Legendary angling innovator and educator Ron Lindner dies at 86

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In-Fisherman

Ron Lindner, one of the world’s greatest fishing educators and freshwater multi-species anglers, who with his brother Al was a founder of the In-Fisherman media network, died this week at the age of 86 from cancer. He spent over six decades at the forefront of the fishing industry, and countless avid anglers and industry insiders owe their passion, their on-the-water successes and their careers to his efforts, which took the form of articles, books, television programs and in-person seminars.

The Lindner brothers were born in Chicago and after serving separately in the military they moved to Minnesota in the late 1960s, vowing to stay until the fish stopped biting. They never went “home.”

Early on, they formed the Nisswa Guides League to guide anglers on the lakes near Brainerd. "We thought why not call it something classy to identify us from the run of the mill," he told the Pine and Lakes Echo Journal. "We tacked 'League' on and it stuck.” Not only did the name stick, but so did the organization, which remains in operation today with a staff of 10 guides, including Marv Koep, whose bait shop served as the operation’s headquarters in those earliest days. Their time on the water led them to innovate techniques and tackle, which led to the invention of the Lindy Rig and the creation of Lindy Tackle Company. In 2008, the Lindy rig was included in the Minnesota State Historical Society’s “Minnesota 150 – The people, places and things that shape our state.” Lindner holds multiple patents for other innovative tackle items.

Their location among Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes gave Lindner access to some of the best multi-species angling in the world. While some guides and experts might be content to focus on muskies or panfish or walleyes or bass, the brothers were able to test their skills and their theories against all of the above, plus many more.

In the early 1970s Ron and Al sold the Lindy Tackle Company and expanded their outreach efforts by launching the multimedia “In-Fisherman Communications Network.” The first issue of the organization’s namesake magazine introduced the so-called “Algebra of Angling”: F+L+P=S. In other words, “Fish plus location plus presentation equals success.” That’s a formula that applies regardless of species and served as the cornerstone for their teaching philosophy. In addition to the magazine, In-Fisherman encompassed numerous other efforts, including a long-running television program and numerous books and DVDs. Their motto was: “Teaching North America to Fish is our Business.”

They also created the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail.

After selling In-Fisherman to Primedia in 1998, the extended Lindner family formed and operated Lindner Media Productions, a company that produced television programs, DVDs, commercials and other informative materials. They thereby continued their goal of “teaching folks how to catch more and bigger fish” through their “Angling Edge” program, which combined fishing education and entertainment with clear professions of their Christian faith.

Ron Lindner had come to religion as an adult, and in the brothers’ book “First Light on the Water,” they documented the hard-living ways that preceded being born again. He and his family suffered mightily from his alcoholism and the resulting depression, and after a particularly chilling experience in 1978 he confessed his sins and asked to be saved. Al became a born-again Christian several years later, and in their subsequent efforts they worked to promote both their religion and their passion for angling concurrently. 

“His whole life, nothing else interested him, nothing else was important to him. It was his faith, his family and the fishing industry, 24/7,” Al told the Brainerd Dispatch this week.

Lindner was a member of the inaugural class of inductees into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame, and was also enshrined in the Normark Hall of Fame and the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. He was elected to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2020, and was due to be celebrate that honor in September, but that ceremony was delayed by COVID-19 and he will be formally inducted posthumously in 2021.

Even in “retirement” he continued to fish over 200 days a year and stayed directly involved in many aspects of the fishing industry. Several of his sons and nephews followed his footsteps into the fishing industry, including his son James, who is also an inductee into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.

Ron Lindner is survived by his wife Delores, along with seven children and many grandchildren.

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