|Wooden lures made by Dwayne Kotala|
|Incredible design and paintwork. Every lure is unique.|
|Plastic lures are each air-brushed by hand|
|Steve Merritt, Dwayne's stepson, was our outside worker|
|39-inch pike I caught yesterday on Kotala wooden lure|
|Wooden lure top shows bite marks of 39-ncher. Bottom lure got 34-incher|
|Mike's Mountain, across from camp, as I came back from fishing last night|
Dwayne Kotala had painted sets of five lures before the season to mimic the actual baitfish in Red Lake and Northwestern Ontario.
We took about 40 orders and handed them out over the summer. Dwayne also sent up a bunch of other lures that we sold in our little store at camp. Part way through the summer he also began making wooden lures and some of our customers ordered a couple of those. It was the largest of the wooden lures I used to get the 39-inch pike and one of the mid-size plastic ones that got me the 34 incher. The 38-inch pike I actually got on my favourite surface bait, the Live Target Walking Frog.
I believe the main reason most people haven't commented about the lures they bought is because fishing this summer was so good they didn't try anything other than their 'old faithfuls.'
We did have one lady who used Dwayne's version of the Shallow Shad Rap in a red-bellied dace pattern and reported she caught 50 walleyes and several pike, including a 38-incher. She and her husband's only suggestion was to offer it in the next larger size, about three inches rather than the 2.5 -inch one Dwayne had painted. The bigger one dives a couple of feet deeper, they said and they should know because the Rapala Shallow Shad Rap is the only lure they use.
Now here are my own observations. I didn't get out fishing much this summer but when I did I tried to use Dwayne's lures. The paintwork on the plastic lures is extremely durable. Unlike big-name brands, the surface on the Kotala plastic lures is basically unmarred by fish teeth.
Dwayne, you need to put larger, heavier hooks on your bigger lures, such as the wooden one above. I switched to bigger hooks on the plastic lure shown. The bigger hooks result in more hook-ups, are easier to remove from the fish and aren't bent when mashed down by alligator-like mouths.
The male red-bellied dace pattern worked extremely well. So did the tiger-stripe pattern of the second lure in the photo above. Incidentally, that second lure has an action I've never seen before. It took me awhile to get used to it. The lure must be retrieved slower than normal and when done so it dives to about five feet. It has a really great wiggle but the most seductive thing is it periodically turns on its side on the retrieve, like an injured baitfish. I also had to "doctor" the lure a bit to get the retrieve I wanted. I flattened the eye where you attach the leader so it was an oval shape, rather than round, and bent the whole eye downwards a little bit. You can do the same thing with any crank bait, including Rapalas.
I knew the big wooden lure was a winner the first time I cast one off the dock. Although this lure looks like it would only be good as a jerk bait, it actually has a wonderful wobbling, rolling motion when it is brought back on a steady retrieve and runs 2-3 feet deep. A Suick, probably the most famous musky and big pike lure, is just a coloured stick by comparison. If you are a dedicated big fish angler, you definitely want the Kotala lure in your tackle box. It is like nothing you've ever seen.
The lure measures 6.5 inches and has a nice weight for casting, much easier than a Suick. You can also fish it like a jerk bait, jerking it under and then letting it float back up but I found the following system works even better -- reel steadily for a half-dozen turns and then stop reeling. The lure actually rolls seductively back and forth as it floats up.
Although we will have lots of the various model $12 Cdn. plastic lures for sale next summer at camp, you need to contact Dwayne personally for any of the wooden ones. That's because I personally took every one he sent us home with me to use as Christmas gifts and for myself.
The big wooden lure sells for $35 Cdn. If that sounds expensive, think of what you are actually getting, a one-of-a-kind lure that is made just for you. You can ask Dwayne to make it any pattern you like.
It is the same as having a gunsmith personally make you a shotgun that fits like a glove or a one-of-a-kind fishing rod or a commissioned wooden duck decoy that will sit in a glass case.
In fact, that is what one of our guests said when I showed him my collection of Kotala wooden lures.
"If it was me, I would put those behind glass on the wall," he said.
Dwayne's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and his blog address is: