Taken from New Zealand Fishing News - March 1992 - by Bob South
Leading international big game lure maker Peter Pakula claims developments in the industry have plateaued.
The 38 year old Australian manufacturer of world famous ~Pakula lures toured New Zealand for the second time last December, this time hitting eleven towns around the North Island. He gave a series of informative seminars and lectures, advising of the newest techniques in game fishing, lure design, and lure presentation. And, while here, he intimated to Fishing News that "no new trends or fashions are evident in lure manufacture".
"We've gone through a stage over the past five years of competition and moves among manufacturers to cut each other's throats, there's a total lack of development other than some minor refinements. Most of the time only serious copying is all that is going on. The refinements that are taking place are in slight angle changes in the heads, subtle colour and shape changes to the skirts, and things such as better quality and resins". Pakula, who sells 25 % of his, game lures in New Zealand, has climbed to be among the world's best lure makers in just a short time.
Six years ago, the slightly built mad keen fisho was in the competitive Australian rag trade, specialising in fashion designing. By day he'd push clothes, by night he'd make enough game lures to stock two local tackle shops who welcomed his wares.
In the process of this hectic life - into which was tossed copious lots of fishing, Pakula developed insomnia. His doctor advised him he needed more, not less sleep, so Pakula slipped the rag trade for good and became a full-time lure maker.
Today, in a business that extends to 18 countries, he singularly styles and hand polishes 8,000 lures annually, providing him with a lifestyle that includes fishing the world for no fewer than 150 days a year, usually testing his own lures. "I'm not getting rich, but I'm having a great time he jokes. "You only live once..........if you're lucky!!"
When he first fiddled with lure making, Pakula, like most others was into the manufacture of soft-headed lures only. Experts more respected than be, claimed then that marlin could not he caught on hard heads, but when one of his first retail buyers insisted on hard heads, who was Pakula to argue? His business boomed when he willingly made the simple transition.
From the outset, Pakula has attempted to design lures after those he first watched working behind boats as a youngster. Now a veteran of more than 400 marlin catches - his first was 87 kg on 15 kg as a 14 year old - Pakula remembers his early fishing days spent on the stern of many boats.
"I used to he the bunny out the back on the deck untangling lines all the time", he says. "I always got seasick inside the cabin of boats. Still do for that matter. So I stayed put out back. It was at the stage when only two types of lures were available on the market - the ones which never got tangled but never caught fish either, and the ones that caught fish but always crossed over other lines.
"When I made my first lures, and even now, I basically tried to combine the best of both those lures by getting my lures to stay in the water, not tangle, yet still have the essential erratic action".
Following 400 to 500 prototypes over five years, Pakula eventually came up with the correct shape and angles. His lures now combine four characteristics. They are ones which are easy for marlin to catch, that imitate an excited wounded bait fish, that swim erratically, and finally, that dive reasonably deep in the water.
His formula is simple, but Pakula maintains his lures re incredibly precise, making them classically and effectively different from the more than 70 plagiarized and mostly unsuccessful copies which re now found throughout the game fishing world.
The cheaper replicas are easy to spot and Pakula takes pleasure in sharing that not one has won a tournament anywhere yet, because his copiers don't get the angles right". Pakula reckons the contour, colour and shape of a lure are paramount and even the slightest variation from a successful shape will produce a lure that fails to catch fish. Pakula lures are shaped so that in trolling action the head is covered with what Pakula calls "a comet" - that silver air bubble. He says the look of the head, as opposed to its shape, is less important than the skirt.
"When a lure swim's correctly the marlin can't see the lure head anyway. Fish are chasing the bubble action, the skirt and the colour, not the head. The vibrations put out by the lure are most critical. A fish tailing a lure is attracted first by the vibration, and only in the last instances is a fish turned on by colour. Pakula rejects theories that eyes on hard head lures make any significant difference to catch rates, saying "eyes eve nothing to do with anything" New Zealanders, says Pakula, have made great strides since his last visit in 1989, coming to terms with trolling lures in preference to live baits and, more specifically, coming to terms with trolling hard heads. "Kiwis used to subscribe the old theory that marlin only come back for soft head lures. But now that they've started to catch fish on hard heads these attitudes are changing. They now know that fish will come back just as often for the hard head. The slight weight difference makes the hard head easier to catch marlin.
The history of lures dates back to when ancient anglers used them to catch bait fish. Through the use of these standard lures developed an awareness that predator fish could also be caught on lures. But as Pakula admits freely: "No lure will ever take over from live bait in catching game fish because livies put out the perfect, most natural vibrations.
'A lure will never out-fish a live bait. I'm a lure maker, but I'm also realistic. Take a marlin in certain situations, or any predator fish for that matter, and put a live bait and a lure out there, and the fish will often prefer the live bait. The live bait reacts, a lure doesn't".
Lures are valuable for covering large areas when trolling. Using live baits, anglers usually troll no more than a few km.
Lures, of course, have many advantages, not least that when one is found to work it will continue to work long after supposed newer, better models hit the shelves. Pakula made one lure, which he brought with him this trip, that has caught more than 100 game fish, including 35 marlin.
The advantages of lures go even further, too. A video clip Pakula packs with him and enjoys showing at seminars captures just how finicky marlin can he when approaching live bait rigs. In the video, seven experts from Cairns were asked to rig live baits for trolling. The marlin went for only one because the rest were unintentionally rigged imperfectly and the fish could tell. This leaves Pakula to say: "Bait, unless rigged absolutely perfectly, doesn't work and less than one in seven bait rigs are done up properly".
Pakula is tough on his own product. None of any new range makes it to the marketplace without catching a fish. Even more stringent though, are his own personal standards which dictate that any new lure must not only catch a fish, but he the first lure to do so on its first time out, in order for it to he included in his latest range.
If Pakula lures have a special secret it may be in the skirt colours. Pakula uses skirts with either plenty of fluorescence or ones which are luminous. He has five luminescent colours in his range - larger than any other manufacturer. He suggests his hottest lures, ones which have caught fish around the world, vary in colour.
In the United States, green and black, or green and red seem to work best. Kiwis tend to go for purple and blue, or black and purple. If Pakula were to fish New Zealand waters, though, he would go for the luminous green and fluorescent purples, even though his favourite colours are green and yellow.
And did the master lure maker fish New Zealand during his short stay? Not for game fish, although he still chases Marlin regularly off Runaway Bay in his four-meter boat in Australia. Here? He chased trout in Rotorua and on a helicopter trip to the Ngaruroro and landed plenty, the biggest on fly being 6lb.