Seward, Nebraska-based deal with maker, Patterson’s Reel Bait Sort out, was based in 1967 by present proprietor, Al Patterson’s father, an inventor who spent hours on the College of Nebraska speaking with chemistry professors and different teachers—gas for his progressive concepts in deal with designs.

“I can bear in mind visiting the College with my dad again within the ‘60s,” mentioned Al Patterson. “That they had some irradiated meat sitting out on the counter displaying the way it by no means decomposed. From seeing this, my dad bought a trademark on one thing known as BioBait and he began on a mission to develop a reside bait bombarded with radio isotopes that will by no means decay. The thought was to bombard nightcrawlers, leeches, and minnows with radio isotopes to maintain them in perpetuity.”

There was a hitch, although. Enzymes would kind on the irradiated reside bait.

“So, we had a bucket of minnows irradiated, a bucket of nightcrawlers, and a bucket of leeches. We had all of them within the packages they got here in from the College of Minnesota and we opened up the primary bundle and it was nothing however water. And the nightcrawlers have been identical to pure water. One thing occurred there and we weren’t positive what. We opened the bundle of irradiated leeches and found the identical factor. No shade, no something. Simply water. We opened the minnows and located the tiny skeleton of a minnow, however the remainder of the bundle was stuffed with water. What had occurred was the enzymes had eaten the bait.”

The Reelbait Flasher Jig

Patterson continued: “Now they are saying for those who get a grass stain to rub OxyClean on it and what occurs is the OxyClean enzymes eat the stain. Properly, that’s what occurred to our bait. Regardless of this setback, my father was on the precipice of determining a bio-synthetic manner of manufacturing a preserved bait that had all of the pure really feel, liveliness, and mobility of reside bait.”

However Al’s father handed earlier than he realized the dream and Al needed to take over operations.

“In the meantime, we had a sick toddler and we’d make recordings of us studying books that they might play our little one once we weren’t within the hospital,” he mentioned. “The child was within the hospital for 10 months and finally handed away. As a substitute of getting a stomach button, our son had a bubble on the skin with all of his intestines in it. He had 3 million {dollars} of surgical procedures—14 or 15 in whole. After we weren’t there, they’d play these tapes to our son. However I couldn’t learn a e-book with out breaking down crying, so I’d open up my deal with field and begin the tape recorder and undergo all of the completely different lures and describe how we have been going to fish with them and the form of gear we’d use to fish them.

This turned generally known as ‘The Sort out Field Tapes’. I had phenomenal insurance coverage at my day job and was driving to Omaha each different day to go to him. To get my thoughts off issues I made a decision to start out making up extra worm harnesses. A kind of rigs I designed was the back-bead spinner, however I didn’t actually get into all of the fishing stuff till our son handed away. I’d come downstairs the place I had just a little workshop arrange and I additionally had just a little bar space. I knew if I went into the bar I’d by no means come out, so I put all of my energies into designing and constructing fishing lures and we began rising as a enterprise. The jigs adopted not lengthy after and we turned a distributor for Reef Runner. On the identical time, I used to be tying all types of spinners and molding a number of completely different sorts of jigs: wobble jigs, swim jigs, roundheads, all types of stuff.”

Alongside the way in which, a good friend of Al’s launched him to walleye angler Blaine Brown, which actually put issues into movement.

“Blaine was the man who fished towards Northland Sort out founder John Peterson in one of many early PWT tournaments on Lake Okoboji. Beginner Blaine Brown drew John Peterson as his companion the primary day and John knowledgeable him that they’d be fishing crankbaits that specific day,” he mentioned. “Blaine responded that the one purpose he signed up for the event was to fish his personal jig design, the unique hand-poured, painted, and constructed Walleye Flasher Jig. Properly, John compromised and advised Blaine they’d fish three rods with cranks and one along with his jigs. Lengthy story brief, Blaine put 36 kilos of walleyes in John’s boat that day. That put John Peterson within the lead for the professional division and Blaine in first amongst the amateurs. The second day Blaine drew Norb Wallock and Norb says, ‘No matter you’re doing Blaine, I’m all in in” and so they ended up placing 38 kilos of walleyes within the boat on Day 2.”

Thus, on the finish of the second day of the three-day event Blaine Brown was in first place for the amateurs and had twice the burden of any of the professionals.

That’s all properly and good however in these days, they wiped the slate clear going into Day 3. On Day 3 Blaine’s companion fished the center of the lake and their luck wasn’t nearly as good. So, one other newbie received the boat and motor and cash.

Walleye professional Norb Wallock bought up on the stage after profitable the event and mentioned to the profitable newbie, “I need you to go over and shake Blaine Brown’s hand and thank him for letting you are taking his boat and motor house.”

“Wallock mentioned he’d by no means seen a jig like Blaine Brown’s Walleye Flasher and a bait that might bag so many fish. Finally, Wallock launched me to Blaine and mentioned you’ve bought to make this man’s jigs, no matter that entails. I mentioned I’d have a look at it,” Recalled Patterson. “So, Blaine got here out and I requested him how a lot he needed from us to license and manufacture it, and he responded ‘I simply need some jigs, I’m uninterested in making them and I need any individual who could make them and provide me with them once I want them.’ He then gave me the rights to make the Walleye Flasher jigs and we bought a copyright and trademark on the identify; there wasn’t something to patent as a result of it was already patented. It was already on the market and there wasn’t a patentable factor on it. So, we went into manufacturing, and it was form of a neighborhood factor at first however then impulsively it caught on.”

Though stationed for many of the 12 months at his house workshop/distribution workplace, Patterson has a cabin in Saskatchewan that simply occurs to be subsequent to the house of famend Canadian anglers and communicators, Jeff and Jason Matity.

“I’ve identified the Matity boys since they have been whipper-snappers. My son would see Jeff Matity within the yard and Jeff advised my son he needed to be taught to catch walleyes like that man on the water in entrance of the cabins to which my son replied, ‘that’s my dad, wish to exit with him?’ So, my son and I taught Jeff Matity the way to jig fish,” he mentioned.

Years later Patterson positioned his first commercial in In-Fisherman, and it was located instantly throughout from an article written by none-other-than Jeff Matity and co-authored by Doug Stange.

Jeff Matity

“My son known as me from California and mentioned, ‘dad, you gotta have a look at this—I believe I do know this man. I believe that’s the child from subsequent door up in Saskatchewan!’ So, I known as In-Fisherman and bought related with Jeff Matity once more and he began utilizing our jigs and Fergie spoons up in Canada and caught a number of fish on so subsequent promotions all through Canada was simple. Earlier than that, we had the fellas at Out of doors Quest in Canada, Richard Mellon and TJ Schwanky, who have been large followers of our Flasher Jigs and Fergie Spoons. TJ was the top of the Canadian Sportswriters’ Affiliation and Mellon was the top-rated Canadian PWT competitor. “So, we supported Mellon and had a great Canadian connection given our ties to Saskatchewan. And it was truly Mellon’s spouse who was utilizing the Walleye Flasher jigs within the winter by way of the ice who bought them used for ice fishing. One factor led to a different and the fellows on Lake Winnipeg mentioned we love your jigs, however we want one thing harder. I mentioned what they wanted was to be taught to make use of their drag, however truth is that they have been routinely catching 10- to 14-pound walleyes so we up’d the hook dimension with the Gamakatsu and gave it an extended, larger, and stouter hook. They took off from there and away we went. I attempted to get some individuals up in Canada to mildew them for me and all they did was steal the design, knock ‘em off, and have them made in China. Seems the product they got here out with broke simply and so they by no means took off.”

Years earlier than its success in Canada, Patterson’s Unique Walleye Flasher Jig additionally proved its deserves on the PWT Championship in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“We have been sitting within the conference middle watching the parade of glitter boats drive in and Northland Fishing Sort out’s John Peterson was strolling round. I pulled out a jig from my pocket and mentioned, “John, you keep in mind that jig from Okoboji, to which he replied, ‘positive do’. Lengthy story brief, he form of kicked himself for not making the unique Walleye Flasher for us as a result of it was catching so many fish on tournaments within the U.S. and Canada,” he mentioned.

Extra Historical past of the Unique Walleye Flasher Jig

It was roughly 15 or 20 years in the past that the Walleye Flasher jig got here out. Blaine Brown and his household developed it for fishing walleyes on Glen Elder Lake in Kansas. Blaine’s uncle was a fishing information and people first runs of jigs have been made solely to assist his uncle put extra shoppers on fish.

Patterson recalled: “As soon as we bought concerned, we marketed in In-Fisherman for a 12 months or two and sponsored the NPAA, however at the moment the one factor anglers purchased from us have been Reef Runners. After which phrase travelled, and the jig gross sales went loopy. Then everyone with an previous battery and tire weights began to knock them off.”

Patterson mentioned that over time they’ve put numerous {dollars} into R&D and promotions, solely to see the market explode with me-too jigs mimicking the Unique Flasher Jig design.

“We promote our personal baits and don’t attempt to copy anybody. That’s not the way in which we play the sport. With individuals saying they modified the design 10% to get by, there are a number of copycats on the market. Downside is it takes some huge cash to litigate that. You possibly can win the battle and lose the struggle. All I do know is we’re in Canadian shops. We’ve bought one retailer out by Lake McConaughey, and so they do very well. Nevertheless it’s been an extended highway. I’ve met some fantastic individuals alongside the way in which, however I’ve by no means labored so arduous for one thing for thus little, whereas nonetheless reaching a number of success.

”Truth is, the product catches fish and that’s what it’s about. And the merchandise that’s stored us alive is the Unique Flasher Jig. Whereas my background is in engineering, I do know that whenever you spend $1 in promoting try to be getting a a number of return on that greenback. All we will do is maintain doing what we’re doing whereas sustaining high quality and bettering issues as we go. We’ve all the time counted on fishermen and word-of-mouth for lots of credibility and a number of promotion. That’s real-world stuff. I get calls from all around the U.S. and Canada with guys telling tales concerning the fish they’re catching on our hard-to-find merchandise. A number of these guys and gals have was good buddies who merely purchase direct,” mentioned Patterson.

“Considered one of my finest prospects is Cliff Hollis and son Matt Hollis in Washington who fish the Columbia River. Cliff’s caught double-digit walleyes that he hasn’t even turned in as data. He’s after the world-record walleye, interval. Among the fish he and his son have caught on our jigs have been so massive they wouldn’t slot in a salmon web. They’re chasing fish within the 20s, not the 14s and 15s. And Cliff says he’s personally had three of them hooked on with our jigs—the Unique Flasher 1-ounce jig.”

matt hollis colombia river walleye
Matt Hollis Colombia River walleye on a Flasher Jig.

Patterson nonetheless runs the enterprise out of the basement of his home, the identical place the place it began again within the ‘60s. Given the various kinds, sizes, and colours of jigs, he has all of his casting performed by the highest names in that occupation. He mentioned he has “sufficient to fret about with federal excise tax and people individuals”, not to mention the EPA and new guidelines and rules for the lead smelting course of.

Reelbait Flash Jig
Flasher Jigs

“It’s gotten to the purpose the place it’s simply loopy to be a jig maker,” he mentioned in closing. “However I’ll maintain doing it till the day I die. I simply love speaking to of us on the telephone who’re catching their private finest fish on our merchandise. That basically retains my dream—and the dream my father had—alive.”

Click on the hyperlink to be taught extra about Patterson’s Reel Bait Sort out Firm, or name (402) 643-4127 to talk with Al or Holly.

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