Much of the fishing-lure trade is a “me, too” business–one where manufacturers copy one another’s styles year after year. Not Patrick Sebile. A 41-year-old lure designer from France, he has hit the global angling scene in a whirlwind of originality. His 3-year-old company sold its 1 millionth lure in 2009, and the rapidly growing stable of Sebile lures promises to be among the hottest brands for 2010. His hard baits–from lipless crankbaits to jointed swimmers–look and act differently than their common equivalents among other major brands. But then, as I would discover during the course of my interview with him last year, so does Sebile himself.

Growing Up Globally

Catching a large carp as a very young boy from an uncle’s pond ignited Sebile’s passion for fishing. “In catching that one fish, I was just struck by the whole idea of fishing,” he told me. Raised in a single-parent home (he was 9 when his father died), Sebile was a surly, rebellious teenager, he admits. That’s the kind of kid who in this country sometimes winds up in a vocational or trade school–which is exactly what happened to Sebile in France. And it was there where he learned to make things on common machine tools like lathes and milling machines, including various ways of making molds.

By the time he was in his 20s, Sebile’s angling reputation had grown along with his fishing skills, allowing him to write for French fishing magazines and guide other anglers. He was also hired as a rod designer for Sert, a major fishing brand in Europe. “That early break gave me the confidence to make fishing into a career.”

Sebile became the quintessential fishing bum–throwing a line everywhere he could. He even had a stake in a fishing lodge in Guinea-Bissau, a country on the northwest coast of Africa, where in 2003 he guided a client to the 286-pound, world-record tarpon. To date, Sebile has fished in 61 countries, held 27 IGFA records, and caught more than 565 species of fish. That background now combines with a talent for making things to produce a range of extraordinary lures.

Intelligent Design

Sebile started his company in 2006 when he introduced his first lure, the Magic Swimmer, a double-jointed, hard-plastic swimbait that’s been hugely successful for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species. “I had wanted to create a hard bait that swims like a real fish, so I studied everything from how fish actually swim to the hydrodynamics of a hard body in water,” he said. “Eventually, I was able to make some segmented parts that moved in a true baitfish motion. Importantly, this was much more than just a good-­looking shape designed to catch fishermen before catching fish.”

In 2008, Sebile’s Blood Red Stick Shad series won the best new hard-lure award at the European tackle trade show, EFFTEX. The Stick Shad is a surface, or near-surface, hard bait that darts and walks when twitched with the rod tip. Notably, there’s a visible, blood-red liquid inside the lure that adds movement and low-frequency sound.

Last July, Sebile got another big boost: He won the awards for best new hard lure and soft lure at ICAST. In 30 years of attending that event, I can’t remember a single maker ever winning both awards in the same year. His new soft lure is the Magic Swimmer Soft, a soft-plastic swimbait version of his very first lure. The hard bait is the Spin Shad, a small, dense, and deeply keeled body trailed by a ­tapered spinner blade that flashes erratically like the tail of a panicked baitfish.

As nice, and as well deserved, as the recognition has been, Sebile isn’t in this for the awards. “Being able to create an artificial thing that makes a fish bite is a unique and rewarding feeling. Just think: I can imagine a lure design while at my home in Colorado. I might eventually do the three-dimensional drawings in France, test the prototypes in Australia, and then, after a while, find people catching fish with my lure in Texas. Having all that work out all over the world is a huge thrill for me.” Spoken like a true artist.