I was fortunate in that my father was an avid bass fisherman. He was teaching me how to catch bass before I can remember, photos prove it. As he has gotten older, he has quit the bass tournament scene. Bass fishing for fun, then for whatever might bite, my father isn’t up on all the fancy equipment we use these days. Well that’s not exactly true; he still cruises the isles at the tackle stores and checks out all the new and improved but rarely buys things.
When we get together, we talk fishing. We’ll talk about fishing when I was a boy, fishing from last weekend and the fishing we’re going to do. In these discussions, we will occasionally get on the subject of baits, baits that worked in the past and baits we catch them on now. Funny thing, he is still using the same Rebel Pop’r and Zarra spooks that he used when I was a kid. Not literally the same bait, but the same products. Now me, I’m fishing Yellow Magic’s and Lucky Craft baits. He spends 4-5 dollars a bait, and I spend 10-20 dollars a bait.
My father resides just outside Springfield, Missouri; I honestly think he retired there because of the Bass Pro Headquarters. Anyway, we are walking the isles, and I needed some Trokar Flipping hooks. As I’m picking through the sizes, he exclaims several profanities. This caught me off guard and thought maybe he had slipped or something. I turn around to see he is holding a pack of these hooks, and he had just realized the price! While eating lunch, in the store, we debated over the subject of product pricing.
While I wouldn’t admit to him that I thought he was correct, his sole argument was that we as anglers pay these prices, and that causes the manufacturers to keep going up in price. According to him these increases in prices will continue until they find the anglers breaking point. I argued that the technology that went into building products now is much more advanced and very expensive. These expenses needed to be recouped, and that was through pricing. Research and Development isn’t cheap.
My father drives a Ranger and has the best electronics he could buy for it at the time (2007). So, I turned the tables on him, asking what the difference was between the Lowrance on his boat and the hook I just bought. He went into a long story about how sonar works, how programming is difficult, and then getting a sonar reading turned into something that can be displayed on a screen takes electronic hardware. “It’s a computer sitting on your boat”. I agreed with him and then asked how he thought the hooks were made. It takes the same hardware and software, just doing different things, to get that hook made and sharpened. Then we debated, is research and development any cheaper for baits versus electronics.
R & D for lures is not a matter of whittling a couple out and trying them in your back yard pond. Customers that are paying these prices expect perfection, or near perfection. First the bait has to be developed to perform in a certain manner. Then comes color schemes and how those will be created. I’ve see stick baits with reel minnow skin on them. How about hardware, top of the line hook eyelets and hooks themselves are not cheap. 3D eyes, scale finishes, and a rock hard coating all add to the price of a bait. Sure you can get a Rebel Pop’R for three dollars or a Yellow Magic for nine dollars. The Yellow magic will have a more realistic finish, better clear coating, better hooks, even a feather on the tail. A yellow Magic will also last longer than the Pop’R. Will it last three times as long, don’t know until you try.
After a good hour of debate, we agreed to disagree. However, I actually agreed with him to some extent. As consumers, we have the ability to control a market. However, that said a market that everyone looks for the next greatest thing, this is not going to happen. If a manufacturer puts a product out there, gives it to several anglers up front, and they go out and catch fish; or especially if these anglers win a tournament with it, you can bet everyone is going to want it. Now, with anglers crawling over each other to get this bait, a manufacturer will raise the price to find the supply and demand of the bait. Unfortunately with bass anglers, demand isn’t and issue, we’ll pay just about anything if we believe it will catch a bass.
Baits and bass for thought. Have you ever sat back and wondered exactly what is your breaking point. Unfortunately to say, mine is pretty high, however, the proof has to get pretty strong for me to spend more than 10-12 dollars on a bait.