WHEN Inverell's Jamie Flett began making freshwater fishing lures at the age of 16, the process was slow and labour intensive. Today, Jamie can produce up to 300 lures a week, selling them both at home and overseas under the Mudeye label to fresh and saltwater fishermen.
"I used to carve the lures with a Stanley knife from timber," Jamie said.
"I just started making a few for myself, and the blokes I would go fishing with always wanted me to give them my lures."
Fishing has been in Jamie's blood ever since he was born.
"I was out fishing when I was two weeks old," Jamie said.
"I caught my first fish on a lure when I was five. It was at Yetman, we lived there for a while."
A carpenter by trade, Jamie initially used a belt sander to shape 80 to He's Hooked: Jamie Flett displays the end result of his lure making projects.
100 lures a week from white beech or cedar. Then, he would spend hours meticulously painting each lure in a shed in the backyard of the family's Evan's Street house.
"I sold them to my mates and through mates who worked around the place," Jamie said.
Production scaled up dramatically when he replaced the timber lures with polyurethane plastic ones moulded to represent the naturally occurring food of both saltwater and freshwater fish.
"Suddenly, I could make 300 a week," Jamie said. "I also found they were cheaper to make."
The 13 moulds used by Jamie cover everything from Murray Cod and Golden Perch to Barramundi with the strength of the far north Queensland market only recently hitting home to Jamie.
IN 2004 JAMIE RETURNED TO MAKING ALL OF HIS LURES FROM TIMBER, HE CAN STILL MAKE 300+ PER WEEK!!
"The freshwater lures used to keep me going through summer, but in the wintertime things would slacken off," Jamie said. "Now I have the barra season starting up and at the end of winter we have the flathead and bream over on the coast.
"It's all averaging out."
"There are blokes using my lures in Norway, Finland, the USA," Jamie said. "We used to take a lot of Japanese people fishing around the place on tours and they would always take my lures home with them." But his first breakthrough into an overseas market was through a supplier in Singapore who sought Jamie out after hearing about his lures.
"They rang me," Jamie said. "They found me through Fishing Tackle Australia in Coffs Harbour."
Now 30, Jamie is still as passionate about his fishing as ever and he remains refreshingly unaffected by the success of his backyard business.
"The business is building each year," Jamie said. "I'd sell between 8000 and 9000 lures a year. "It's great for me because when I'm at home I'm working, and when I'm not working I can go out fishing."