local shops too much. But change is change and it just doesn’t pay to worry too much about things that are out of your control. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy having them here and I bet the store will be awesome. They are a great company and I’ve always been satisfied doing business with them through the mail.

20. When you look back at all of your fishing experiences, is there any one that stands out most to you?
The first time I went tube & worm fishing has to be the one that stands out the most. It not only changed the way I fish, it started me down the path to my own fishing related business.