A business that is catching on: Kick Bass Lures offer local, hand-painted options

  • David Swan of Orange uses an air brush to custom paint fishing lures for his Kick Bass Lures business. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • David Swan of Orange uses an air brush to custom paint fishing lures for his Kick Bass Lures business. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • David Swan of Orange uses netting to mimic scales on his custom fishing lures for his Kick Bass Lures business. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Some of David Swan’s custom fishing lures for his Kick Bass Lures business. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/10/2017 10:40:27 PM

ORANGE — David Swan walked into Grrr Gear last summer, bought a fishing lure for $7 and then smashed it to the ground, breaking it into pieces. He then took a hand-painted lure he had made himself and spiked it like a football. The result: a minor chip on the fish’s lip.

Swan does not have an anger problem, he just wanted to show the owner of the Orange outfitter how superior his own handcrafted lures are.

Swan started his own business, Kick Bass Lures, last year and has taken a grass-roots approach to getting his products onto store shelves. His determination has paid off. Grrr Gear offered to carry 38 units following his demonstration, and Swan says another 13 vendors are interested.

“I love fishing. If I’m not working, if I’m not tinkering, if I’m not making lures, I’m fishing,” Swan says in his modest second-floor workshop in his home on Congress Street. “That is what I do. It’s what I love. I love to fish.”

Chris Noyes said Kick Bass Lures’ quality and Swan’s enthusiasm convinced her and husband Al to carry the products. Both said sales have been decent since the summer.

“I hope it works out for him,” Chris Noyes says. “It’s very labor-intensive, what he does.”

Al Noyes says it is difficult to find hand-painted lures nowadays.

An automotive mechanic by trade, Swan grew up painting cars and motorcycles with his grandfather, who also took him fishing every weekend. The two eventually started painting balsa wood lures for fun. Swan says business has been slow the past six months due to personal reasons and longer hours at jobs to pay the bills, but he says he plans to go full throttle in 2017.

Swan, 23, says he pours his own jig heads, using eco-friendly Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic. He also clear coats and paints all the lures, which feature a “KBL” handwritten with paint pen. He says he makes roughly 10 per night and hopes to regularly complete 50 to 70 every week. His products are lead-free, he says. Some hang from a string mounted on one of his workshop’s walls.

Kick Bass Lures range in price from $7.50 to $15, and Swan says he has already gotten a return on his initial $500 investment. He says he puts 30 percent of all profits back into the business.

Swan is meticulous about quality control, casting aside any lure with even the most miniscule imperfection. His hands, bearing the nicks and calluses of a working man, point out flaws a novice may miss or find insignificant — a chip here, a scratch there. One fell onto the dusty floor before its paint dried. Those ones, he says, he will keep for personal use only.

Most of his lures are imitation fish — rainbow trout, golden trout, small bass, golden shiners and minnows. He also crafts glow-in-the-dark lures.

“I am the only person in New England that makes a successful hard-bait, glow-in-the-dark lure,” he says, adding that other brands either don’t glow well or their glow is not long-lasting. Swan refuses to divulge his secret, but said the lures are nontoxic.

A wooden work table, lined with the tools of his trade, stands to the side in his workshop, with a piece of cardboard duct-taped on top of it. The nearly 40 bottles of paint pale in comparison to the 150 he once had before having to order more. He says he plans to soon add a bench to the shop.

Swan gets creative in his designs, using a sponge-like fibrous plant called loofah to paint fish scales and a wide-tooth comb to achieve ribs on an imitation perch. He says he’s been known to paint until 4 a.m, and this should bode well when he dives fully into the business.

“I can put my music on, forget the world and just paint,” he says.

Kick Bass Lures can be found on Facebook, where potential customers can message Swan.




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