Many individuals have taken their time in quarantine to explore a hobby that they’ve been wanting to try for a while, but never had the time to do. Outdoor activities and sports have obviously seen a massive increase in popularity due to the fact that outdoor spaces are safe for maintaining a distance between people. Of those activities, fishing has seen one of the largest increases in interest.
Like most new hobbies that individuals have taken on during the pandemic, many are beginners who don’t exactly know what they’re doing. Luckily, they finally have the time to properly learn, so they’re seeking guidance from the nation’s most experienced professionals. According to reports, fishing license sales have been increasing by 20% since the pandemic began. Fishing tackle, bait, and supply sales have also seen a major rise in distribution especially in areas of the nation where man-made bodies of water are prevalent.
Phantom Lures is a fishing bait, tackle, and supply company that has been around since 1996, so throughout the past two decades they’ve seen many trends within the industry. The company’s mainly known for their custom baits that they manufacture for fishers of all kinds, but especially beginners who may not know where to begin. Phantom Lure’s marketing manager, Jeff Esson, claims that the company is about so much more than just selling bait and tackle supplies, it’s about selling the experience of catching your dream fish, or as Phantom Lure’s likes to call it, a ghost fish.
“The quality and reliability of our baits is what really makes it stand out. We have an amazing customer base, and one of the widest varieties of colors on the market, so we’re able to work with our customers to find something that they specifically will love.”
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Esson about the history of Phantom Lures and how they became the popular fish and tackle supply company that they are today. “Since 1996, Phantom Lures has built a strong and loyal reputation in the fishing industry by making excellent, custom, quality baits that are used by weekend warriors, guides, and tournament anglers. Our tournament-winning lures produce actions that put trophy fish on your line, leaving you with great pictures and lifelong memories, which is what’s really most important.”
Initially, Phantom Lures didn’t see a major rise in popularity until they expanded their inventory to appeal to a wider market of fishers. “In 2006 Roger and Mark Neilson took interest in the custom and general baits that Phantom Lures sold, so they bought 50% of the company so that they could grow and expand.”
“In 2013 I started assisting with the marketing and website development and Phantom Lures also purchased another bait company previously known as Dakota Lures, who were mainly known for their Walley and Hard baits. The acquisition of this company and their past expertise on other baits allowed Phantom Lures to grow and develop into the huge fishing gear market it is today.”
Esson also discussed how once they acquired the Walley and Hard bait brand they really wanted to build up their marketing to reach a larger customer base. To achieve this, in 2016 they renovated the entire website, logo, and came up with the slogan “Believe In Ghosts,” to connect with the Phantom brand name, and also to reference the fish that one thinks they only hear about in camp stories, but Phantom’s bait’s can help catch. “It does not matter the species. There are ghosts of all forms and in all bodies of water. From 50+ inch Muskies, 35-inch Walleye, whatever you chase, do it with passion, intensity and confidence in the fact that no matter how many people call you crazy, you are not alone. We believe in ghost fish too.”
“It’s simple. Phantom Lures wants our customers to believe in ghosts, and not the kind that hide in your closet and try to scare you. Ghosts are the fish that you hear stories about at night around the campfire that seem too good to catch.”
When it comes to the pandemic, Phantom Lures has seen the understandable increase in consumer activity due to the amount of people at home wanting to get outside and try something new. Esson explained that all new first time fisher’s shouldn’t be intimidated by the multitude of bait options out there, and that’s why their customer service is such an integral part of their company; they aim to help educate anyone who’s willing to learn.
“For first-time fishers who are ready to break into the sport, we recommend bait that’s specific for the type of fishing they’re planning on doing. If you’re fishing from a dock compared to a boat, you’re likely going to need different kinds of bait. Generally speaking through our Boogey bait is our most popular, especially among beginners, because it’s a deep-diving bait that can get down to 20 feet, which is great for the upcoming summer season, as fish are attracted to the cooler waters that are deep below the surface.”
In total Phantom Lures offers seven kinds of Walleye bait that one could choose from, all with different perks, but all made with the best quality; Abyss, Banshee, Boogey, Dagger, VooDoo Shad, Tilly, and Budzo. Esson also claimed that their beginner customers who come back to Phantom always see an immediate increase in success because once they get into that “initial process of buying bait, lures, and fishing gear the more familiar they become with their specific fishing location/ habits.”
“Phantom Lures is unique, I believe we’re one of the few companies that has the little BB’s in our bait, which work to make a ‘doorbell’ like sound for fish and attract them to the bait.”
When it comes to the future of Phantom Lures, Esson claims the “past nine months have been a blessing in disguise because it allowed us to focus on marketing our baits to reach a wider market. Within the next year we’re hoping to build a greater social media presence and even get our products on Amazon so we can reach a wider audience of fishers.”
To check out some of Phantom Lures wide variety of products, click here.
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