C. M. Wiggle Bait Co.

About Carving

The following document was written by Ron McClellan. He has been carving contemporary lures far longer than I.  I do not endorse or deny his opinions, but I do find his insight to be interesting. A special thanks to Ron for his permission to use this composition.


Thoughts on Contemporary Handmade Lures

Written by Ron McClellan on September 01, 1999.
        Contemporary handmade lures: A bane or a blessing to "the hobby"? Well, as a contemporary maker myself, My opinion is a bit biased toward blessing. I've seen a ton of anonymous posts from folks who seem to think contemporary baits are crap. Of course they're bitter, cowardly morons, so they don't count. I am a bit disturbed about the small handful of E-mails and the occasional accountable post from folks who worry about us modern day makers messing up lure collecting. As far as us artisans "ruining the hobby", nothing could be farther from the truth.

        One thing about the present is that it is without exception destined to become the past! When Jim Heddon was sitting under a tree, knife in hand, whittling out that first minnow, he was working in what was at the time "the present" He was a "Contemporary lure carver". Ever since that time, there has been a steady stream of "Contemporary Carvers" all working in the "present", at least until the passage of nothing more than time has turned them into so-called "Antiques" To the nay-say-ers who believe us modern day carvers are bastardizing the lure collecting hobby, I have to ask; Just when is this steady stream of carvers supposed to be turned off? And Why? Please be specific. What month and year was designated as the end of handmade lure acceptability? Who picked that date?

        I've also been accused of trying to get too much money for my lures. THAT is ridiculous! A hand carved, hand-made, hand painted, hand assembled lure takes time to make, simple as that. Folks have been spoiled by the pricing of the factory made stuff assembled in foreign countries by an exploited labor force. In the early days, before mass production and Foreign Labor-exploitation were widely utilized, a nice handmade lure could cost a man a days pay. While today's corporations have reduced the cost of producing an effective fishing lure to less than an hours pay through the use on mechanization and ethically questionable labor practices, A fine handmade lure has stayed roughly the same. If anything, they cost less than they did, adjusted for monetary considerations. And, meaning no offense to the lure carvers of the past, The best handmade lures ever carved are being done TODAY. While some may say that with the availability of three dollar lures, there isn't any need for modern carvers, I beg to differ. We are needed BECAUSE of this mechanization! If you go to K-mart you can pick up a coffee table for well under a hundred bucks. To step up, you can go to a Furniture showroom like Ethan Allan Galleries and get a coffee table for six hundred dollars, You can step up FURTHER and get a Handmade table by a noted Craftsman for five thousand dollars, after being on his waiting list for two years! And they all do the same function, sit in front of your sofa so you can sit magazines and coffee on them. It all comes down to individual values and personal preferences. And I haven't even mentioned true antique tables!

        Another thing many people have missed is continuity. Think about it: In the year 2045, do you really think collectors aren't gonna be actively seeking out handmade lures from the "late 90's era"? Some of us contemporaries will be forgotten, others won't. This is no more predictable than the weather at this date and time one year from now. One thing is for sure, with communications being what they are, there is going to be PLENTY of DOCUMENTATION about today's makers, and documentation is one of the ingredients for collectibility. Another point is that most of the collectible old lures today were designed by men we all know about. We see a type of lure and we know who designed it. Companies used to buy designs from the famous makers. That doesn't happen much today. New lure designs are created by "committee". Not very interesting. Now handmade designs are if nothing else interesting!   Look at the stuff Adam Hartmann is making. Richard Whitehead, Peter Duguay! Now go to a tackle store and look at what's out there. Believe me, in thirty or forty years, you're gonna have some explaining to do to your sons, heh, heh. "Gee Dad, How come you don't have any good lures from the millennium era? Your handmade collection stops in the 1960's! What's with the hole in your collection?" Admittedly, I may be "less than accurate" with my prognostication, but I'd be willing to bet I'm not too far off!
                                                              ~ Ron McClellan ~ 



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