It comes as no surprise that Patrick Sébile's very first memory involves fishing. He'd hooked a six-pound carp on a cane pole and the fish pulled so hard, his uncle had to take the pole and help him land the fish.Today, at age 40, Sébile's memory is also filled with fishing, which again, comes as no surprise. In the 37 years since hooking that carp, this French-born entrepreneur has not only fished around the world in freshwater and salt (61 countries), he's made an indelible mark on the sport.Sébile holds more than 300 IGFA world, European and French fishing records, and his company, Sébile Innovative Fishing, has gained worldwide attention because his lures have proven so successful. Not only do most of these hard baits look different, they act different, too. A swimbait that darts like a jerkbait? Got it. A lipless crankbait that truly wobbles, not just vibrates? It's in the lineup. A series of jerkbaits that cover the water from six inches to 58 feet, rattling and vibrating all the way? Got 'em all.Bassmaster Elite Series pro Todd Faircloth used a jointed swimbait, the Sébile Magic Swimmer, in his Elite win at Lake Amistad, and in an odd twist of fate, gave one to Kevin VanDam. Now the two are locked in a tight struggle for the 2008 Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year title. Two weeks later at Clarks Hill, the entire Elite field knew about the Magic Swimmer, and most had one in their tackleboxes.
"That was a surprise to me," laughs Sébile, who did not read about the tournament and his lure's role in it until days afterward. "I was thrilled, of course, with Todd Faircloth's victory at Lake Amistad, but even though we are enjoying success, you must remember the American bass market is still relatively new to my company."That newness dates back just two years, to the 2006 ICAST show when Sébile exhibited his lures in America for the first time. Included in the Las Vegas show was his Blood Red line of clear, hard baits that feature an internal reddish fluid to add color, motion, and balance. The concept was all but unheard-of in the industry and it stamped Sébile then and forevermore as one of fishing's purest innovators."Appearance and motion, or action, are critical in attracting a fish to strike," Sébile says, "so all my life I have worked to make my lures and presentations more appealing. It doesn't matter which species you're fishing for, making your lure appear as realistic as possible, and especially if it appears injured, will bring more strikes.That's why an angler can go down the same shoreline right behind another fisherman and catch bass when the first fisherman did not. If he can adjust his presentation, he will catch fish."Sébile designed his first lure when he was eight years old, modifying a Rapala because he couldn't catch fish with the store-bought model. Then he began modifying existing rods to make them more sensitive, which led to buying blanks and wrapping them himself. Next, he started changing hooks; Gamakatsu annually sells 20,000 to 30,000 of its model 5423F, which Sébile designed for them in 1989. Today his company produces dozens of different hard baits in a wide variety of sizes (www.sebileusa.com).
As a teenager, he spent months living practically as a vagabond, doing nothing but camping, fishing and perfecting tackle. He dug worms and sold them for income (along with some of the fish he caught), but mainly he was accumulating his knowledge and experiences of fish behavior. As his reputation as an angler grew, companies began to provide him with equipment to use, and magazines began to write about him. He's been on more than 130 magazine covers around the world."I made my first trip to the United States in 1993 and fished in Texas, Louisiana and Florida for bass, snook, and other species," Sébile remembers, "and it helped verify my beliefs once again that fishing, no matter where you are, is an international language."Even if two anglers cannot communicate in a spoken language like English or French, they have no trouble understanding each other as fishermen. That's what I love about it."Sébile's passion for the sport is instantly apparent to anyone who watches him show one of his lures in a tank or simply talks to him. Even today with his worldwide fame, he is just as happy to fish for a tiny farm pond bluegill as he is to chase a world record tarpon off the coast of Africa.And it all started with a carp he couldn't manage with his cane pole when he was three years old.