Nearly eight or nine years ago a good friend of mine Bob King mailed me something that he thought I should have. After opening the package I pulled out a pair of little molds. I wasn't sure what to make of them at first so I called him and asked him what they were exactly. He went on to explain that they were the first prototype molds that he created to develop the patented Stanley Wedge Tail. Right away I thought about the controversy of this design and how much drama had surrounded it. Having these in my hands felt a bit like holding onto both a piece of history and also a smoking gun for some strange reason. Bob went on to tell me that he wanted me to have them because there was too much negativity around them. I empathized with him and knew the struggle he'd had around this topic and thanked him for them.
For those not in the know this design has been a hot topic for ages in the big bait world. Lonnie Stanley of Stanley baits and Ken Huddleston were stuck in court for years fighting over patent infringement. Stanley was issued a utility patent and tried to defend it to no end. Ken Huddleston the founder of Castaic Lure Company and Huddleston Baits had designed a bigger trout version utilizing a similar tail design. While it looked a little different it appeared to achieve the same result, left to right action. Allegedly both parties had spent well over $300k each in court. After years of court battles they finally decided to settle their case. Allegedly one would take the saltwater plastic world and one would take the freshwater world.
More on the bait design.. Bob told me he accidentally created the design by hot dipping the tail of a shad bait he was working on a bit too much. Interested in what it would do he took it to a bridge and dropped it down. As he watched it sink in the water the tail was kicking left and right as opposed to twisting and winding up like a paddle tail. Excited about this design he remolded this bait and started making little shad baits and bluegill baits to test. He went on using them and caught fish of various size in Canyon Lake in Arizona where he lived at the time. Happy with the design he sent them to Lonnie Stanley to see if he could use them. They filed a patent and Bob's name adorned it as the creator.
Bob is hands down one of the most talented bait designers I've come across. He is constantly challenging himself to be original and inventive. We have worked on a few bait designs that are still unreleased, but he has worked for and designed baits for the likes of Luhr Jensen, Castaic Baits, Black Dog Baits, and a slew of other companies that are in the industry. He deserves a lot of credit in the field of big bass fishing. Without him I'm not so sure we would have seen so many giant catches in the big bait world.
Ken Huddleston is also a very talented bait designer who has arguably put more big bait bass in peoples hands than anyone in the last 20 years in the big bait scene. His California roots and relationships with some of the best big bait fishermen has helped him become a real legend in the sport.