In the Beginning
One day in the spring of 1986, the founders of one of Australia's most respected lure manufacturing companies were in a boat on Lake Copeton in northern NSW, tossing around the idea of building and marketing a better fishing lure.
What prompted us to explore this idea?
• The high cost and poor durability of imported lures
• The scarcity of suitable commercially available deep divers
• Belief in our ability to succeed
We each put in $200 as start up capital for the venture and nurtured a dream that maybe one day we'd export lures to the world.
In those days, the majority of the lures we used came from the USA and we decided that exports back across the Pacific would be the ultimate yardstick of our success. (That milestone was reached 15 years later, thanks to one Joshua Schainbaum of Aussie Tackle).
Needed — One good design
Having made the decision to take a shot at it, the next step was to design our better fishtrap. A series of handcarved prototypes followed — each put through its paces in field trials. It was a period spent learning a lot about lure hydrodynamics and what it took to turn Murray cod and golden perch on.
Eventually a design was chosen which, despite evolutionary refinements over the years, is still recognised as the classic and definitive Australian lure with a bend. What better name for this first product than the Boomerang.
Needed — A good brand name
Australia was on a roll. Just two years before we'd created history by winning the America's Cup, and Men at Work's song 'Downunder' had become an anthem. So we chose Downunder Lures as our trading name. It was doubly appropriate because our lures were designed to get down!
But you thought this was a Predatek site? Yeah, we'll get to that later! Skip to page 6 if you're impatient.
Early Days in Business
(All Australian boys need a shed)
Working weekends from a farm shed near the rural village of Elsmore, we made Boomerangs by hand from white beech and Australian cedar sawmill waste. We built crude jigs and wood shaping machines driven by washing machine motors. The iron walls reverberated and the sawdust billowed!
Innovative from the start, we were the first Australian manufacturers to use tough polycarbonate sheet for bibs. For consistency, we made jigs to cut and drill these, and each was hammer stamped with a DOWNUNDER die.
Our paint shop was a small store room in the smash repair shop of Gaukroger's Holden dealership in Inverell — a business founded by the great grandfather of two of the Downunder boys, cousins Frank and Rob.
Facilities were primitive. For example, one day a minor tragedy struck when a rack of freshly lacquered lures toppled. Scattering on the dusty, gritty floor the sticky lures came up looking like lepers and were unsaleable. So much painstaking work ruined.
Back then, we were direct marketers, selling lures locally and by mail order, by word of mouth and off the back of cameo appearances in fishing magazines. It was a buzz to see our name in print and our lures in the faces of so many fish around the country.
Slowly, we built a reputation — our lures worked very well.
Slowly — because handcrafting lures wasn't fast!
Slowly — because we all had day jobs too!