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Updated: Dec 14, 2018

iBass360 recently sat down with Zee Bait Co founder Hunter Grogan to discuss Hunter’s dream of starting a bass bait company.  Here’s a snippet of their discussion over a couple beers.

iBass360: Hey Hunter,what inspired you to start making and marketing your own lures?

Hunter: Zee Bait Co. was born out of a love of fishing over a lifetime. I have a background in design and I found a real enjoyment in mold making, designing products for fishing with my friends, and a real satisfaction in making baits that would last a lot longer than the one’s I paid a premium for on-line or at the tackle shop. I wanted to make bait that did not go to the trash or to the bottom of the lake so quickly.

iBass360: So how did you go about doing that?

Hunter: I saw a need in the market place for a simplistic bait that could be adapted to

multiple rigging applications. That became the focus of my designs. Then I combined some knowledge of materials with my passion for fishing and began designing baits that could be rigged an a multitude of ways. I believed this would be how Zee Bait Co. could differentiate itself by the other soft plastic companies in the market place. I truly believe anglers would not need to have massive tackle boxes if they had a few good baits that could be rigged in 20+ different ways.  Beyond my designs, I knew I needed to focus on the quality of material and produced affordable baits for anglers who almost always prefer to buy 100% in USA made.

iBass360: Do think your designs are best applied 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 you?

Hunter: I like to think I take a wholeistic approach to designing baits. Yes, they are primarily for bass fishing, but here in southeastern Pennsylvania we have a wide variety if local waters that present a lot of different situations to the angler. The lower

Susquehanna River/Upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, northern bass factories like Oneida, Ontario, Erie, Cayuga, river systems like the Delaware, Potomac and James as well as local lakes in the Poconos and throughout New Jersey all present great situations to challenge our bait designing skills for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

iBass360: So bass are your passion?

Hunter: Definitely but this doesn’t mean that our products don’t work for Muskie, Northern, Crappie, Perch, Stripers and more. We stick to what we know best from the time we first started selling products to today. For 2018 we do plan to expand 2 of our products into the Inshore fishing scene with new colors for these saltwater species.

iBass360: Once you decided to market your products, how did you go about promoting your business and spreading the word?

Hunter: Spreading the word about our products is done primarily via social media. We

use Instagram (@zeebaitco) heavily. I have found that a picture really does say 1000 words, and anglers know that! The first thing I ask my friends after a fishing trip is “Can I see your pictures?” This becomes my best source of spreading the good word of our catching ability. Another way we promote Zee Bait is simply by word of mouth from angler to angler. We have a select groups of anglers we call “Pro Team” and “Field Staff”. These anglers are selected based on their use of our product line. Anglers who use our products are the ones who know them the best and can promote their love of our products and the sport in general.

iBass360: How do you decide what to keep on the market and what to take off the market?

Hunter: Well, I can’t have pride of design. I have to look first at the sales for the year. Fishing takes time and unfortunately, it does take time for anglers to get out there and use our products. So we do need to be patient. We all have baits that have been in the back of the tackle box, waiting for the right time and situation. Then, the stars align and

you grab that product and land a monster! So we try to give the process at least a year. We have already retired a few colors, but I have a plan to bring them back as retro colors for those anglers who did like them or anglers who have discovered our lures but are looking for a specific color.

iBass360: How did you go about deciding what materials to use to optimize your bait performance?

Hunter: When starting Zee Bait Co. material quality was our first concern. I knew materials were critical even before focus on unique designs. We tested various plastic blends for nearly 8 months before narrowing in on one we really liked. We wanted a plastic that was first and foremost eco-friendly. We have to make sure we as fishermen are focused on the sustainability of our favorite fisheries. The plastic we use contains no phthalates (PVC, BPA or other toxic plasticizers) which are common in lower quality plastics. Second, I was really zeroed in on durability. We did not want to be a One-Fish-Wonder. I think the right duration is to have a 4-6 fish average per bait. Third was making sure we had fish attracting powers- that means smell and motion flexibility. Many anglers have mentioned to us that Zee Bait Co. soft plastics have “self-healing powers”. This is how we knew had the right material.