Natchez man makes hand-crafted fishing lures for friends

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 10, 2016

NATCHEZ — Trae Ladner was tired of the standard fishing lures he buys at retail stores, so he became a night owl.

These days, Ladner stays up well past midnight in his garage creating, from scratch, his own soft, plastic lures.

Ladner said making his own lures started as a hobby. He started making his own baits and lures because he had a passion for fishing. Then his friends began to ask if he would make for them as well.

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“All the guys in the clubs that I fish in and my family members said how good (the lures) looked, and that if I made some more, they would appreciate it,” Ladner said.

Ladner said his friends and family have helped him spread the word about his hobby, which has now turned into a side business.

Ladner said he’s sent lures to friends, and friends of friends “all over Louisiana.”

“People contact me placing orders,” Ladner said.

Ladner said that fishermen who use his lures have told him they get more bites using his hand-crafted lures, and Ladner credits that to his process.

Ladner adds salt to the core of his baits, and will sometimes add scents so that it stimulates the fish’s senses when they bit the rig, he said.

“It has salt impregnated in it, so if the fish tastes the salt, it can decide it wants to come back if it likes the flavor, I guess,” Ladner said.

Ladner said the hardest part of the process of molding a lure is getting the coloring precise, as the uniqueness of the dye can draw more bites.

Ladner varies the colors of his bait, often trying to go with a unique approach. A fan favorite has been his blue pearl bait.

“The only reason I started (making my own lures) was because I wanted to make my own colors,” Ladner said. “Naturally, if you throw something out there that (fish) haven’t seen before, it will get their attention.”

Ladner said he prefers to make soft-plastic lures because he wants the texture to be more consistent with live bait.

Ladner said once he impregnated the plastic with the bait, he heats the plastic until it retains a gel-like consistency.

He adds metalic flakes to gel and then scents — crawfish or garlic — and then he pours the liquid plastic into the mold. After about a minute, Ladner removes the bait from the mold.

Then the waiting begins. Ladner lets his molded lures sit for 24 hours after he removes the bait from the mold.

“I’m very impatient when it comes to letting something that looks so good just sit there,” Ladner said.

Ladner said the volume of orders he gets now are even more than he can handle, but said he has received a lot of support from family to continue his craft.

“I guess you can say it blew my mind when people started asking me to make baits for them,” Ladner said. “I love my job with AT&T but my passion is for the outdoors.”