American-made Proven Versatility
“There’s a new old lure back in town.”
At least that’s what we say to newer generations of anglers who haven’t heard of, much less used, the Al’s Goldfish lure.
For those of you who do remember the wide tail-wobble and lazy flutter of the Goldfish and are pleased to hear it’s making a comeback, we say “you’re welcome”.
Either way, whether you’re scratching your head on the funny name, or drifting back to sweet memories of another time with a pretty little gold spoon, perhaps introductions are in order. I’m the owner of Al’s Goldfish Lure Company – and yes, you’re right – that’s a mouthful, so for the sake of minimizing word count in this article, I’ll simply refer to the brand as Al’s.
Al’s is a domestic (read: American made!) lure and accessory manufacturer, and in addition to our flagship spoon the Goldfish, we manufacture two other unique spoons, trolling rigs, and what is fast becoming a popular lure accessory, hook bonnets. Who knew lures needed to accessorize with an old fashioned hat?
Al Stuart, that’s who.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 years ago, Al Stuart decided to get into the fishing industry. He had some great products and he was a marketing whiz, and the Goldfish quickly became a favorite lure among anglers nationwide. It didn’t hurt that Al was connected with Gadabout Gaddis, who helped promote the Goldfish to his viewers. For the whippersnappers out there wondering who Gadabout was, or even how many more funny sounding names you’ll read in this article, get your Google fired up and check out his Wikipedia page. For those of you who think Google is a funny name but can’t access the Internet with your flip phone, you’ll probably remember Gadabout, who was a fishing TV program pioneer of his time.
Fast forwarding across the ages, the brand faced some bumps in the road and became more of a New England cult classic while many other American-made lure manufacturers either closed shop or outsourced to cheaper labor and materials overseas to stay competitive.
About three years ago, my husband Jeff and I became the latest part of Al’s history. We were once cogs in the corporate machine, working in a highly regulated government industry. I liken our life back then to well-fed dogs who get their kibble bowl filled on the regular. Despite having admittedly great jobs, we succumbed to the siren song of self-employment (I can be the boss of me!), and decided to find a business that appealed to our sensibilities. All sense was lost, and we quit our jobs, moved to Maine, and bought a small, but beloved, fishing lure manufacturing company.
While I joke about losing our senses, Jeff and I really believe in the company and the products because they work, we support American manufacturing, and as anglers ourselves, we appreciate the quality of these products. It is our goal to share that with you by bringing Al’s back as a must-have bait in every American angler’s tackle box.
Now that you know the past and our plans, let’s talk tackle!
Since the lures have had a lot of time proving they catch fish and because they are so versatile, Al’s catchphrase is “Proven Versatility”. Anglers will find success with so many different species when casting and retrieving, trolling, or vertically jigging these lures in open water and through ice. All of Al’s lures – the Goldfish, Forty-Niner and Helgy – are wobbling spoons, and all are plated in either 22k gold, nickel or copper, and some are hand-painted as well.
We tell everybody to direct tie to the things. If you are retrieving or trolling and use a swivel, it cancels out the lures’ designed action, which is to wobble. If you want a spinning lure, there are a handful of American lure manufacturers who make very fine spinners to fit that cubby in your tackle box. And may I digress for a moment… To the reader who thinks “I have enough lures, my tackle box is full” when considering our products, think of the woman who says “I’ve got enough shoes in my closet!” You can’t even imagine that, because no woman would say such a thing when it comes to shoes, and neither should an angler when it comes to bait.
If your tackle box is full, your current lures will not break up with you if you try something else, they’ll just scoot over and make room for more, so keep an open mind here and keep reading. …Back to the conversation about our lures and direct tying. Some people will ask about using fast snaps for easy lure change – yes, use one if that’s your style. For those concerned about line twist, we recommend tying a 3-6 foot leader with a swivel at the top, and direct tying the leader to the lure.
I grew up in the Southwest, lived in the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, and now the Northeast, and as you can see I just don’t have enough time under my belt to have gotten a whole lot of fishing experience in the Great Lakes area, or the Midwest generally. As a result, I’ll include some fish stories from anglers in your area to get our products some street cred.
Here’s a story about the Goldfish that even I hesitate to believe, but I’m not sure if it’s the story itself, or the storyteller that gives me that vibe. Nonetheless, this story is how Tom Peterson of Minnesota, a retired IT guy who subsists on brandy and cigars, came to be a sales representative for Al’s. Being a newly minted retiree, Tom stumbled across the Al’s brand and ended up with the 1/2-oz Goldfish plated in gold on his line. He says, even when sober and with surprising consistency, that within 40 minutes he had hooked up with two muskies, making him an Al’s Goldfish #believer. He called Al’s and said he wanted to spend his retirement days selling our products because that’s how much he believed in that lure. We agreed to the arrangement, and today, Tom does a fair amount of selling when he can find time to do so around his fishing trips.
When people look at the Goldfish, sometimes their immediate reaction tends to be “nice trout lure”.
Well, they’re right, it is a fantastic trout lure, but I think spoons in general get type-cast for specific species and that’s certainly so in this case. The Goldfish is also an effective bait for salmon, panfish, walleye, bass, northerns and muskies. As I mentioned early in this article, the Goldfish has a wide tail wobble, and it looks like a fleeing minnow when retrieved or trolled, which makes for a compelling target for any predator fish. When jigged, it has a lazy flutter and drops slowly. If aesthetics are important, the Goldfish is an attractive fella with nice proportions and a friendly face. Don’t let those good looks fool you though, customers frequently tell us “this lure is a killer”.
Ice fishing is upon those of us who live in the northerly latitudes, and the Goldfish can be vertically jigged in standard configuration successfully, but it also comes in a modified configuration for ice fishing, with a single hook off the nose. Tip the small 3/16-oz. ice jig with some kind of stink for panfish, bass and trout. I’ve had some anglers tell me the Goldfish ice jig is too big for panfish, and I’ve seen that itty bitty fish food they use for crappie bait, but I have a lot of photos from ice anglers that assures me the Goldfish ice jig is not too big for panfish!
Unlike the Goldfish, the Forty-Niner has one of those faces only a mother could love. The immediate impression most people have when they look at the Forty-Niner is that it behaves like a flatfish. It actually moves nothing like that, and is not a diver.
When retrieved or trolled, the lure swims on its back, and has a tight barrel-roll wobble. This action generates a lot of attracting flash, making it an effective trolling lure; although, Midwesterners taught us something else about this lure. We have attended several expos in the Midwest, and return customers told us their experience with this lure was remarkable when vertically jigged for walleye, both in open water and through ice. When jigged, it has a lot of flash as it flutters on the drop, and it also makes a bit of a racket, both good attention-drawing features. On the jig up, it randomly darts in whatever direction that bent nose is pointed, giving it the appeal of struggling prey.
I could go on about so much more…the Helgy, Al’s trolling rigs, those hook bonnets I mentioned earlier in this article…but that would turn this into a very long product-review sort of read.
To be brief, take my word for it – that overstuffed tackle box you have needs hook bonnets – they will make everything tidy and easy to access. If you want to learn more about our products, we’ve got lure action videos on YouTube, we’re interactive on Facebook and Instagram, and you can visit us at www.alsgoldfish.com, or call us to find out where you can find our products in your area.
Once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and we can attend expos again, please drop by our booth and talk tackle with us. We hope you have a great ice season ahead and that you will give our lures a spot in your tackle box!
- written by Mandy DeBuigne
I look forward to finding these lures then trying them on and around Lake Erie.
Keep your lines tight!