There are a lot of custom bait makers now. They do so for a lot of reasons. Regardless of the reason, the biggest benefit is to the rest of us who now have a lot of choices of people who can customize a bait just the way we want it. John Rielly is one of those bait makers. John is from Vermont and we took a little bit of time to get to know about his bait company as well as his Vermont fishing. He finished as Angler of Year for his club, Central Vermont Bass Club, so the guy knows how to fish.
So what got you started in making your own baits?
I got starting making my baits for the sole reason to save $. With prices of plastic baits going crazy, I figured the cost of buying all my equipment would make up for it in the long run.
What is the most challenging part of making baits?
The most challenging part of making baits for me is matching colors that customers request. It takes some trial and error, but I have always ended up with a happy customer.
What baits are in your lineup?
I have a bunch of baits that I make. Senkos, flukes, a few different types of dropshot baits, a couple shaky worm styles, creature baits, swimbaits , tubebaits, a bunch of different types of bass jigs, jigheads, dropshot weights and bladebaits. And more to come.
How does someone buy some of your baits?
As of right now I don’t have an official website store, so for now people can go through my Instagram or my riellyscustombassbaits Facebook page. I would be glad to take orders, and they can pay through PayPal.
You are not only spending time making baits but also using them on the water with success. Where are your favorite places to fish in your area?
I really love to fish Lake Champlain. It has an amazing diversity of fish species and fishing opportunities. One day I can go out and catch 10-15 different species without even targeting them. I also enjoy fish a ton of local small ponds here in Vermont. Although I may not catch the numbers I do at Champlain, the chance at catching huge bass is much better.
You won AOY for 2016 for your club. What were the keys to success this season?
My AOY 2016 season keys to success was finding bass where I had never seen anyone else fishing. A lot of people strictly fish in areas that are obvious on either maps or places they know about from other anglers. I went out of my way and found a few very productive deep water spots on Champlain, 30-55 feet deep. When I found these spots,they had giant schools of smallmouth bass.
Throughout your tournament season, can you tell us about times on the water that you had to make a significant adjustment in the way you were fishing to find success?
Well I can honestly say that this year I didn’t have to adjust much. Plans came together pretty good . Although there were times I had to fish back up spots due too heavy waves and wind. It definitely pays off to have several options when you get ready for a tournament. Try not to be satisfied finding one pattern during prefishing.
Who are your sponsors?
Right now I have 2 sponsors, Fitzgerald Rods and Ardent Reels. First off, Fitzgerald Rods. They are amazing rods, super light , strong and sensitive. I used to be the angler that was satisfied with just going out and buying any rod or reel that was moderately priced and ended up having to replace those out at the end of every season. All that and the rods and reels were heavy, cheap and poorly made. There is a Fitzgerald rod made for any situation and every price point.
Ardent reels are another amazing product. The best reels I have ever owned. They are so smooth and cast farther then any reel I have used and I have used a ton. There prices are amazing as well. A $100 reel from then is equivalent to a $400 reel from most companies.
What are your goals for 2017? How do you follow up AOY in 2016?
My goal for 2017 would be to expand to larger fishing tours. I will be doing my club thing still, I am the president, but my focus will be on larger tournaments and learning some new water.
Thank you John for sharing with us. To follow John and his Rielly’s Custom Baits, check him out on Facebook and Instagram.