Editor: iBass360 pro staff Misty Schmidt brought our attention to fellow Texans Brian Washburn and Tim Cook and their Forage Lures company. We have been following the growth of Forage ever since and really appreciate their custom crank offerings. The following is a discussion iBass360’s Eric Evans had with the Forage founders about their business.
Tim: Brian and I have been fishing together for 30 years. What I remember best is catching my very first bass in a Jon boat with Brian in 1987. We’ve been a winning team ever since.
Eric: What inspired you to start making and marketing your own lures? Tell us the Forage story.
Tim: When you fish with someone a lot, you get to know all their strengths, weaknesses too. I always thought Brian had a great eye for color and baits. I bought him an air compressor and air brush 10 years ago, but he didn’t do anything with it. After some conversing, we decided to revisit the idea a couple years ago and we gave it a try. I wasn’t wrong. Brian has talent, a real gift with that air brush. Once we both realized the potential, I bought all the equipment and set up a studio in my shop and we started cranking out baits (pun intended).
Eric: Do think your designs- especially your custom colors- are targeted to a particular style of fishing, a particular species of fish or a particular type of water? Which of these has the most influence on your lure making?
Tim: After 30 years, there is no denying we are bass fishermen, so that is our primary target. We really focus on reproducing real forage. With Brian’s skills we try very hard to match the hatch and get the colors as lifelike as
possible. We know we still have a ways to go, but the goal is to paint baits that make you do a double take and leave you- and hopefully the fish- thinking they are real.
Eric: So once you decided to market your products, how did you go about promoting your business and spreading the word?
Tim: There is no question that marketing is, and has been, a challenge on a small budget. Word of mouth, and Facebook- of course- have been our best friends. We are about to start an email marketing campaign. We will be partnering with a couple of high profile TEXAS anglers next year with their own signature series colors which we hope brings us some good visibility. We are also actively seeking over 100 Pro Staff anglers around the country to help us spread the word in 2018.
Eric: How do you decide what to keep on the market and what to take off the market?
Tim: Given our size and current budget limitations, the best way to do that is to let our customers tell us what works and what doesn’t through their buying patterns and requests.
Eric: How did you go about deciding what materials to use to optimize your bait performance?
Tim: This is a tough one, and we have wrestled with it. We made a strategic decision to buy blanks from domestic sources. The buyers of custom vs. mass market baits seem to prefer to buy American and it gives us a little more flexibility on delivery. But, with a bit of regret, it does limit us to the blanks available from these domestic sources and, as many of you know, there are some exciting shapes being developed overseas. Nevertheless, we have talked about the idea of making our own blanks either from balsa or molded foam. This idea is still in the formative stages- meaning we have not tried it yet.
Eric: If you could only use just one of your baits for 1 year, which would it be and why?
Tim: No doubt, it would be a bad vibe lipless crank. I understand it is your favorite too, Eric. Brian and I may differ on color, but that bait works everywhere and year round. We always “tie one on” as one of our large
competitors would say.
Eric: Any last things we need to know about Forage Lures?
Tim: We love what we are doing. We find real joy in making custom baits for other fisherman and watching their success. Whether you want us to produce a new or favorite pattern, or rediscover a color discontinued by another manufacturer, or if you just have a unique idea you want to try, you can rely on Brian’s eye to nail the color for you. For all our customers and friends, we deeply thank you for the opportunity to do what we love. As my friends at iBass360 say- Live The Passion!