Can I tell you how much I love custom and small bait companies? If you see my tackle boxes, you will see that I almost exclusively buy from small manufacturers, primarily in the Northeast.
I am in no way against the bigger companies. They have a very important role in the fishing industry and for the most part, deliver quality products to anglers. But what I love about the smaller bait makers is the passion for fishing that comes through when you talk about their baits. I also love their attention to detail. They need to know that every bait that gets shipped out is of the highest quality. They simply can’t afford to ship out baits that don’t meet their highest quality standards.
Loaded for Bass is one of these great companies. Based in Connecticut, these guys are putting out quality baits and have a deep rooted passion for fishing, inspiring the work they do. Read to learn more about their company as well as one of the best fishing stories, ever, at the end.
What is your role with the company and what was your background before doing this?
I am co-owner of Loaded For Bass, along with my partners, Frank Gregoire and Rich White. Before I took on this role, I was a logistics specialist for 30 years at an industry leading greeting card company. That came to an abrupt end when the owners announced in July of 2015 that they would be closing their Connecticut distribution center. Once that happened, it was definitely a life changing moment…
It makes you take inventory of just not the obvious things, but who you are as a person. It tests you in ways you could never imagine and with that, I wanted to take this low time in my life, this major change and somehow make a win out of it.
Things do happen for a reason, I’m a huge believer in that. But when you’re “in the moment” you don’t always see it until a period of time has passed. For me it has always been faith, family, fishing and I knew through faith things would happen for the better.
Fishing has been a passion all my life. Going out on the water has always been my escape. When I’m out there, I really can’t think about anything and when the job loss happened I found myself out there a lot. Deep down I always wanted to do something in the fishing industry. When I was younger I did a little taxidermy, made top water plugs and saltwater spoons with my dad, tied flies; he was the one who introduced me to this wonderful sport. We had the ole Starcraft 14ft with the 9.8 Mercury Thunderbolt. He passed away in 2007 but his spirit is very much alive in me and he’s with us on every fishing trip. His values, his work ethics and that passion for fishing had always been in my blood and now was the time to do something with all of that.
Frank and I have been friends a long time and being “fishing fanatics” he and Rich along with myself got talking and Bang! We launched Loaded For Bass Sudden IN-PACT Baits
Your jig trailers appear to be your feature product. You describe it as the Ultimate Pork Alternative. That is a big claim given all the trailer products on today’s market. What makes your trailer a top choice for anglers?
With the diminishing pork products that are now available, we wanted to have a product that would have all the benefits of pork but eliminate the shortfalls. We use a biodegradable fabric… fabric you say? Yep. Our material not only absorbs a lot of scent, but holds it unlike soft plastic. One of the issues with soft plastics is that when you spray them with scent, it flies off on the first cast and must be reapplied quite often as it gets washed off during the retrieves. The fabric holds the scent longer and allows the bait to leave continuous scent trials.
The material also allows the trailer to be very supple. When a fish grabs on, it’s a natural feel for them and they get a burst of scent. Durability was another area we addressed. The fabric is very strong so folks won’t have to worry about having a trailer tear off. Actually, we have saltwater charters fishing our Striper Viper and Pact Strips and going all day on a single bait catching blues, stripers, cod and haddock… Now that’s durability.
You also sell other baits like spinnerbaits but I didn’t see jigs. If I am correct that you don’t sell jigs, what are your favorite jigs to fish your trailers on?
At the present time we don’t sell jigs. The football jig is on the top of the list for being a favorite. Fishing deep water with gravel structure and having the jig sitting in that upright position and dragging it on the bottom with a trailer can be lights out. Swim Jigs are another favorite due to their versatility and the way they imitate shad is great when a subtle presentation is needed over a spinnerbait.
How would you describe the different conditions that anglers would specifically choose each of your main trailer styles, frog, craw and strip?
For pitchin’ and flipping in shallow water and during cold water conditions our Classic and Jumbo Frog shape is a proven choice. The Craws have been really producing in both shallow and deep water. The Pact-Strip and Striper Viper are great for the saltwater angler as they can use them the same way pork was being used. Also, we have musky and pike anglers that use them on spoons and bucktails. I use them on large spinnerbaits when I want a longer profile or if I’m slow rolling. Our Finesse Frog is one of our smaller trailers and it’s a great match for hair jigs.
I really like how you keep your colors relatively simple. How important do you feel color is in trailer selection?
I believe there are some proven basics we need to follow. Use darker colors in dirty or stained water to give a good silhouette and in clear water use more natural colors.
An interesting story, over the past year we went to local bass clubs and tournaments, handed out sample packs of our baits and asked what colors they preferred and why.
Blue, green, brown, black were all on the top of the list. But to our surprise, the overall result was “confidence in past performance.” It was clear that the importance of trailer color was in direct relation to the confidence each person had in that bait. What I mean by that is if you have confidence in throwing a blue jig with a red trailer, you’re going to fish that jig in a way that provides the best presentation possible. You’re going to be fishing methodical. You won’t change up as often. You’ll be more selective in the water you’re fishing and so on.
We had a few guys that said only throw blue on this particular lake but if you’re fishing the river make sure you’re throwing brown. I noticed that with myself. I throw our green pumpkin Crazy Gauge .250 spinnerbait with our red Finesse Frog trailer, crazy combo right? But it produces for me. I have that confidence to throw it on a regular basis. Just think back to those days when a buddy of yours…and yes it’s only funny when you’re the one catching…is hammering fish and you’re struggling. You start fumbling around, make two casts with a jig, put that pole down, grab another with a crankbait, make a few casts then put it down, grab a topwater, make two casts, put that down grab a rod with some soft plastic. You’re fishing fast, changing baits, changing colors all with no confidence. So with that, color plays a role, but “confidence in the colors” you’re throwing, wow, that can be a game changer.
You have some of your trailers in yellow. I have never used a yellow trailer. When do you find yellow most effective ?
The yellow trailer all came about when I buddy of ours had a white and yellow ChatterBait and asked us, you have anything in yellow? Frank and I looked at one another and said “Give us a day.” We got one in his hands, we saw the results and that’s all we needed. And if you’re wondering, yes, we all now have yellow and white ChatterBaits! Yellow seems to be most effective on sunny and what I call thin cloud bright days in clear water. It’s a great color to pair up with white jigs, spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits. A cool thing we offer on our website is that we have a Customized Bait Trailer section where folks can request specific colors, shapes and sizes… If you want a purple Frog we’ll make you one.
What products are on the horizon for the company?
As you mentioned, trailers are our featured product, and we will be expanding the lineup with new shapes and sizes, but we’re also working on actual baits. We have a “Scent Shad” and a “Juice Tube” that we are currently dialing in at this time. We’re really excited about that. Also, we have been working on expanding Trailer Fishing Techniques. What’s that, you ask? I think at times, the mindset of a trailer is, “it’s a trailer” it goes onto a lure; just an addition. One of my buddies rigged our CrenCraw with a jig head and the text messages came in with photos of him landing smallmouth… We thought, what if? Take our Split Tail and use a weed guard hook and fish it in the cover. Carolina rig our Classic Craw. Use a bullet weight with the Beaver Tail. The “What if” turned into be “Oh my gosh!” In the future we want to introduce these new ways to fish our trailers.
What have been your most proud moments being associated with the company?
Wow, that question hits a nerve in such a good way… so many things to be proud of and thankful for. The people I have met. People reaching out to us to learn more about our products and who we are, not only as a company, but as fishermen. But if I can, I would like to share this one story that brings it all together for me.
I was testing some frog trailers at this pond not far from my house. There were a few people scattered along the pond’s edge and this young kid, about 12, caught my eye across the way. He was fishing by himself, just working his way along… and before I knew it, I hear from behind, “Excuse me, sir… you wouldn’t happen to have a soft plastic worm I could buy off you? I lost my last one”
I said, “Ahh actually I don’t, I’m just testing some frog trailers, but if you want, I can rig a couple of these for you, just cast them out and hop them back… and you can have ‘em.”
His eyes popped out of his head “Sure!”
So, I got him all set up. He thanked me and continued to fish along the shore. A little bit of time went by and my testing was done… here I am, putting my rods in the back of my truck and when I look up, I see this kid running towards me across the gravel parking lot, rod in one hand, backpack half slung over his shoulder and a largemouth in the other hand. In pure excitement, he trips himself up, falls and slides on the gravel. Rod goes flying, backpack breaks open, drops the fish. He gets up quick, grabs the fish and rod, grabs this older used IPad that came out of his backpack and comes over to me… “Sir, can you unhook this and take a picture of me to show my friends? They don’t think I ever catch anything”
“You OK? You’re scraped up there.”
“Yeah, I’m OK… here, just tap the screen button on the top”
As I centered up the shot, not only did I see that young kid, but a flashback to myself… The smile on the face… the pride he expressed… “This is great! Thank you! Can you watch my stuff? I need to get this fish back into the water.” There on the gravel was his rod and reel with our frog on the end… and I quietly said to myself, “That kid is what this is all about…”
Stories like this are exactly why I love supporting companies just like Loaded for Bass. Thank you Jim for filling us in about your passion.
Please check out LoadedForBass.com. You can also learn more by visiting them on all their social media outlets.