70 per cent for the fish 30 per cent for the angler
Humans have fished and eaten what they catch for thousands of years. In the course of history, angling has become a very varied discipline. Alongside rod, reel and tackle, it is the choice of lure and skill of the angler that determine whether or not he gets a bite. These days, lures for catching predators such as perch, pike and walleye come in a range of shapes, colours and materials. And they are designed to lure not just fish, but anglers out window-shopping too.
Artificial fishing lures are certainly a niche product – unknown to anyone who does not catch predatory fish. As anyone who knows about design processes will tell you there is nothing in principle in the design of these fishing lures that is different to designing chairs. Only there are certainly more chair designers.
Hiroshi Takahashi and Hironori Kitade design lures for several international brands. How did this come about? Takahashi was himself an enthusiastic angler when he began to launch Japanese lures on the European market. His involvement led him to employment with the Japanese manufacturer, Lucky Craft. Having garnered experience in sales, he leaned increasingly towards product development. Hironori Kitade founded his own factory in 1998 and produced lures for Jackall. Seiji Kato, the chairman of Jackall, taught him how to design lures professionally. Since 2004, he has been producing them for his own brand, North Craft. He is also an experienced angler.
They both believe that it is not sufficient for lure designers to master 3D programmes, rather in order to design good lures it is vital to know about fishing methods. The first designs and mock-ups follow market research. At the same time requests from customers and new concepts for angling methods flow in. The mock-ups are tested for their movement behaviour and are refined by product design engineers until the movement is correct. Then the mould is produced and finally checked before it goes into mass production. Finally the colour of the lure is decided upon. This process involves both designers and engineers. As to why lures look the way they do, Kitade responds, “Fish cannot buy the lure and the angler does not bite at it. I think that the design and colour of the lure must both please the angler and fulfil its function.”
Even though lure design is a very specialised discipline, there are designers whose work does not revolve exclusively around lures. The portfolio of Pentagon Design, a Finnish studio, boasts products for kitchens, living and the office. The passion of one particular designer has ensured that a fishing lure is included. We put three questions to Sauli Suomela, the Design Director at Pentagon Design.
1. How did you happen to design a fishing lure? Do you fish yourself?
Our designer Tani Muhonen, who’s no longer working in our office, is a very enthusiastic fisherman and he had the basic idea of creating a new kind of lure with only one body piece and no separate diving lip. We were very interested in his idea and agreed to work together to develop the concept and sell the final product to some manufacturer.
2. What kind of knowledge and technology did you need and use to develop the lure?
What decision did you make concerning material, form and colour?
In addition to understanding the activity of fishing in general and fishing equipment in particular, we needed to think about possible production methods. Normally, lures are made out of balsawood in several stages. Many of them are also made by hand. We wanted to make our lure out of injection-moulded plastic, which offered many advantages for this kind of design. The lure is produced in two mirrored halves with joining features. The fixtures for the hooks and balancing weight needed to make the lure work are all on the inside. After fusing the two halves together, the lure has to pass through several more stages in which it is coated and decorated. Shiny surfaces and markings add the finishing touch to the new design.
3. Why does the lure have a hole?
We wanted to get rid of the separate diving lip in front of the lure, which affects the sinking and swimming properties. Many handmade models were needed to get the hydrodynamic form to work, and we also had a water tank for testing the swimming motion and sinking function. The “big mouth” hole in the lure body has the same effect as the diving lip. Now the water just goes through the mouth and body and creates the signature movement of the Big Mouth.