Andrew Hill is a name not known to most outside of the fishing community in New Zealand. They also don’t know the impact Hill has had on the fishing & marine landscape globally. He has been instrumental in the research and development of Sea-Doo’s FishPro range as a lead collaborator with the Global Product Strategy team. Hill has revolutionised the sport and stirred a passion for ski fishing in many. As a Sea-Doo Global Brand Ambassador, he also features in the latest instalment of the ‘Inspired By’ short film series launching November 6, 2022. This episode captures how a grassroots concept turned into the global phenomenon that is the Sea-Doo FishPro.
The invention of the Ultimate Rod Holder and the FishPro revolutionised the PWC and fishing worlds. Hill’s longtime friend, Mark Greenfield, says that at the start, there were “probably about ten of us in the whole country fishing off skis. Now, there’d be thousands”. The ripple effect of ski fishing was felt across the pond in Australia too, where its popularity was only rising. Globally, the take-up was strong also. People all over were kitting out their PWCs to equip them for the sport.
With PWC fishing on the rise, Sea-Doo and Hill collaborated to make the first – and only – fishing PWC on the market. “That was where the whole chapter changed,” Hill says. Mark says that it’s a “pretty cool success story”, having a New Zealand local lead the way with Sea-Doo to build the first fishing platform, straight out of the box and ready for the consumer. “[Sea-Doo have] always been a leader, so what more can I ask for to be involved with them?” Hill says.
As an avid fisherman, Hill wanted to take the Personal WaterCraft and put his own spin on it by creating something more designed for fishermen like himself. Growing up amongst the water in Auckland, New Zealand, he has been fishing for as long as he can remember, and just as passionate about it. He wanted to design a fishing kit that could sit on the back of a PWC, and still be able to ride unhindered.
Hill doesn’t fish just on the mainland, often taking on big adventures in rugged, offshore conditions. The unpredictability of the elements is always a consideration for anyone with an interest in any watersport. “We go fast in hard seas,” Hill says, and he needed a PWC that could keep up. Through trial and error, rounds of development and a few occasions of losing his days’ catch, chilly bin and rods to the sea, the Ultimate Rod Holder was born.
From here, the PWC made for fishing took off. “Everywhere I went, people would see it and ask, ‘Where do I get this thing?’ Hill says. “This was the latest fad – people were wanting to kit out their PWC and go out and do what I was doing.”
Hill planned social trips and tours, and started his own PWC fishing tournament. In the tournament’s beginnings, 50-60 skis would come along, and it has only grown in the ten years since it has been running. The camaraderie of the trips and tournaments are priceless: fishing new territory with your mates, talking about the memories of the day back on land, and seeing what was caught is invaluable. Ticking off bucket list fishing spots and going out to untouched beaches is another drawcard for Hill, only made better by being able to do it with his mates and children.
Hill’s children, Cooper and Ava, often accompany him out on the skis. Passing down his fishing skills and sharing the experience and lifestyle with them is important to him. Living with hereditary heart disease, and undergoing multiple surgeries and a double by-pass surgery, Hill makes the most out of every day: “if I can be making the most out of life, never miss a day’s fishing, and getting as many people started with the sport enjoying what I love, that’d just be an awesome legacy to leave for my kids.”