Cermele: The Art of Artificials

I have a good friend who is an absolute lure junky. If it's new he knows about it first, be it from the big tackle manufacturers or the small garage lure builders. The last time we spoke, he tipped me off about a California lure company called Trophy Sticks.

"You have to check them out," he said, sounding like a kid who just got his first glimpse of a Play Boy. "I'll have them get in touch with you."

And sure enough, they did, kindly sending me a few samples. These jerkbaits are hand-crafted from balsa wood with a scale-pattern finish I can only describe as having a hammered look. Very detailed. And the paint jobs are just awesome, capturing subtle reflective qualities you see in real baitfish. The photo below does not do the lure justice, so you'll have to take my word for it.
Lure
I took these lures out this weekend and swam them, and they move beautifully. But when we found ourselves surrounded by busting bluefish, I hesitated before casting, then opted to take the lure off. Knowing how expensive they are, how pretty, and how much love goes into making them, I couldn't bring myself to cast a Trophy Stick into the fray just to have it ripped apart. A lure so fine and delicate almost seems worthy of a glass display case.

With so many small custom, handmade lure companies out there today in the largemouth, musky, and striper circles, I'm curious to know who believes custom baits are the ticket and, thus, worth the price some fetch? Ever bought one just as an art piece with no intent to fish it? I have and I guess I'll wait to test the durability of Trophy Sticks until I'm on fish with less teeth.

JC