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Written by Matt Pangrac   
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 19:47
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Manufacturer Profile: Davis Baits
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“I always get a special feeling when I catch a bass on something that I’ve made. If we can put a smile on someone’s face because they catch a bass on one of our lures, I think that we are very successful.” - William Davis

The story behind the origins of Davis Bait Company really isn’t that unique when compared to those of other small tackle companies. A local tournament angler starts creating custom baits out of his garage, beats up on the local competition for a few years, and then starts selling his wares to buddies who are tired of getting beat every weekend on the water.

From coast to coast, there are hundreds of one-man lure making operations headquartered from a workbench next to the lawnmower, weed eater, and last year’s Christmas decorations. Many of these solo lure artisans have a small but dedicated following of local anglers who swear by the product, similar to groupies for a local rock band that never quite hit it big.

That’s where the story of William Davis and Davis Bait Company diverges from the path most often traveled by small lure companies. Over the past 28 years, Davis has been able to turn his lure company in East Central Alabama from a local legend into a nationwide success.

The Starting Spot
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, William Davis was working full-time at a paper mill during the week and turning some heads on the Central Alabama tournament circuits on the weekends. Fishing primarily for spotted bass on the famed Coosa River chain, Davis and his partner were unsatisfied with the quality of the lures and hooks they were using.

“I couldn’t find a tackle company that was using premium hooks and components on all their baits,” Davis remembered. Frustrated at the lack of quality available in the lure market, he partnered with a

friend who had some machinery and started producing spinnerbaits and custom jig heads that met his standards.

It was during this stretch where Davis tweaked and perfected what he considers today as his trademark product – the Shaky Worm Head. “We started out using oversized crappie jigs with a grub and one day we ran out of grubs so we put a straight tail worm on the jig head and started getting more bites,” said Davis. “I spent a lot of time at the drawing board trying to create a bigger and longer hook to use in a lighter jig head.”

Though the process took several years, Davis, who was manufacturing his baits one at a time in his Alabama garage, finally settled on a hook that was sharp enough to be fished effectively on light line. “For the next few years we never told anybody how we were catching our fish,” he explained.

Davis also began building heavy spinnerbaits featuring a hook that flexed at the head to reduce torque and increase his strike-to-land ratio. The lure was aptly called the “Flexx Spinnerbait.” While several lure companies currently offer a hinged or movable hook, Davis was the first one to actualize the concept.

Word slowly started getting out that Davis and his tournament partner were winning tournaments on baits that he was making in his garage. That’s when Davis’ phone started ringing. “People were calling me every weekend and just wearing me down to make them some baits,” he laughed. “I can remember thinking, ‘Well, at least I may be able to cover some of my fishing expenses by selling lures.’”

His answering machine wasn’t the only thing that was full. After designing, pouring, finishing, and packing each individual lure from his garage for three years, Davis started running out of room. “It got to the point where you couldn’t even walk through my garage,” he said. It was time to move.

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 February 2011 20:38

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