BAGLEY- A GREAT HERITAGE RESTORED
Every fisherman has their favorite lure. But few bait companies have the loyal nostalgic following enjoyed by the Bagley Baits- The Bagley Bait Company. The Bagley story began in 1951 when Jim Bagley of Winter Haven, Florida, a master electrician by trade, bought a “Pork Rind” bait company that hadn't manufactured any products for two years prior to him purchasing it. Jim continued to work his day job, but late at night he relentlessly pursued making lures. As his passion consumed him, he quit his job to devote all his time to the Bagley Bait Company. The business struggled and Jim actually considered shutting down, but his first big break came from a 1955 Field and Stream magazine article titled “The New Black Magic” showcasing Jim Bagley’s “Black Magic Eel Pork Rind”. From that point on, Bagley claimed a healthy back log of orders.
Bagley, was an “inventive, fun-loving, passionate fisherman who became one of the most respected legends in the fishing tackle industry. He was obsessed with making the highest quality lures on the market and it showed in the product he produced. He was fascinated when lure making turned to balsa wood technology, and he focused his efforts on creating balsa lures
because he felt it had the best action in the water of any hard baits. Bagley brought their first balsa lure to market in 1960, and it didn’t take long to establish a following on the emerging bass tours of the southeastern USA. The Bang O Lure stick bait and Diver B and Balsa B crank baits, had a unique composition that gave them a distinct, lively action in the water. They could also take a pounding, known as heavy duty lures for heavy duty largemouth bass. The Bang O Lure was a huge success, and was adopted by professional anglers who used it to anchor four Bassmaster Classic wins.
Tournament success earned early endorsements from anglers like Bill Dance and Roland Martin, and those endorsements meant Bagley became the bait every serious bass fisherman had to have in the 60s and 70s. But as often happened in sole proprietor businesses, the time came for the Bagley family to sell the business, and in In 1988, Jim sold the homegrown fishing lure segment of his company to then company President Bill Stuart. Bagley remained in the fishing industry promoting and selling his “Silver Thread” brand fishing line until 1992. Unfortunately without the founder's passion and creativity, over the next 30 years the Company lost much of its former luster and standards for quality as many of Jim Bagley’s original designs were tweaked and distorted. Having lost its way and with soaring production cost in the late '90's the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Unable to reorganize successfully, in late1998, the federal government foreclosed on the company.
This is often where the story would end. But In 2010 another man with a passion for balsa wood
lures, Jarmo Rapala- of the famous Rapala family but no longer associated with the mega-brand-,became intrigued by the Bagley story and heritage and bought what was left of Bagley. Rapala set his sights on returning the brand to the standards in keeping with Jim Bagley’s original vision. He focused on enhanced production processes, quality control and product innovation resulting in the introduction of over 200 new products. With new products launching every year and a whole new generation of anglers learning the benefits of balsa for their crankbait fishing, the Bagley Bait Company is again a company with a bright future.