On the cutting edge

This week we're going to talk about a dream I've had for a longtime — making new lures. I started messing with them when I was about 10 years old. I'd use a butane lighter to melt plastics together to make new shapes and designs. When I wasn't doing that, I was refinishing hardbaits with fingernail polish.

Last week I was privileged to take my dream to another level. I spent a few days — along with several other Elite Series pros — at Pure Fishing's headquarters in Spirit Lake, Ia.

We started out by reviewing my notes and drawings. I've got a lot of that stuff that I've collected over the years. The guys at Pure Fishing took that information and refined it into something more professional. It's kind of neat, really. They use a CAD (computer-aided design) program to create a 3D image of what I'm thinking about.

It's almost surreal. It looks like something from a spaceship. The lure actually takes shape on the monitor as they rotate it around to give us a 360-degree view of everything. When they get done, it looks like the real thing.

After they have a workable image and design, they make the lure. Now, it's not anything like what you'll finally see. All we want is something workable to throw in a tank. When we do that we also compare and contrast its properties with that of other products. Our goal is to start to weed out the bad and save the good.

That can be a complicated process. It's a lot of trial and error as we combine their scientific and engineering expertise with my real-world fishing experience. But that trial and error is what gives anglers good baits. You need both to make something that's first class. Believe me, that's what Pure Fishing does.

Anyway, at some point we have a workable model. That's when I head home and wait for the FedEx man to bring me the first-generation prototypes. Once I get my hands on them, I can go to work testing the lures under true fishing conditions.

I love that part of the process. It gives me a chance to catch fish in the real world with something I'm a part of — something that was my idea. There's no greater thrill than to catch a 5- or 6-pounder with your own bait.

Next week we'll talk about how I do that, and about the back-and-forth process we go through before a lure is ever offered for sale.

PS: I know I haven't described the lure or told you anything about it. I can't. These baits are a trade secret. The details can't be publicized until they're on the market. That's only fair. Pure Fishing has invested a lot of money in this process. They don't want their work copied before they have a chance to make their money back.

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