Franglais Fishing stock the best of the Castaic Pike rangeThe Castaic Story
What do you get when you combine a fast growing strain of largemouth bass, hatchery-stocked rainbow trout, intense fishing pressure and a tackle box full of baits that the bass ignore?
The answer is Castaic Swim Baits!
It was not unheard of for a dozen boats to be waiting in line to fish a given piece of structure. Thanks to a steady diet of rainbow trout, the Florida strain bass that were stocked in several California reservoirs had grown to over 20 lbs! Waiting for a chance to hook into one of these hogs was worth it. But, having seen every bait known to man and with gin clear water, these bass were difficult to fool.
The breakthrough came on a reservoir named “Castaic,” when a local artist created a rainbow trout look-alike and swim-alike that got the big bass’ attention. Soon, a small group of local anglers began carving their own wood baits to mimic the rainbow trout. Among these men were Ken Huddleston and Chomp Josephite, a couple of die hard bass anglers with big dreams of record-breaking bass. Their goal was to create baits that were more realistic than the giant A.C. Plug, a lure that during the early 1990s accounted for many huge bass.
Some of Huddleston’s early baits were immediately noticed by local anglers, who offered big sums of money on the spot. Huddleston sold one of his first baits for $85. The intent was not to sell the baits; they wanted to catch big bass with them. But after one of these early baits went for $150, the Castaic Lure Company was born.
Soon after, to meet demand for the new lures, designer Jason Scott was hired. Scott, a talented angler and designer in his own right, immediately began contributing new ideas to what eventually became Castaic Softbaits. The first bait introduced under the Softbait line was a hard-headed, soft tail hybrid lure, the Castaic Original Sunfish.
During a trip to Texas’ famed Lake Fork, Scott’s father, Bob, proved to locals the effectiveness of this new lure outside the realm of California’s deep, clear reservoirs. Despite miserable conditions, the elder Scott boated numerous big bass, including a ten-pound plus giant. Word spread. Sales followed.
More new baits came to fruition, including the Castaic Original Trout, Baby Sunfish, Baby Crappie, Gizzard and Threadfin Shad. Each and every new lure caught fish and sold like wildfire. Eventually the Castaic Sunfish was named among Field & Stream’s Top 50 Fishing Lures of All-Time. This historic bait also graced the cover of Field & Stream twice— the March 1998 issue, and again on the May 2000, 50th Anniversary issue.
More innovations followed, building on what had already become the most potent line of swimbaits on the market.
Along the way, legendary fisherman from all corners of the world began to notice Castaic. European Pike fishermen are every bit as serious in their quest for monster pike as big bass hunters in America. Soon, giant pike that were thought to have only existed decades ago, if ever, started to be caught in places like the Baltic Sea. At first, word of which lures these monstrous pike were caught on was kept secret, but like most things in fishing, eventually the word got out. Pike in excess of 50 pounds have been caught on Castaic Swimbaits and 40 pounders are very common. For example, it has been accurately estimated that more than 50% of the top 20 pike EVER caught in Germany have been captured on Castaic lures. With literally hundreds of big lure manufacturers, this kind of dominance is astounding and unprecedented in the world of fishing.
The groundbreaking Rock Hard Swimbait was a direct result of the friendship between Scott and Long. Scott would tweak a feature here and there. Long would take the lure out and catch another huge bass, then suggest changes. Eventually, the lure was perfected, offering anglers the most authentic look and swimming action ever seen in a fishing lure.
Today, you can obtain your own collection of Castaic Swimbaits. Just like those originals, each and every lure is still hand painted, and crafted to look and swim like a real fish. Unlike the fish, you won’t believe your eyes!