By David Gray
Doug Minor just embarked on his latest fishing adventure. Although this is a business adventure, it is very much about fishing. It took some talking to get Doug, who led Strike King lures through 37 years of innovation and growth, to consider coming out of retirement just weeks after retiring. But American Baitworks, a new and innovative tackle and lure-manufacturing business, was doing the talking. After every call with American Baitworks, Doug said he came away with a smile on his face.
Doug was honored for the opportunity to join the team. Their commitment to providing the angler with excellent products of superior quality at a fair price is exactly what Doug Minor believes in. As an angler, Doug knows that understanding lure performance provides an advantage in helping to create new fish-catching lures. As a business manager, Doug knows that combining manufacturing quality control with fish-catching passion is a philosophy that creates satisfied customers.
An angler from a very young age, and after many years in the outdoor industries, Doug says, “The most important thing about every product is that it delivers consistent performance.” As anglers, we have all experienced that on occasion, when one crankbait out of 5 or 6 of the same lures will catch more fish, they all should be the same. Doug and American Baitworks aim for the manufacturing of their lure products to consistent standards.
For Doug, fishing and hunting are everything. He was blessed to have a father that introduced him to those outdoor sports at an early age. Doug remembers being taught how to skull a small Alumacraft boat from the front seat.
Paddle in one hand, never disturbing the water and rod in the other. Dad also instilled in Doug a love of waterfowling at an early age. So early that Doug sat in the waterfowl blind in diapers! Doug said his Dad’s philosophy was “no baby sitter no problem,” a change of diapers and Doug went to the blind with Dad.
A passion for fishing and hunting served Doug well when it came to his work in guiding lure makers.
It is essential to design and develop new lures that work. Many companies put more physical movement into a lure that includes life-like images with more color, but fail to spend the time to thoroughly field test the product before releasing the product for sales. According to Doug, the action is the most critical part of a lure. And that does not mean just more movement that the angler sees. Bass are ambush predators and the action that the bass responds to is what is essential.
An angler only sees the action from above; a fish sees the action differently. Lots of field testing is needed to make a quality product with the type of action that interests the fish.
Take one of the American Baitworks lures the NetBaits – Paca Craw. Doug knew, like so many bass anglers, that the Paca Craw is an excellent weighted hook and jig trailer that outperforms many similar types of baits. The first time Doug looked at the Paca Craw in the technical test tank, not just an angler view from the surface, he was amazed at the action and knew why it was so effective.
Another passion for Doug is serving the angler well. Doug got his first tackle job in a small hardware store in Dixon, TN. His knowledge of fishing and hunting prompted the store owner to task Doug with setting up a fishing tackle department and then expanding to hunting and firearms. They were the only store in the area that took guns on trade, so Doug learned a lot from trading and how to treat all customers fairly. After his 37 years at Strike King, we asked Doug what his fondest memory was. Doug said, “The team spirit. No one was the star, and there were no heroes. We were a group, a team working all together to create great products and great service collectively.”
We asked Doug, “What got him to come out of retirement and join American Baitworks?” Doug said, “The consistent striving for excellence in product performance and quality by the American Baitworks team, and selling it at a fair price. All on the team are committed to superior lure performance with consistent quality lure to lure.” Most anglers have had the experience of a soft plastic that comes out of the bag with a bend or twist that is not part of the lure. Doug says, “The customer paid for a bag of lures, and every lure should be consistent and perform the same. The customer deserves that.” Doug added, “The commitment to quality is so great at American Baitworks that if one toe on a soft plastic lure is not working right, we will not sell it until we fix it. Then we know it will catch fish.”
We asked, “Why did American Baitworks acquire ScumFrog and SnagProof who have the oldest of surface frog lures on the market?” Doug answered, “There are many frog bait lures available, but none have exceeded the fishing-catching performance of these original designs.
These frog baits caught so many fish when they first came out, and they still do. They represent pure perfection in frog lure-making, they have great action. The action is the most important factor to a fish and these frogs deliver that. We manufacture each of these great baits in a new Trophy Series now, to a consistent performance quality that delivers performance and value for the angler.”
Anglers can expect new lures from American Baitworks soon; they are in development. As soon as they are thoroughly field-tested, and we know they deliver fishing catching performance, we will be offering them to anglers at a fair price. What’s next? The Freedom Tackle Mischief Minnow will be available soon. Michael Tamburro designed it, the Einstein of evolutionary and competent lure designers, urging perfection with every wiggle, waggle, sound, movement, and fish-attracting feature.
Each of the American Baitworks brands is managed with quality by skilled people that share a passion for fishing.
Doug said, “The new NetBaits Flex Worm is a finesse bait made with injection molding that is second to none. It has tantalizing action, and the quality of manufacture, bait-to-bait, is perfect. That’s one of our goals.”
Doug shares, “It took me a while to get used to the weekly American Baitworks staff meetings. Instead of jumping right into business, each person starts talking about the fishing trip last weekend. Things like they caught a 4-pound smallmouth and were so excited. After that, I realized it is the embedded fishing passion that drives this company to make fish-catching products at the highest measurable quality levels and sell them for a fair price. Maybe good for an angler to know the best part. We offer great lures with great action that catch fish, and they are made in the USA whenever possible.”
That says it all.