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Tricked Out, Hand Crafted Stickbaits

by: Brad Wiegmann

Rainbow Trout, Tui Chub, and Kokanee Salmon

  Imagine dragging one of your favorite balsa wood stickbait out of your tackle box and giving it to a self confessed trophy fish hunter, Jake Bunio to trick out.  He would start by taking out the original bill and replacing it with a beefed up lip that could take some major abuse.  Next, he would change out the hooks and rings replacing them with extra strong hardware sturdy enough to land a trophy fish.  Finally, he would completely remove the generic finish and replace it with a highly realistic finish that imitated a Rainbow Trout, Tui Chub, or Kokanee Salmon. 

  The final lure would be tricked out but for Bunio it would still be missing some key components for the perfect stickbait.  Being hard-core about his stickbaits Bunio went straight into research and development on his own stickbait and ended up designing the Trophy Sticks.  Bunio’s tricked out Trophy Sticks ( or call 916-221-0126) are all hand crafted out of balsa wood, hand tuned and weighed, and have a custom painted finish.  For most lure companies that would be enough but remember I said Bunio is hard-core when it comes to his lures.  So the Trophy Sticks also comes with 3-D realistic eyes, protruding gills, extra thick diameter bill, extra thick glossy clear coat that’s resist scratching, Daiichi Xtra Strong hooks and rings, has a hydro dynamic shape, a unique weight balance system, and a custom paint finish with life-like scale pattern.  “Although one of the main reasons the Trophy Sticks catches trophy fish is its unique hunting action,” said Bunio. 

  Minnow plugs or stickbaits have been around since anglers began building their own lures.  Bunio explained 3 techniques for fishing stickbaits are, “First, cast it to cover or around structure and jerk the rod a couple times and slowly start reeling it in, every so often jerking the bait then continue to keep reeling slowing, keeping the bait about a foot under the surface of the lake, or anglers can cast it out and just very slowly reel it in, or cast it out and twitch it on the surface of the lake like a injured bait; the second way is ripping where you are trolling with the gas engine, usually in 20-foot of water, allowing the bait to run about 7-foot deep and rhythmically ripping or pulling the rod tip quickly forward; Third, trolling where anglers keep the boat moving with the outboard engine and the rods can be held or put in holders.”

  When casting or trolling Bunio likes to use between 12 to 20-pound fluorocarbon fishing line depending on water clarity and the desired depth; although, he will use 30-pound braid when ripping or 65-pound braid when fishing for trophy fish.

  A tricked out hand crafted, balsa wood Trophy Stick would not be complete without a custom paint finish.  Trophy Sticks come in 3 color patterns and 3 different sizes that imitate favorite baitfish for Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted Bass, Striped Bass, White Bass, Hybrids, Brown Trout, Walleye, Mackinaw, and Steelheads just to name a few.  Tasty Tui color pattern imitates a Tui-chub or is sometimes call hitch.  Baby Bow bears a life-like resemblance to a rainbow trout pattern.  Silver Platter gives the impression of being a small Salmon, threadfin shad, or Blueback Herring.  Anglers can also expect some new color pattern coming out soon.

  There are 2 types of anglers, the one which buys ever lure in their tackle box and the other angler who has enough talent to create their own by hand.  The tricked out Trophy Stick allows anglers an opportunity to have a hand crafted, custom painted finished, premium balsa wood bait without having to take the time themselves to make it; unless they are as hard-core as Bunio.

Brad Wiegmann is a professional fishing guide on Beaver Lake and outdoor writer. Contact him at (479) 756-5279 or by e-mail at