The fish don’t need us, you know. We need them. Without man, sport fish—the bass, trout, salmon, tuna, snook, redfish—they’d all continue prospering in some form or another just as the venerable coelacanth has for millennia. But without fish, without fishing—would people continue to prosper? It’s a riddle that may never be solved by most, but for the few individuals lucky enough to make their careers in this industry, the industry of fishing, the answer is a resounding no. They need the fish, and we need them to keep fishing.
For the past several months, FTR has partnered with PRADCO to tell stories about the people of fishing. These are the hands and hearts that have poured themselves into plastic molds to build lures by the names of Heddon, Bandit, YUM, BOOYAH, Norman, and Cotton Cordell. They’re the people who’ve made a mark on independent retail stores across the nation, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day for decades—and they’ve done it one breathe at a time.
They say there’s no better way to know yourself than to know your maker; the same could be said of your fishing lures. Here are their makers:
Danny Stoner, an injection-molder from Fort Smith, Arkansas who’s been patrolling the aisles of PRADCO since 1975. He carries the keys to the color palettes on your racks.
Bill Jarboe, a former aerospace designer who crafts the shapes cutting through America’s lakes and rivers on the other end of a fishing line. In his 46-year career, he’s transitioned from pen-and-pad to power processor. And still, he’s cranking out new designs to bring to your customers.
Connie Gibson, who began her career behind a computer the size of a refrigerator. She’s tracked, logged and watched orders come in through the doors in Fort Smith for decades; and she breaks down how technology has changed the way tackle companies take orders.
Carolyn Irvin, a quality control countess who just overcame surgery to continue the unending task of checking your products for perfection before heading out the door.
These are the people that make fishing work. They, and people like them, are the unseen eyes and ears behind the beating heart of the fishing industry. For without lures, there would be no anglers. And without anglers, there would be no one to sell to.
You already know your customers. Perhaps, now it’s time to know the people who make the products you sell just a little bit more, because the anglers, the retailers, the manufacturers and fish—we’re all in this together.