He Turned A Tumble Into Triumph
By Stan Fagerstrom
The Blade Runner weedless swimbait head Richard Tietz designed continues to get lots of attention from serious bass anglers all over the place.
That’s easy to understand. His head lets you fish any kind of swimbait body even when they’re holed up in heavy cover. But it wasn’t a weedless swimbait head that really first got him going in the field of bass lure design.
That distinction belongs to metal spoons. In my first column about Richard I told how he had almost bought the farm when he fell off the top of a truck and smashed his head into the granite with which the truck was loaded. He was in and out of a coma for a year. When he finally did recover he found his injuries were still too much to keep him away from the tournament bass fishing he loved so much.
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Richard Tietz did his share of tournament bass fishing before he got into the bait building business full time. Today his tournament experience is reflected in the excellent lures and lure accessories he has developed.
Rich had always been interested in lures design. Now his burning desire to stay in the fishing business one way or another got him even more interested in lure design than he had been before.
“I’d been having some success fishing metal spoons for bass at California’s Shasta Lake,” Richard recalls. “Most of the spoons I was fishing were just big ugly looking flattened pieces of lead.”
The talented California angler started doing some serious design where spoons were concerned. “It took me about a year to come up with a line of spoons,” he recalls. “A tackle company out of California started selling some of first spoons spoons and I was eventually asked if I was interested in designing a full line up of spoons for them.
“I also started representing a few tackle companies and I did some serious study of bass fishing lures. I made it a practice to always listen to what fishermen were saying about what they were looking for in lures. I often carved out prototypes of different baits during my down time at home. I came up with all kinds of goofy stuff.”
Goofy stuff? Maybe some of his creations were sort of off the wall in the beginning. That’s not true today. The last time I talked to him a few weeks ago he’d just sold 4,000 of just one of this Blade Runner metal jigs to a lure distributor in South Africa! Sales of some of his other lures are selling the same way.
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The Blade Runner weedless swimbait head is attracting the attention of bass anglers all over the place. Well it should! You can fish this head with either solid or tubular swimbaits. Even more important is that it lets an angler fish these proven big bass baits in almost any kind of cover.
“Fishermen have had a lot of success with my metal spoons in both salt and freshwater,” Tietz says. “I guess it’s sort of a tossup between my spoons and my weedless swimbait heads as to which has experienced the most success.”
You don’t have to look far to find some of the West’s best known bass anglers who use Blade Runner spoons.
One such is Larry Hemphill, of California. Larry, a guy who does much of his bass fishing after the sun sets, has boated about as many big bass out of spots like popular Clear Lake as anybody.
Hemphill is just one of the established experts Richard Tietz has worked with closely ever since he got into the bait building business. Another is Bruce Porter. Porter owns Basstrix Lures.
You don’t have to visit with Tietz long to realize how much respect he has for Porter. Some of Richard baits are especially designed to match up with Porter’s Basstrix baits. The two have spent time fishing together as well as sharing ideas.
“There are certain people who put their heart and soul into trying to make things better,” Richard says regarding Porter. “He keeps coming up with lures that fish better.” I know some folks who would say the same thing about Tietz.
Tietz has much the same things to say about Gary Yamamoto that he does about Bruce Porter. “I love Senkos,” he says, “they are lures you simply have to have in your tackle box. When Gary knows there’s a need for a new color---he makes it. Some of his new laminate colors, for example, are great.”
Before Tietz developed his weedless swimbait head he came up with another lure called a Spin Trix. This lure can be used with almost any kind of trailer. Tietz says it works especially well with either a Basstrix paddle tail or a Yamamoto salt water swimbait.
“I remember a trip my son and I made to the California Delta,” he says.” he says. “I started out throwing a spinnerbait that had always been a good producer for me on the Delta. Meanwhile, Tom, my son, fished one my new Spin Trix lures from the back of the boat.
“I couldn’t get a hit and my son was catching one fish after another while fishing behind me. I couldn’t believe the difference in the way that lure produced.”
The best selling size---and sales are always a good indicator of what’s catching the most fish---in the Spin Trix is the 3/8th ounce. The best selling color is the one with a gold plated head. The pearl white and black shad are also popular shades.
Early on some anglers tried these lures in salt water. “It wasn’t long,” Tietz says, “before I started getting calls from salt water fishermen who said they had to have some more these baits. That’s why we’ve added 1 and 2-ounce sizes to our lineup especially for salt water use.”
Don’t try to pin Richard Tietz down on exactly how to fish any of the lures he produces. It won’t work. It won’t because he’s been around bass and bass fishermen long enough to know darn well that bass don’t “always” do anything. I can’t fault him for that because it’s something I’ve been preaching and writing about myself now for the past half century. Give the fish an opportunity to tell show you what they want. That might be a tad different after dinner than it was before breakfast.
“For example,” Richard says, “when I’m using one of my spoons I’ll probably manipulate it 10 different ways every time I go out until I find what works.”
That’s a sound and solid approach for any of us every time we’re on the water. Coming from a bassin’ man who did indeed turn a tumble into triumph it’s especially meaningful. You won’t go wrong employing the same tactics or in using certain of the baits Richard Tietz has created at Blade Runner Tackle to do it with.