From time to time (as I look at my garage full of lures and
baits), the realization hits me that tackle companies keep themselves relevant
by designing, manufacturing, and marketing hundreds of new lures, baits, and
ancillary products each and every year.
Are new lures necessary? And, even more to the point, will they really
help us catch more fish?
The short answer is … YES, to both questions. The longer answer is the topic of this
Match the Hatch
The key to catching fish is to “match the hatch” which means
to imitate what fish eat. In the case of
flies, there might be 20 ways to tie a wooly bugger, including materials used, color,
size, weight, etc. If you were to
consider all the flies in a tackle shop, you could easily understand how just a
little tweak (a different hackle, a smaller tail, a brighter color or something
even more subtle) might make the fish go crazy in certain conditions, while
letting the fly pass by on other days.
The same is true for tackle companies, and most lures and baits.
In the race for market share, tackle companies build on past
successes to create new and exciting products.
Yes, some of the products look as if they were created to appeal more to
anglers than fish, but for the most part, every new product is an attempt to
either imitate exactly what fish eat or in some circumstances, imitate a lure
or bait already proven successful by competing companies. It’s like “generic” products sold by discount
retailers. At times, the generic product
works just like the originals, but then again, sometimes the generic forms just
aren’t the same.
For this discussion, allow me to take a new product
(mentioned a few times in the last year or two) and see how game-changing lures
Meet the Ned Rig
The “Ned Rig” is perhaps the most exciting new product to hit
tackle store shelves in the past decade.
It is a small, soft plastic “stick bait” that threads on a “ShroomZ”
(mushroom-style) jig head. Originally
produced by Z-Man Fishing Products, it has taken over the market for grub-style,
finesse fishing due to two specific features: the size of the weighted hook,
and the buoyancy of the bait.
Z-Man uses a soft plastic called “ElaZtech” which is
unbelievably strong, elastic, durable, and buoyant. With the tiny mushroom head, the bait falls
slowly to the bottom and stands straight up (the head down and the bait up
towards the surface). Then, literally
without doing a single thing (by the angler) the lure is located and eaten by whatever
fish happen to be in the area, including trout, bass, blue gills, crappies,
walleyes, you name it. And, anglers have
reported catching 100s of fish on the same lure.
BUT, as in most popular lures, supply became a problem. There were few if any of the original “Ned
Rigs” on store shelves. That shortage
led to “competition.”
Pretty soon, other companies that produce similar “worm” or
“stick” baits such as Senkos (made by Yamamoto Baits) began suggesting anglers
cut Senkos in half, thus imitating the shorter “look” of the bait even though
they may not have been able to make them float up from the bottom. These companies began eating into the market controlled
by Z-Man because with the “generic” version came more inventory and many times
more color choices.
Now, just a couple of years later, a handful of great
companies have created their own versions (including buoyant plastic) of the
“Ned Rig” along with innovative variations on the “ShroomZ” head.
This is how markets work.
New products come along and eat into the market once dominated by just
one manufacturer. And, the real winners
are you and I. We get to choose between
the original and the generic, and in the process, prices generally drop as
competition increases and we spend less … for more.
So, don’t be afraid to try a new lure, color, or size,
because at the end of the day the fish will let you know what THEY want to eat
… as they should.