"White Cloud" Is a Wealth of Bass Boat Wisdom

If Gary “White Cloud” Howard had been born closer to Charlotte, there’s a good chance you’d see him sitting on the pit box at NASCAR races directing miniscule adjustments to make cars run faster, but his Arkansas roots lead him instead to becoming quite possibly the most wisdom-rich man in America when it comes to bass boat performance. 

Nicknamed “White Cloud” at age 13 in his hometown of Flippin, he began working the night shift soon after as a young high schooler, running a fiberglass chopper gun to build lids and storage boxes for bass boats, until 1987, when he was appointed the chief dog in charge of test-driving America’s finest made fishing vessels at the time.

With 52 years of boatbuilding wisdom in his wake, “White Cloud” has spent the past six years as a proud member of Vexus® Boats’ experience-rich leadership team, serving much the same role that made him a highly respected resource among top pro anglers like Denny Brauer, George Cochran, and the late great Guido Hibdon. 

Always armed with a clipboard for making detailed notes, and on cold days, a motorcycle helmet to shield him from the bitter winds on Bull Shoals, very few days have passed the last 36 years when White Cloud wasn’t taking a boat to the 45,500 acre reservoir in search of absolute performance perfection. 

From hole shot to top end speed, and a boat’s ability to hold a safe grip in the turn, “White Cloud” takes finding every hull’s strengths very personal. Every new prototype Vexus hull, as well as existing hulls, are constantly being scrutinized by “White Cloud” to assure perfection before treasured customers take ownership of them.

When asked what anglers can do to maximize their boat’s performance, he states that trusting each boat has already been tested and matched to the perfect prop, along with not over-trimming the engine height, and always making sure your heaviest gear is stowed nearest the rear of the boat, are three keys to complete satisfaction. 

And perhaps the core of his thirst for perfection is the fact fishing is his passion too. Just like you, he wants optimal performance from the hull beneath him when he gets a few treasured hours to find finicky largemouth on a Sunday afternoon with his trusty Carolina rig or spinnerbait. 

“I think what makes me most proud of this new boat brand is knowing our unique AirWave® pedestal seats in the cockpit, along with the shape of our hulls, make Vexus the smoothest ride in the industry. And as a fisherman, the improved fish care we’ve created with our unique Intensive Care™ Livewell System is a unique feature I’m pretty proud of too,” smiles Howard.

“White Cloud is a perfectionist. More so than anyone I know,” says veteran Vexus leader, Keith Daffron, who also grew up in the boat building business, as the grandson of Forrest L. Wood. 

“His attention to detail becomes really important when designing a great boat hull. It’s a critical trait to completing the product development cycle correctly. His 52 years of experience can’t be duplicated in this business, and I can’t imagine building boats without White Cloud’s wisdom being poured into them,” adds Daffron. 

Comical like your favorite uncle, “White Cloud” is actually known around Flippin as the Dean of Nicknames, tagging dozens of folks with a nickname that becomes more common than those on their birth certificates. Heck, in the days of printed phone books, Gary “White Cloud” Howard was even printed on the thin paper pages next to his home number. 

If you’ve got a strong-running boat built near Flippin between 1971 and now, there’s a great chance you have Gary “White Cloud” Howard to thank for it, and those who do are grateful his old phone book was from near Bull Shoals and Flippin, and not Charlotte.

Story by Alan McGuckin

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