Joe SillsWritten by

The People of PRADCO: Bill Jarboe

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For 46 years and 7 months, Bill Jarboe has been putting history in your tackle box—and it all started at a Holiday Inn in Kansas. Jarboe could have stayed in the aircraft industry. He didn’t have to go to the job interview. He didn’t have to make the drive to the hotel in Wichita, on a late summers day in 1970. But he did. 

Then, Jarboe’s resume read of aerodynamics and aircraft design. Now, it’s a who’s who of legendary lures from some of the fishing world’s most iconic brands. Arbogast, Smithwick, Heddon…each has had a turn under Jarboe’s pen, as he crafted a reputation as PRADCO’s product, packaging and tooling designer. The Heddon One Knocker Spook? That’s one of Jarboe’s kids. The Smithwick Perfect 10? Another.

For 46 years, Jarboe has evolved with the times. First, from aerodynamics to fluid dynamics. Then, from model production to 3D lure design.

“How the product design would be,” Jarboe says, “Is Mr. Perrin would make a 4:1 model of the body, of what he wanted. And then, that would be traced on a hand-tracer out in the tool room.

Now, what we do is we do the design in the computer. Now, we can take it to a 3D printer and print the two body-halves that have all of these features in it. Then we get finished printing it, we put the hardware in it, we glue the two halves together, we test it in the tank and if we like it we go paint it and go fish it.”

“With the Perfect 10. I got with Jason Christie and met him over at Tenkiller. We had the Rogue. What he was doing was customizing the Rogue, and I went over and met with him to see, number one: how he was fishing it and what was different from what we were actually producing…I probably made 20 different paddles. I made it so he could slide the paddles in, he could fish ’em, he could slide that one out and put another one in the same body and fish it until we finally got to the paddle that he wanted. And that’s what really makes it neat, to be able to get out with these guys and see exactly what they want.”

A few weeks after their test runs, Jason Christie was leading the 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake. And Edwin Evers would ultimately go in to win the title, it’s the design process like that which still gives Jarboe a rush.

Asked why lure design is so important, Jarboe points to the fish:

“Fish get tired of seeing the same old thing all the time, and there’s reasons they strike particular things so you have to find different ways to present that same lure to them that entices them to strike.”

Chances are, if you’ve caught a fish in the last four decades, Bill Jarboe has had a hand in that.

Joe Sills Hi there, did you know? Each week, we curate a list of the Top 5 stories in fishing and send them right to your inbox. Reading Tackle’s Top 5 is one of the best ways to become or remain an industry expert. -Joe Sills, Digital Editor