Carved wood features. Sealed. Thru wire construction. Hand laid foil. Custom painted. Durable clear. Hand-tied treble hooks.
In the world of lures, the attributes listed above equals 3 things: tons of painstaking hand labor, lots of build time and higher than usual lure cost. It also makes the niche' custom angler market excited. The avid tournament anglers thrive on gaining an on the water edge. The lure that wasn't covered all those bases. The burning question is so why did it fall off the agenda? It was a victim of timing.
Around 2008, Custom Lures Unlimited (CLU) was at the apex in carved, high end, custom lures, especially with wooden lures. At one point, there were 29 different custom hard baits fueling the business, about 50/50 wood to plastic. Multiple world champion anglers were users. The slow death of custom began with the economic recession of 2009-14. As US gas cost eclipsed $4/gallon the death nails to custom were constant. Anglers that once wouldn't blink an eye on spending $25 for a hand- crafted, hand tuned lure, now wouldn't open their tackle wallets at any price. The CLU 6" wooden, carved, high detail, jointed Gemini-Pro swimbait tanked at even a mere $35. Fathom that in today's swimbait market.
The lure that wasn't fell victim to the economic downfall. By the summer of 2013, the writing was on the wall. Custom was DOA. The transition from CLU (all custom) to Catch (production) began. With today's hindsight, this is an easy picture to paint, ...now, though at the time hard. Custom was the life, every day, for more than a decade, lures were carved daily, built, made to order, painted by hand, one by one, for over 5,000 days. Tens of thousands built. The lure that wasn't was the final lure that was on the workbench when the decision was made to let go of custom and move onward.
It's been almost a decade now and the lure that wasn't still isn't. Yes, that's the sad story of a single wooden lure. Fortunately, though, this story has a happy ending, directly leading to the birth of tackles like the Jack Slap, Zero Gravity Jig, Danny Joe's Original Floating Worm, AirQuake, AirDrop, Catawba Worm, Spitball Jig, Mach-K, and Prism 5x hooks.
The lure that wasn't was successfully tested. It had a name. Perhaps one day, it will become the lure that was.
- Kelly Barefoot, Pres. Catch Outdoors