Blue Blood, Firetiger, or Coach Dog?
Hughes now sells his lures through 19 dealers in the Midwest and on his Web site (hughescustombaits.com; 417-739-5881), where a riot of competing typefaces and colors direct the viewer to detailed photos of his most popular patterns. An interactive feature allows visitors to create their own custom lures by dragging different colors onto a bait's back, sides, belly, and eyes. He charges $10 to paint a lure, $17 if he supplies the lure himself, more if you want one of the superpremium lures now coming out of Japan (like the Lucky Craft Sammy, a floating lure with glass rattles inside that normally sells for $15). For another $5, he'll drill into your floating lure and weight it until it suspends in the water, increasingly popular among anglers who retrieve their bait past where a hungry largemouth might be lurking, then "kill" the lure, hoping to goad a bass into attacking something uppity enough to stop right in front of its nose. Hughes will paint your lure in any of dozens of patterns, from yellow perch to firetiger, blue blood to parrot, plum shad to coach dog (white with black spots).