By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
---- — Long time Fayette County resident, Phil Hunt turned a hobby into a profession and now a successful business. Hunt is the principal owner of PH Custom Lures, a company he began in his garage and one that nine years later, is growing by leaps and bounds.
An avid fisherman and hunter his entire life, Hunt embarked on a pro-fishing career. As he put it, even though he had a great deal of success traveling and fishing throughout the country, the lures he bought and used were much the same that others were using.
During 2005, Hunt searched for different colored baits than those he and others frequently used.
“At the time, I was sending baits out to be repainted when I realized that I could get an air brush and paint my own. I wanted different colored baits that others didn’t have. A short time later, one of my buddies, pro fisherman Billy Lowen was over at my house and he said let’s make a balsa lure, a square bill bait, that’s where I guess it really began where I thought that I could do this and be successful at it,” Hunt said.
Hunt did a lot of research on how to make a fishing lure and a number of trials and errors later, he came up with one that he liked and the Crazy Ace was born.
He said he had some help from Lowen along the way who started using the bait and showing it around and the rest, as they say, is history.
“In a relatively short frame of time, I went from repainting baits for others to making a few hundred to making a few thousand handmade baits a year,” Hunt said.
He continued by saying that by that time, his repainting business had grown and he was repainting nearly 3,000 lures a year for other fishermen.
The repainting side of the business alone, although successful and one that Hunt enjoyed, was soon to be just a starting point for bigger and better things and led to a career change.
Fishing and working on baits was a passion for Hunt even though it was still a part-time job for him. Years earlier, Hunt had obtained his paramedic certification and was working full-time in the medical field and as he put it, “fishing and making baits was something he did on the side.”
“In a short period of time, I went from making a few baits a year to making a few thousand. My business really began to take off a couple of years ago when the baits I was making started getting exposure in magazines, and on the internet and word of mouth and then I got my own website and the business really took off from there,” Hunt said.
According to Hunt, there are roughly 16 steps and it takes nearly two-weeks to transform a piece of wood into single bait. First is cutting and shaping the balsa wood followed by sanding, sealing and curing the bait between many of the phases due to the porous balsa wood. Weight placement is paramount as well as the bill placement and the various stages of painting.
“Each hand made crank bait I make is also hand tested. I hand tune each bait in the pool, to make sure it runs straight in an effort to make sure it works as promised,” Hunt said.
Hunt is now in the testing phase of a few new lines that are currently being used and tested by pro fishermen; deep bait, a flat bait and a wake bait.
As a result of the growth in his business, he now works full-time making baits and only part-time in the medical field he couldn’t be happier.
PH Custom Lures have been used in and won a number of professional competitions – something of which Hunt is very proud.
With growth, Hunt recently purchased a second business “Old School Baits” out of Florida. Currently, fishermen can find PH Custom Lures in a number of small shops throughout the state and area and online at phcustomlures.com.
Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.