Remember how, when you were a kid, your mother carefully prepared dinner each night, seasoning it always with that little something special? And it tasted oh, so good, right? I am reminded of this watching Dustin Moncrief pour a batch of soft-plastic stickworms (that is, Senko lookalikes) in the tackle room in the basement of his house. His attention to detail, counting the precise number of dye drops needed to shade and colour the worms, and measuring the tiny grains of salt required to flavour the baits is clearly a pure labour of love.
Which is ironic, because life hasn’t been overly fair to the 17-year old Kenora fishing phenom, who is battling a rare form of brain cancer, one of only 45 cases world wide. It has caused him to postpone his final year of high school and travel to cancer care facilities in Winnipeg, Baltimore and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. From lesser souls, you’d expect anger, but not from Dusty. He is all about fishing and his fledgling First Cast Tackle Company.
“I pour stickworms, swimbaits, grubs, frogs, tubes and beaver-style baits,” he tells me. “And because I work with small batches, I can carefully control the temperature of the plastic, and pour just about any colour bait. If an angler has a secret shade, all I need is a small sample and I can match it. It is the same with the metal flake and salt content. I can add as much or as little as the customer wants, affecting the density of the lure and thus, its rate of fall once it hits the water.”
For custom, hand-poured soft-plastic baits like these, one would expect to pay a premium price but that is not the way Dusty operates his business. “I love fishing for smallmouth bass on Hawk Lake, just east of Kenora, where our family cottage is located,” he says. “And in the summer, I work at Hawk Lake Lodge. It gives me a chance to experiment and field test my baits. We’ve caught so many smallmouth, walleye and lake trout on them that the lodge is now one of my regular customers, as are several bait shops in the Kenora area. Customers also pick them up at the house and I can ship them anywhere.”
With the fishing season about to get underway, and knowing that you can never have too many premium soft plastic baits in your tackle box—especially in your favourite secret shade—I am betting you want to know how to order some First Cast Tackle baits poured by hand by the man himself. You can order them HERE(postage will be added to any items shipped by mail). Dustin’s inventory includes: