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Merwin: Thoughts from a Lure Buyer

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July 29, 2009

Merwin: Thoughts from a Lure Buyer

By John Merwin

So I’d like to introduce you guys to my pal Tony the Lure Man. That happy-looking young fellow in the photo is Tony Witte, whose job it is to buy fishing lures for Cabela’s. All those great-looking lures you see in the catalogs at one time or another first had to pass muster with Tony. We were bass fishing together down Florida way a while back, where I tried picking the padlock on all those wonderful trade secrets he most certainly knows.

Tony is a very nice guy and, when it comes to corporate operations, also extremely circumspect. I’d ask him some penetrating journalist-type question. He’d grin at me and shake his head, not saying a word. But he did finally tell me a couple of things that I thought were interesting ...

First, he said, fishermen are intensely brand-loyal when it comes to fishing lures. This makes sense. If you caught fish on a Rapala last year, for example, this year you are probably going to be buying more Rapalas. This is also probably why such well-known brands as Mepps, Rapala, Daredevle, and so on have enjoyed such longevity.

Another thing is that future trends in hardbait designs will tend to be more and more realistic. A shad-imitating crankbait, for example, will evolve over the next few years to look more and more like a shad. Fishermen love realistic-looking lures since, by simple logic, the more a lure looks like a baitfish the better it should work. That is how fishermen think. It is not necessarily how fish think, however. 

Funny how that works....

Comments (15)

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from Sick STi wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Thats totally true. I really only buy Rapala and Dardevle lures.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ggmack wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

i got to say i am brand loyal too. Shimano, Tica, berkley, and Sufix.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I wonder in the bad economy if guys are switching from hard crankbaits to plastics to save money?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Perhaps I am an anomaly but when it comes to lures I like to mix it up. But when it comes to equipment I do tend to stick with the proven brands.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steelers8623 wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I wonder if he had to pay for that hat? :-)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

The more realistic-looking lures also causes me to de-part with more realistic 10 & 20-dollar bills.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwaynez wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I am loyal to specific brands, if they have produced over the years I will continue to buy them and expand the line of lures under that brand name.

But like all anglers I will experiment with new lures, the more realistic the more it catches my eye and that is why I purchase. That impulse buy is what a lot of lure companies are banking on, just like a car, a ipod, or whatever it is, if it catches your eye you will most likely buy it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Word of mouth (from a friend) and solid evidence of success is the only thing that will get me to buy something new.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Theedge_45 wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Yeah good point. Quantum reels, Falcon Rods, Booyah, p-line, ect are the things I rely on first and foremost.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

That is one hell of a job... I wonder what he did in order to get where he is today. Either way, doing something you love, like fishing sounds amazing. It is true however that the more realistic bait looks, the more willing we are to buy it, but I wonder if it intrigues fish as much as it does us. Better to say that in the future, hardbait will be made to catch more fishermen to buy than it will fish. haha

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kim wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Face it, most lures are made to catch fishermen instead of fish. Don't believe it? Why do you think that lures look lifelike down to every detail and come in so many colors. Tackle boxes everywhere are chock full of expensive lures that never caught a fish only the fishermen. Meanwhile, lures that look and act nothing like anything in nature catch fish repeatedly such as a spinnerbait and I have heard many pros say that any color skirt will do as long as it is white. Every lure buyer for big and little stores knows this but they buy the ones that will hook the buyer not the fish.
Reels and line have enough subtle differences to be discussed. Still reels are priced way out of sight. Think I'll go in the ball bearing business, that's where the money is.
Rods, they all use the same blanks pretty much. As long as the action of the rod does what you want then what difference does it make what name is on it? Only makes a difference to the store and how much they can charge.The $30 rod will get the fish just as well as the $300 rod will. Expensive rods and lures are just fashion statements. Man has been catching all kinds of fish for centuries with line and cane poles and a few wigglers. Well, guess I'll go fishing!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I am loyal to live bait. However, going to the swamp and trapping my own is no longer an option due to restrictions requiring certified live bait.
So, any lure that looks, feels, and acts like a real bait fish will hook me!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

buckhunter:
A good question about the bad economy and lures. What I found in talking to buyers and retailers at a recent trade show is that lure sales overall have trended upward over the past 18 months as the economy has trended downward. Most seemed to think that's because a guy who is only working parttime now, for example, has more free time and goes fishing more--and can still find a few bucks to buy more lures and other terminal gear.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I'm as bad as anybody else when it comes to sticking with the old tried and true, and I also like some of the great looking new lures that have come out. However, I got a good lesson on lures from my dad over fifty years ago when he took a bet with another fisherman, rigged a couple of hooks on a corncob and caught a half a dozen nice bass in one morning. His comment was, "That dumb expression on a fish's face ain't there for nothing."
Of course, that works the other way, too, since sometimes the fish are too dumb to bite some of these excellent lures when they should.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

you had an article about this in one of the magazines I was reading over the weekend of a my collection from past magazines. It's funny that you right about it now again after just seeing it in a past magazine could you say again though about his feelings of does cabela's making there brand of lures that copy name brand one's and selling them for less?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

The more realistic-looking lures also causes me to de-part with more realistic 10 & 20-dollar bills.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kim wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Face it, most lures are made to catch fishermen instead of fish. Don't believe it? Why do you think that lures look lifelike down to every detail and come in so many colors. Tackle boxes everywhere are chock full of expensive lures that never caught a fish only the fishermen. Meanwhile, lures that look and act nothing like anything in nature catch fish repeatedly such as a spinnerbait and I have heard many pros say that any color skirt will do as long as it is white. Every lure buyer for big and little stores knows this but they buy the ones that will hook the buyer not the fish.
Reels and line have enough subtle differences to be discussed. Still reels are priced way out of sight. Think I'll go in the ball bearing business, that's where the money is.
Rods, they all use the same blanks pretty much. As long as the action of the rod does what you want then what difference does it make what name is on it? Only makes a difference to the store and how much they can charge.The $30 rod will get the fish just as well as the $300 rod will. Expensive rods and lures are just fashion statements. Man has been catching all kinds of fish for centuries with line and cane poles and a few wigglers. Well, guess I'll go fishing!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sick STi wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Thats totally true. I really only buy Rapala and Dardevle lures.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ggmack wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

i got to say i am brand loyal too. Shimano, Tica, berkley, and Sufix.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I wonder in the bad economy if guys are switching from hard crankbaits to plastics to save money?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Perhaps I am an anomaly but when it comes to lures I like to mix it up. But when it comes to equipment I do tend to stick with the proven brands.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steelers8623 wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I wonder if he had to pay for that hat? :-)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwaynez wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I am loyal to specific brands, if they have produced over the years I will continue to buy them and expand the line of lures under that brand name.

But like all anglers I will experiment with new lures, the more realistic the more it catches my eye and that is why I purchase. That impulse buy is what a lot of lure companies are banking on, just like a car, a ipod, or whatever it is, if it catches your eye you will most likely buy it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Word of mouth (from a friend) and solid evidence of success is the only thing that will get me to buy something new.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Theedge_45 wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

Yeah good point. Quantum reels, Falcon Rods, Booyah, p-line, ect are the things I rely on first and foremost.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

That is one hell of a job... I wonder what he did in order to get where he is today. Either way, doing something you love, like fishing sounds amazing. It is true however that the more realistic bait looks, the more willing we are to buy it, but I wonder if it intrigues fish as much as it does us. Better to say that in the future, hardbait will be made to catch more fishermen to buy than it will fish. haha

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I am loyal to live bait. However, going to the swamp and trapping my own is no longer an option due to restrictions requiring certified live bait.
So, any lure that looks, feels, and acts like a real bait fish will hook me!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

buckhunter:
A good question about the bad economy and lures. What I found in talking to buyers and retailers at a recent trade show is that lure sales overall have trended upward over the past 18 months as the economy has trended downward. Most seemed to think that's because a guy who is only working parttime now, for example, has more free time and goes fishing more--and can still find a few bucks to buy more lures and other terminal gear.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

I'm as bad as anybody else when it comes to sticking with the old tried and true, and I also like some of the great looking new lures that have come out. However, I got a good lesson on lures from my dad over fifty years ago when he took a bet with another fisherman, rigged a couple of hooks on a corncob and caught a half a dozen nice bass in one morning. His comment was, "That dumb expression on a fish's face ain't there for nothing."
Of course, that works the other way, too, since sometimes the fish are too dumb to bite some of these excellent lures when they should.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 37 weeks ago

you had an article about this in one of the magazines I was reading over the weekend of a my collection from past magazines. It's funny that you right about it now again after just seeing it in a past magazine could you say again though about his feelings of does cabela's making there brand of lures that copy name brand one's and selling them for less?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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