Thursday, October 6, 2011

Featured Product : Fish Creek Spinners

Today I'm very fortunate to be featuring an interview with John Delaney , owner and operator of Fish Creek Spinners.  John has been gracious enough to agree to talk with me about his product line as a way of introducing a great company that makes unique and effective alternative baits for fishermen. Be sure to head over to the FCS Store so you can put some "Noise on YOUR Line" during your next fishing trip! John also has a great sale going on , so be sure to use the code FishFrosty to get 38% off your order until 11/11/11. I've featured FCS baits here on the blog before , but after using them and having good luck with them I wanted to dig a little deeper to find out some of the ins and outs of making and selling fishing lures. Here's what John had to say :

JM : First , can you tell me a little about the first spinner bait you made and how you got into making your own spinners?

JD : Sure Josh, thanks for the interest in Fish Creek Spinners!

As far as a first spinner, it was a beaut! I’ll have to reconstruct  it for a picture, lol.
You’re looking at a nostalgia item here! – big parts and primitive - not a pretty sight. Zero shelf appeal, but still an effective lure.

The Original FCS
It covered the basics - spun like a roulette wheel, had a strobe like a timing light, and caught fish!

I guess what intrigues me most about making tackle, is that I can create and assemble different parts into something that a fish and anglers will both be interested in.

I tied flies growing up in Wisconsin and making spinners was the same kind of activity. You sit down create something and then make a bunch. In the case of spinners, you do it with shiny hard stuff.

I quickly got into creating different designs; off the wall cross-over stuff that integrated whatever I thought I could string on a wire. I started calling them ‘Alternative Spinners’ and dreaming about a business.

I’ve always enjoyed fishing with spinners. I can walk the streams and banks, get my feet wet, and experience the outdoors. Even hunting, I like to walk, not stand. One or two casts in a hole and on to the next.

It’s always been fun to explore and find a new place to return to.  Keep the senses sharp, be alert. I might see a mink, a kingfisher, or an osprey.

JM : How did those first few spinners evolve into a viable business?

JD : They haven’t yet, but I still feel we’re a success! One thing about spinners, if you have a passion for it, they bushel pretty fast. We’ve sold 50k and are on our way to 100k. We pride ourselves as being small, friendly and adaptive.

I joke with Marie that I could sell spinners in a desert, and I have.  Once I sold some spinners to a bait shop shared with an adult movie rental. I’ve sold to guys in the parking lots. Fishermen, seeing me leave a retailer, have bought them out of the trunk. The spinners sell themselves.

Marie tells me that we’re a non-profit. Sales are reinvested to fuel growth, and we continue to grow, so I guess we’re both right.

JM : Aside from the wide variety of spinners you offer , is there anything that makes FCS stand out from the competition?

JD : Components like blades, wire, beads and hooks come from US companies; Worths, Hagens, Lakeland, Wright McGill (Eagle Claw).

We offer alternatives that look and sound different.

I started integrating faceted glass because the faceted surfaces reminded me of fish scales.Glass was highly reflective and made from sand. On the practical side, I could find lots of colors, shapes and sizes.

The best part was that the beads had a ‘HOLE IN THEM!!!’ and I could string them on my stainless steel wire. They looked better than plastic, were hard and sounded better. Other spinners weren’t using it.

Noise on the Line!

Glass Armadillos!
Glass was great, but it needed to be protected from rocks. I started using small metal discs to protect the glass. This was a breakthrough. The discs wobbled and vibrated during retrieve against the rotating blade. After using the spinner a day, I noticed score lines on the underside of the blade, where the discs were rubbing on it.

The discs also clacked against the glass, acting as mini disc brakes, they caused the beads to rotate. Talk about an underwater multi-media show.

I had hydrophone recordings made and started using the ‘Noise on the Line’ phrase on the tubes and cards, as well as other advertising. Fun stuff.

The bottom line is we’re a small, friendly, and adaptive family business. We’re having fun and feel successful selling quality products to interested anglers around the globe.

JM : I've really enjoyed the tube that my spinners were shipped in. It's perfect for carrying a spinner and a few jigs on short trips. Have other customers felt the same way and was this intentional or just a lucky coincidence?

JD : Spinners have hooks that need to be protected by containers. Initially, I tested whether they would sell at Mile High Flea Market. I bought some 6mil plastic bags and priced them to sell. I also got my first tackle trade name license that year – Osprey Lure Company.

People stopped at the space to talk fishing and bought spinners. It worked! Enough that I started thinking about better packaging and how to better display them.

As a fisherman, I’ve tore open and discarded my share of packaging. Packaging adds cost and enough that I wanted something reusable that might add value. I imagined ‘pocket tackle’.

I found some clear plastic tubes doing internet searches. Then I designed a wooden display that could hold 36 spinners – 12 pegs, 3 to a peg. The displays could stand upright or be wall mounted with a deck screw.

I wood burned a logo on the display and started hitting the back country mom and pops enroute to our camping destinations. Many are still customers and I wish I had thought to number them. I still offer the spinners this way. There’s a couple in VA, btw!

For larger retailers and wall mounting, I designed a custom rack card that holds the tube. The card has fish theme artwork from fish caught on the spinners and bar codes.

Packaging is always under review and recently I found some clear clamshell containers that I liked.
Talk about an uproar, existing customers sure like those pop top tubes!

JM : What's the future look like for Fish Creek Spinners?

JD: Each year, lessons are learned and course corrections get applied. We’ve got a bearing point set and mile markers behind us! Just stay tuned and stop by to find out!

We were kind of adrift this past year. I invested a lot of energy trying to line up a distributer. Got strung along then it didn’t pan out. As luck had it, we also expanded into several new species markets, which sidetracked my focus during the early part of the year.

Big Spinners!
Armadillo’s, lots of Armadillo’s. More big spinners for sure.

Great deals online, for anglers around the world.

JM : Can you tell me about the first fish you caught on one of your own spinners?

JD : First time out with that one pictured above, I took it along to the Miracle Mile on the North Platte river, north of Sinclair, WY.

I was fishing the inside of the big bend, below Cortez Dam. This bad boy weighed close to 1/2oz and the river was wide. I couldn’t wait to sling it over to the other side and get it wet! Casting slightly upstream, my second cast hit the mark, just off the far bank.

It was a beautiful sunny morning, and my line glistened as it settled to the water. The braided PVC was buoyant and caught the sun. It looked as enticing in the water, as I had imagined, back in the hardware store!

As the current started to arch the spinner back toward me, a ‘big’ trout surfaced and cut it off, striking upstream into a strong flow. Amazed he was hooked, I got him turned toward me and started hearing my drag working as I brought him back across. I didn’t expect to land him, but he stayed at the surface, most of the fight. What a sight, watching that incredible fish and my spinner!

I was on the roadbed side and had to scramble over big rocks to find a shallow pocket to land him, where the North Platte current wasn’t out of control. They were releasing water from the reservoir.

It was a big beautiful brown trout, maybe 4-5 pounds. Caught on a spinner I cobbled together from tubing I found in a hardware store. No picture, back in the water he went, both of us reflecting on the moment.

That experience showed me alternative spinners could catch fish, and broke down a wall that made some room for Fish Creek Spinners.

JM : What is your most memorable catch with a Fish Creek Spinner?

JD : Lots of catches -
Big Pike in the Yampa River
Rapid Fire Cutthroats in Zirkel Wilderness Beaver ponds
South Platte Rainbows

My most memorable catch is yet to come, but rumor has it, it will be watching my 2 year old grandson Landon catch his first trophy on a Fish Creek Spinner that he made. He’s a little engineer and loves hanging out with ‘PA’ surrounded by spinners and components; sorting parts, dumping parts, and laughing as only a two year old can.

JM : I know lots of people submit catch reports and photos to you , what are your favorites?

JD: They all get me excited! I sponsor fishing forums around the country and run monthly ‘kids fish photo’ contests.

I guess my favorite pictures are those with a smiling kid and their fish, regardless of what they used to catch it. I’ve never picked a winner. I just end up sending them each a couple spinners. It’s too hard to pick a winner in that crowd, so they all win!

JM : Can you recommend some spinners and the species they work well for?

JD: Our spinners work on any species that strikes spinners.  I recommend the Armadillo’s for small and medium fish; Trout, panfish, crappie, walleye’s, and bass. The larger Dinnerbells built for heavier fish like Pike, Salmon, Muskie and some saltwater species. When I get back to the east coast, we’ll have to spend some time in BlueRidge, Backbay and the Atlantic! Sound good, Josh?

JM : Definitely sounds good John! What's your favorite fishing memory?

JD: We had a trout stream running through the family farm that was adjacent to my great uncles farm. His place sat on top a ledge on a bend of the creek. An ancient cedar growing along the water had fallen, years before and the current had eroded the stream bed under the trunk, to form a big dark hole. A big rain storm eventually took the fallen tree downstream, but it’s broken trunk and roots remained.

The roots fanned out over the water along one bank, much like spokes on a wheel. Over years, other cedars grew along the broken trunk and took over the ancestors spot in the sky, shading the hole.

As a 12 year old, I used to lay in the shade on those roots, just above the water, and stare down into the depths below at the trout and suckers laying on the bottom. All of us escaping the sun’s heat.  Watching, imagining, one with the fish.

Then my uncle would see me, laugh and tell me to get to work and go get the cows. It was a working world back then and it still is today! Idle hands and all that, LOL.

JM : I'd like to take this opportunity to thank John and Fish Creek Spinners for doing this interview with us. Do your self a favor and stock up on your favorite designs , you'll be glad you did!

You can also find more great info about what's happening at Fish Creek Spinners at the FCS blog and find the latest video submissions on the FCS Youtube Channel

Don't forget to sign up to follow Fish Creek Spinners on Facebook for updates about sales , special discounts and giveaways in your news feed!

Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. The writeup looks great Josh, thanks for your support.

    Noise on the Line!



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