Michigan high school students create fishing lure company

In this March 19, 2019 photo, Ethan Stoops, left, and Jack Flynn, who created EJ Jigs to make and market fishing lures, pose in Traverse City, Mich. They pour molten lead into the mold, then paint the fish-shaped lures. (Dan Nielsen/Traverse City Record-Eagle via AP)

By DAN NIELSEN
Traverse City Record-Eagle
AP Member Exchange
TRAVERSE CITY — Two Traverse City Central High School students went fishing on Grand Traverse Bay and caught the entrepreneurial spirit.
“I got into jigging a couple of years ago,” Jack Flynn, 17, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
He and his friend, Ethan Stoops, 17, do a lot of fishing together. A jig is a type of fishing lure with a lead body; the weight allows the lure to be moved in a jerky motion, which can attract a wide variety of fish species in both winter and summer. Fishermen catch the attention of hungry fish by moving the lure up and down in the water, typically near the bottom.
“Under the sun, in summer, it’s fast jigging that works,” said Stoops. “In winter, it’s slow.”
They struggled to find commercially available jigs that attracted fish and were durable.
The up-and-down jigging motion can cause the lures to bump into rocks, which makes durability an issue.
“We started looking at the market, and saw there wasn’t much,” Flynn said.
The two friends did see business opportunity. They hatched the idea of making and marketing their own jigs.
They researched the concept last summer, chose the business name EJ Jigs in September, bought the necessary manufacturing equipment — a small lead melting pot, a couple of molds, lead ingots, powder-coat paint supplies, hooks, shafts and split rings — and began experimenting with prototypes in the waters around Traverse City. Results proved promising.
Stoops and Flynn activated an eBay store just after Christmas. They reeled in their first order three weeks later. They’ve since recorded online sales in California, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin.