history

The personality of any company comes from its founder. Jim Bagley was an inventive, fun-loving, passionate fisherman who became one the most respected legends in the fishing tackle industry.

Even in his youth he had an entrepreneurial spirit. His first job as a kid was doing odd jobs in the very industry we would grow to love as he worked for Bill Eger of the Eger Bait Company in Bartow, Florida. Jim developed a keen work ethic and a desire to make quality fishing lures from Mr. Eger.

Fueled with a desire to succeed in the fishing tackle business, Jim purchased the dormant Dean Pork Rind Co. in 1954. Jim worked closely with serious bass anglers to develop his line of pork rind baits. His big break occurred when Field and Stream magazine ran an article called "That New Black Magic" describing the Black Magic pork rind eel Jim was making. This put Bagley on the map.

The real evolution of Bagley Baits came in 1960, however, when Jim became intrigued by the emerging balsa wood technology that was a developing trend in lure manufacturing. Jim understood that balsa wood was the best natural material known to man for a fishing lure. It's light and lively action could not be duplicated with other woods or plastic materials. Because most of the new balsa baits were very light and hard to cast, he saw an opening for creating heavier and more castable baits for the bass market. Jim’s first balsa bait, the Bang O Lure was a huge success. Bass anglers around the world quickly realized that this new "stick" bait could cast farther and offered a more pronounced action that attracts big bass. Jim followed with many famous balsa baits such as the Diving B, the first deep diving crankbait, and the Balsa B made with a square bill that enabled anglers to fish in heavy wooded cover and the Small Fry series whose shapes were life like replicas of forage baitfish. Jim was extremely proud of the fact that Bagley baits accounted for 4 Bass Master Classic wins.

In 1980 Jim sold his company and over the last few decades there have been a few owners of the Bagley Bait Company. Serious bass anglers, who loved Bagley baits, were paying top dollars to find classic Bagley baits that were becoming increasingly more difficult to find. However, now that has all changed! Two of the most respected names in the fishing tackle industry, Bill Cullerton and Jarmo Rapala, have merged to rebuild The Bagley Bait Co. They have vowed to honor Jim Bagley's original designs while improving the action of these classic baits in order to create the best quality baits the world has ever seen.

(The history of Bagley was written in collaboration with Dan Basore, a fishing historian and owner of Historical Fishing Display)


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