Interview with a Nittany Lion Custom Bait Maker

DockTalk365 Pennsylvania, Tackle Box

nate-l-01It might be fitting that I just finished watching Penn State beat Minnesota (Sorry Gopher fans) in overtime right before drafting this interview with PSU fishing team member Nate Lieb. Nate is not only a PSU fisherman, he also makes his own custom baits. I took some time to interview Nate about his baits as well as his collegiate fishing. Here is what he had to say.

What got you started into making custom baits?

I started making my own lures after being continually disappointed by the low quality materials being used in many commercial lures.  I wanted to ensure that the materials I was using, hooks, skirts, paint, etc., were of high quality and reliable.  I also realized the benefits of a hand tied jig skirt, as opposed to a standard rubber band, after using one a friend had tied for me.  Typically, hand tied skirts are much more durable and have much more volume and movement in the water.

After posting a few pictures on Instagram I started to receive some interest.  Eventually one thing lead to another and here I am today.  At the beginning, only a few months ago, I never intended to start my own website or sell my own products.

nate-l-03What products do you currently offer?

I currently offer three jigs in several color patterns.  The first is a 3/8 oz. Arkie Head jig in 10 different patterns ranging from vibrant colors like fire-tiger to more natural colors like copper and pearl.  I typically use Arkie Head jigs as an all around style bait.  They are a widely applicable bait that can be swam, pitched and skipped.

I also offer a 1/2 oz. standup head jig in the same 10 color patterns as the Arkie Head jig.  The standup head is a great jig for fishing around structure and grass.  This style lure was my “bread-and-butter” when fishing around lily pads this past summer.

Lastly, my newest product, the Hybrid Skirt jig, is something I haven’t seen on the market.  This is a finesse style jig that I designed for clear or highly pressured waters.  I use a 1/4 oz. Arkie head jig and begin by tying buck-tail hair around the center.  After this, I tie a silicone skirt around the outside of the hair.  This combination gives the Hybrid Skirt jig the natural appearance of buck-tail hair with the movement and action of a silicone skirt.

What products are you working on that will be available in the next year?

I am currently in the process of adding several more lures to my website over the next few months.  These range from underspins to chatterbaits to a various other jigs.  I plan to release them on my site after they are thoroughly tested and refined to ensure they are effective lures.  The last thing I want is to sell a lure that under performs.  I also intend to sell various merchandise such stickers, hats, t-shirts etc. in the future.

nate-l-04You are a member of the Penn State bass fishing team. What has the experience been like being part of a College fishing team?

I joined the Penn State club my freshman year of college.  Before discovering it through a friend, I had no idea a bass fishing team even existed at Penn State.  I’ve had a lot of opportunities to fish new waters and learn first hand from some of the best fisherman around.  I would encourage any College fisherman to give their school team a shot.  If there is no College team at your University, start one.

What waters do you consider your home waters?

I grew up North of Pittsburgh and spent most of my life fishing small lakes and rivers around the area.  I would consider The Beaver and Ohio Rivers to be my “home waters” although I do not live in the area anymore.  Since then I’ve lived in Port Clinton, Ohio where I fished the Western Basin of Lake Erie and Akron, Ohio where I fished the Portage Lakes chain.

What new waters have you had a chance to fish through being part of the PSU fishing team?

Through the club I have had the opportunity to fish some of the best fisheries in the United States.  Lake Champlain was my favorite waterway to fish both for the scenery as well as the fishing.  It is one of the few lakes that supports equally large numbers of big smallmouth and largemouth bass.  The northern pike populations are also thriving in the lake.  Other notable fisheries I have been to include the Susquehanna River, Potomac River, Mosquito Reservoir and the Mohawk River.

What’s your kayak rig that you are fishing out of?  What’s your review of that kayak for fishing?

At the beginning of this past summer I bought a Field and Stream Shadow Caster fishing kayak.  I found it to be a great kayak for the money.  I was able to stand and fish from it with ease and could even put an aerated cooler in the back as a makeshift live well.  The only downside to the Shadow Caster is that it is rather heavy, 95 lbs.

Lastly, I saw you fishing an Alabama rig in one of your photos. This isn’t usually thought of as a northeast rig. What is your opinion on using this rig for fishing in the Northeast?

The Alabama rig is used to mimic a school of baitfish.  It can be an extremely effective way to entice otherwise inactive fish into biting.  Although the Alabama rig most popular down south, I believe it can be effective anywhere baitfish school, essentially every fishery.

I will definitely be following the fishing and business career of Nate. Love seeing an entrepreneur combine his passion with his products. You can follow Nate and find out more about his baits at his website or on Instagram.

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