Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Voices from the Past: Ed Holder (1965)

The following article, written by the excellent outdoor writer Ed Holder of The Port Arthur News on March 1st, 1965, details as well as I’ve ever seen the perils of fishing tackle manufacturing. As Ed says, it’s a crazy business—and we’ve got to acknowledge all the crazy people who past and present have attempted to create the perfect fishing lure.

A Crazy Business
By Ed Holder

OF ALL THE CRAZY BUSINESSES on this earth, the business of fishing lures surely must rate among the zaniest—especially the bass fishing lure business.

It's a crazy, mixed-up thing from start to finish—from the manufacturer to the fisherman.

Take that poor manufacturer, for example. He finds a new type of lure. He makes a few trial lures. They're fished and tested at several places, and they catch fish.

Fine. He has a product the fisherman wants. So he puts it on the market. It "catches" as many fishermen as it does fish, and sales are "hot."

Then along comes another lure manufacturer. He wants on the band wagon. And he gets there by making a close copy of the new lure—not so close that it fringes on any copyright features, but so close that it's the same lure, for all practical purposes.

And chances are he makes it cheaper than the first man. Alter all, he has a model to guide him—a proven model. So the creator of the new lure gets his ears pinned. Sales drop off. He's disgusted. It's a crazy business.

Orders Big Shipment

Now let's look at the "middle man." He's the jobber, or wholesaler, who buys lures in large quantities from the manufacturer and sells them to the sporting goods stores.

Lets say that a new lure gets “hot” and is selling so fast that he can't keep up with the demand.

He orders a big shipment. Two days after it arrives, some amateur lands a 7-pound bass at Podunk Lake on another new lure—one the jobber hasn’t even heard of.

Sales on the first lure drop to zero. The new lure is in demand.

So there’s the jobber, stuck with several thousand lures that he couldn’t sell for half the price he paid for them. It happens several times every year. It’s a crazy business.

But what about the fisherman—the guy at the end of the chain.

The answer to that one is easy. In fact, all you need to do to see the answer is open any bass fisherman’s tackle box.

In there, you will find a wide assortment of lures, some with paint faded, some with hooks rusted, some in nearly-new condition.

Buys Two Lures

Some of them will be found on the top trays of the box. They’re the ones which are used to catch bass. Down below, in the bottom of the box, in mildewed containers, will be dozens of other lures.

These are the lures that were “hot” for a few days—“hot” enough that the fisherman ran to the store and bought a couple “just in case.”

He bought two, you see, because buying just one lure of any kind is an easy way to get into trouble.

Because if he had only one lure, and it happened to produce a few bass on a trip, his partner in the other end of the boat had better have one too.

Otherwise, someone is going to be in serious trouble—paddle-breaking trouble.

But under normal conditions, after he buys two of the new lures, and tosses them a few times with the greatest of expectations, he usually tosses them into the bottom of the box, breaks out one of his old reliables, and that’s the end of the new lure.

It’s a crazy business.

Old Lure Gets ‘Hot’

Of course, there is an exception to this rule of the forgotten lure that sometimes occurs. And that’s even crazier.

Some lures get “hot” after they’ve been out of production for a long time.

Some wise guy picks up one from the bottom of his box on one of those days when nothing is hitting nothing, and WHAM! He catches a big bass.

He tells everyone which lure he used. And suddenly there’s a mad scramble as hundreds of fishermen search through their boxes, and junk closets, mumbling “I thought I had one of those lures somewhere!”

Sometimes he finds it. Sometimes he also finds that was the lure he gave junior to practice with last summer, and junior beat it to tiny pieces on the driveway.

So he runs back to a store, asks for the bait, and is told it is no longer made. The sporting goods dealer yells at the jobber. The jobber yells at the manufacturer. And the manufacturer goes crazy.

Yep. It’s a crazy business, any way you look at it.

-- Dr. Todd

No comments: