Laser-based lures among innovations

Fishing is a lot like building a mouse trap; someone always is trying to invent a better way to do it.

Like the fishing rod made out of carrot fibers that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, the results of those efforts can be seen on the show floor at ICAST -- the International Convention of Allied Trades -- held each July in Las Vegas.

Bruce Young is an inventor who believes the key to catching more fish is all about lighting up. For the past 10 years, Young has been working on a way to put laser technology to work in a fishing lure, an idea that came about by accident.

It began when he pointed a laser sight at his fish tank full of African cichlids and peacock bass.

"Every fish in there chased and would bite that dot. I could get 'em to bite rocks, and I could get 'em to bite each other," Young said. "Six months into it, I thought, 'What if I put a hook on that dot?' Ten years later I'm introducing the first laser lures in the world.

"Fish chase it. Cats chase it. Dogs chase it. I can't tell you why, but they simply do. If it eats meat, it's going to eat the laser light."

Young's line of Laserlures don't look different than your standard bass baits, but they come equipped with a red laser light that is water activated. The lures have no switches. Simply throw one in the water, and the light starts blinking intermittently at the front of the lure. If the entire lure lit up, it would trigger the defense mechanism in fish, Young said, but a small light is an enticer.

I tested one of Young's lures on the bass in Lake Mead, but the popper didn't generate a bite. Perhaps that's because there was no top-water bite that day. I got two dogs to chase the red dot from a laser pointer, so perhaps the Laserlure has something to offer. (No animals were injured during this test.)

For now, the jury is still out, and I'll let you know if the situation changes.

Something else I found interesting is the rod handle on many of the fishing rods that All Pro Rods of Tennessee produce. Rather than making his handles out of a single, handle-long piece of cork, All Pro Rods founder Roger Ray inserts four graphite rings, or arbors, between an equal number of cork sections.

To create a picture in your mind, consider the tail on a raccoon with light and dark colored rings.

"A good rod builder is going to build the rod so the blank comes to within a half-inch of the butt section of the rod," Ray said. "By having that blank have contact with those graphite arbors, it's going to allow the angler to have direct contact with the rod blank.

"That allows tremendous tactile sensation no matter what kind of fishing you're doing. You can't catch the fish until you can feel the fish bite."

I haven't fished with one of Ray's rods, but the rods I held were so sensitive that I could feel the vibration when someone flipped a slack line with his finger. That vibration was strongest where the graphite arbors were in the handle.

For you striper fishermen, Berkley might have come up with something to help you catch fish when shad are hard to come by. Called Gulp Alive!, the product is what company spokesman Ron Kleigl described as the second revolution of another bait called Gulp.

The difference is that Gulp Alive! comes stored in liquid that contains attractants formulated for fish. What caught my eye was the movement of bait in water and its resemblance to live shad.

TOTAL OUTDOORSMAN -- Ken Galloway of Las Vegas qualified to participate in the finals of the 2007 Field & Stream Total Outdoorsman Challenge in Springfield, Mo., and will be competing for $25,000 in cash and prizes on Aug. 24 and 25. Participants will compete in seven hunting and fishing events.

Galloway, 34, qualified for the finals by finishing in the top five during the qualifying event at the Bass Pro Shop in Las Vegas earlier this summer.

The finals will be televised in three parts on the Versus network beginning Sept. 9.

Doug Nielsen is an award-winning freelance writer, and a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. He can be reached at


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