BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 39

Bait Manufacturer Spotlight:

most own- ers of bait companies, Andi Sanders of Talon Custom Lures did not set out be a tackle designer. As a pro- angler fishing the Bassin’ Girls tourna- ments for four years, she spent her days as a research scientist. It was only after her husband Ivan, who had started the com- pany in 1985 as Lead Head Lures, was injured while on the job as a firefighter that she turned her avocation into her job. Since 1996 she has been running Talon, designing and making innovative small baits with artisan details and she couldn’t be happier about it. Talon is known for their super-durable spinnerbaits and jigs and beautiful paint schemes, including the Japanese-influ- enced Shubui series, but it’s their tried- and-true football heads that Andi calls their best kept secret. “The Talon football jigs have won over a million dollars in tournaments.” Recently Lake Fork guide John Tanner let her know about five fish he caught on their football jigs on a day out with clients - adding up to a 47.58 lb. string. Just this January, Talon pro staff Ben Matsubu and Andrew Upshaw took third in the Bass Champs tournament on Lake Amistad fishing the 7/8 oz. football head. These Custom Weedless Football Jigs are more complicated than they look. The jigs are hand tied with wire-bound skirts for durability, the head sealed to reduce lead-leeching into the water, and the weed guard is placed at an angle specially de- signed to punch through cover without preventing strong hook sets. Based on his request for larger sizes, Talon developed the 5/8 oz. and a 7/8 oz. sizes with Ben Matsubu. Their Shibui series, named for the Japanese concept of aesthetic beauty and intrinsic quality, features two distinct designs, both with a Japanese influence. The Ookii Jig is designed to work with soft plastic trailers and features an unusual a two-part, long, thick skirt that is designed to float and spread open underwater, re- vealing a hidden trailer. The Shibui Custom Spinnerbait has a lifelike bait fish head and is painted with a 50-stage, multi-col- ored paint process on a lightweight but

Talon lures

strong stainless steel/titanium combina- tion wire frame. Ivan’s daughter Elizabeth also works for the company, molding and painting baits. Operating out of a small town in Tex- as, the two of them run most of the opera- tion themselves, with just some seasonal help during the busy season. Andi credits Ivan’s ability to read trends in the industry and identify gaps in their product line for their successes in introducing new lures. In 2006 they launched the Lipstickers Pro Custom Shaky Heads, designed to take a straight worm trailer. They were the first to put a spring in to screw on trailers, and, at the time, there was nothing to compare it to, making the design process complicated. After six months and several prototypes they finally got it right. It now comes in 4 sizes from 1/16 oz. to 5/16 oz. and ac- cording to Andi, “it’s the cat’s meow.” Elizabeth started working with her dad building lures as a kid, and now does ev- erything form pouring jigs to painting and powder coating. She walked me through the process of the centrifugal casting pro-

cess, which heats lead up to 800 degrees and spins it into place into molds over the hooks. The whole process takes un- der five minutes to produce 8-12 jigs, but that’s taking into account that she’s been making them since grade school. After the hot baits are spun and removed from the mold, they are cleaned and prepped for paint. Weed guards are attached and the half-day long painting process beings. With between 2000-3000 baits in a batch, that’s a lot of paint. A life-long angler, Elizabeth also likes to get out on the water, especially at near- by Toledo Bend, but when I asked if she’d been out lately she told me “not lately - we’ve just been busy getting orders out.” The hands-on process of making these baits is old-school and labor intensive, but they like it that way. Andi considers one of the advantages of being a women-run business in this field is “our attention to detail - everything is pretty.” Their trade-


January/February 2010