Finding 'acorns' at the Bassmaster Classic expo

Posted: April 16, 2017 at 2:16 a.m.

One of my favorite parts of the Bassmaster Classic is the Outdoors Expo, where you can see the latest in fishing tackle, boats, motors and apparel.

I always spend a few hours cruising the expo searching for interesting products and innovations. Usually, small entrepreneurs have small booths tucked into the nether corners of the cavernous venues.

We found a few cool nooks a few weeks ago at the Houston Classic Expo, including one called JigSkinz. They are proprietary wraps that rejuvenate old, worn-out lures or give different looks to contemporary lures.

The colors are vibrant and 3-D, and the eyes are bright and lifelike.

Here's how it works. Insert and align your lure into a JigSkinz sleeve, and dip it in a pan of hot water. It only takes a couple of seconds. The sleeve immediately molds to every contour of the lure and creates a durable finish that is virtually scratch-proof. It works with jointed and one-piece lures.

JigSkinz are available in many finishes, including brown trout, stocker rainbow trout, bluegill, sunfish, redbreast (longear sunfish) and largemouth bass, as well as multiple saltwater applications.

If you want to apply a different skin, simply cut the old skin with a knife and peel it off the lure.

For more information, visit jigskinz.com.

Another interesting product we found is the Tauten Line Welder.

It eliminates fishing knots by way of a proprietary welding process that originated in the surgical industry. You can use it to attach lures to line or to splice monofilament or fluorocarbon line to braided line.

To attach a lure, loop your line through the lure eyelet or split ring and thread the line over a tab in a hand-held heating unit. The unit contains a battery-powered heating element and a polymer resin. Close the lid over the line and activate the unit with a push of a button. When the light on the unit stops blinking, open the lid to find the lure or line splice held tight within a supple joint.

It looks weird, a little too weird for traditionalists, but the folks at Tauten said the joint actually improves the actions of crankbaits, jerkbaits and swimbaits. That's because a Tauten weld is symmetric and linear, as opposed to knots which are asymmetric and cause turbulence which compromises action.

So they say.

The main advantage, according to Tauten, is that it eliminates weak spots inherent to knots, and that it maintains line strength under test.

For more information, visit tautensports.com.

We were happy to meet Steve and Becky Miller, owners of Do-It Molds. They sell molds and kits that allow you to build your own jigs and soft plastic lures, and customize them with an endless array of colors and finishes.

"The bass fishing world is on fire with people creating their own soft plastics," Steve Miller said. "Pros have to have it to build plastics that nobody else has."

The products and processes are user-friendly, Miller said. Heat the proprietary plastisol in a microwave to 350 degrees, pour it into an injector and squirt it into a mold. You can also use dual injectors to make two-tone lures or to add glitter.

"We have molds for crawdad imitators and frogs and every other possible fishing application," Miller said. "Color them any way you want. The sky is the limit."

The plastics are recyclable, so you can reuse them.

A wide selection of molds is available to make jig heads and spinnerbait heads.

For more information, visit store.do-itmolds.com.

To our great delight and surprise, we also found Bagley Lures at the Houston Classic Expo.

We love old Bagley balsa crankbaits, and we rued their departure from the fishing world in the early 1990s. Rick Clunn was a big Bagley man in those days, and since we were huge Clunn admirers, we believed in them, too. We have an ancient silver glitter DB-3 that has caught so many big bass that we have gone diving to free it from snags.

Bagley reorganized in 2010 and got serious in 2014. We found a wide selection of crankbaits in Houston that are made, they tell us, to original specs. We invested modestly in all sorts of DBs and Kill'r Bs, and we're eager to use them.

Did we mention a major retailer's big Daiwa blowout at the expo? Tatula baitcasters for $60, and Fuego baitcasters for $50, plus similar discounts on new Quantum Smoke baitcasters and Abu Garcia Revos. The entire stock was gone in a day.

Thank goodness we got there when we did.

Sports on 04/16/2017