How We Make Soft Plastics at Missile Baits
By John Crews
Being a professional bass angler since late 2000, I have worked with many companies to help promote and fish with their baits. Before I started Missile Baits in 2012, I fished without a soft plastics sponsor for 2 years. I fished with everything. I found some baits were pretty good and I found out a bunch of baits were not good at all. Soft plastics were all over the board. The bottom line is that I did not have all the soft plastics that I wanted to fish with on the professional bass trail. I planned and started my very own lure company, Missile Baits.
Every single bait that we make at Missile Baits is drawn out on paper with dimensions and sent to a mold maker. Initially we used one in Alabama but they became difficult to get responses from in a timely fashion even though they did great work. For the last few years, we use a company out west and they are great. I send them very detailed drawings and they transfer that into a computer program to cut a mold. The mold they start with is a small single shot version. We then shoot singles to make sure the lure is what I want. Sometimes we nail it on the first shot. Sometimes it takes a few versions to get it right. Once approved, the mold maker produces a large aluminum mold that can produce 20-60 baits at a time.
The production molds are sent to our manufacturer. We use a company based in Georgia that is family owned and has been in soft plastic manufacturing for over 30 years. They really know what they are doing. I work with them to tell them exactly how we want each bait made. We have to be very specific on salt content, amount of filler, hardness, color, flakes, and laminates. Once we get it all right, they keep track of the formula and apply that each time they make our baits. Missile has the bags and boxes made, sent to the manufacturer, and they return our purchase orders exactly how we design.
Our boxes and bags are designed to be stored for long periods of time without problems. Our Missile Baits warehouse is temperature controlled. Our boxes are stored flat and the individual bags are placed by 6 into inner bags. Those inner bags fit into our Missile Baits boxes like a filing cabinet. They can be stored like this in our warehouse for years and look just like they did when we got them. Luckily, we don’t have many baits sit around our warehouse very long!
You can see that the soft plastic designs I create are born from necessity. If there is a good bait out there, I just use that. For years, I just used Yamamoto Senko’s because I did not have a need to make something in that category. However, I started nail weighting the rear of a Senko a few years ago. They are hard to get the nail weight into the bait and the bait still be straight. Here comes The 48. I created a 4.8” weighted stick bait with way different proportions but still has the same density as the Senko. It is very easy to nail weight a 48 as well as a few other techniques. There are soft plastics that I use out there like a Zoom Super Fluke and BassTrix swim bait because I don’t see a need to improve the design or another need to fill.
Missile Baits is owned by me. Currently I have designed every single soft plastic bait we make. I take input and feedback from our pro staff and Bomb Squad. I have looked at a number of soft plastic designs people have shown me that they want to get to market. I have tried to help connect them with who I think might want to use their design. We make all of our molds and our baits in the USA. That is important to me. I have lots of pride in this country plus the lead time for manufacturing is shorter than overseas.
From start to finish, Missile Baits are bass fishing lures born on the needs of a professional bass angler- me! I figure that if I need it, there will be plenty of other bass anglers out there that will benefit from an innovative soft plastics design. That is how we make soft plastic bass fishing lures.