Confession time, I played with powder paint for the first time about 10 years ago and HATED IT. Overheated the lead, it clumped on the jigs and you constantly had to “fluff” the powder to get an even coat. It looked so bad when I would get done that I put the powder paint away and broke out the vinyl and lacquer products and started dipping out of the jars.
About four or five years ago, I started to see these guys at the fishing shows with a booth with a display about powder painting. Never even stopped by to see what they were doing, hated powder paint, the tote with the different colors could stay upstairs in the shop for all I cared. Then this year found out I was going to be fishing the MWT walleye tournament in April. Started thinking to myself about how many tournies in the last couple of years had been blown off Lake Erie, and been forced to fish the Detroit River.
I knew I had to take another look at my jig boxes, and update a few things. I also knew after the MI-OH Sportfishing Expo, that Pro-Tec had come out with some pretty sweet new colors to paint the jigs with. Which meant I was going to have to force myself to take another look at painting with powder all over again. First night, same results as in the old days, still equalled a more frustrated me. Powder would not stay fluffy, overheated the jigs…another messy job.
So being the informed 21st Century angler that I am, I dug through my business card collection and when that time tested method failed, I “Googled”. Did some reading, looked at some sites and when I went to the TJ’s Tackle website, the light bulb upstairs turned on. These were the same guys I had seen at the fishing shows. So I did some background checking, talked to a few guys, watched the video’s and read the info that was on the website. Ended up pulling the trigger Wednesday and placing an order.
I ordered the 3 inch bed because I knew I would painting some bigger jigs for the Detroit River. Also, picked up three additional cups to get started, because that’s how many jars of paint I ordered. Figured I might as well make it as easy as possible to get started. TJ’s has a really nice selection of paints available:
After placing the order, I thought what a great article this would make with the spring river bite fast approaching. Michigan guy with his own start up business, always a good thing. I sent off an email and got a response that night. I replied with a “call me” when you have some spare time one night to get some background information, and this is the direction I want to go with the article for the paper’s website.
Thursday night I got a call from Ben Leach from Coopersville, MI, who along with Brendon Smith partnered up to operate TJ’s Tackle.com. Ben is a computer programmer by day, and avid angler in his spare time. We started chatting, getting some info, and the next thing you know Ben says he is transplanted from the Upper Peninsula. Game on, the interview takes a back seat, and we start talking familiar haunts and fishing spots. The kind of interviews that I love to do, and it reminded me of the times when I talked to Tom at Moonshine Lures and Dave Shappell of shanty fame.
After a half hour we got back to it, after I discovered that Ben started off making crawler harnesses for walleye fishing here in Michigan and Canada. It wasn’t long and his son T.J. wanted to help by threading the beads and blades on the snells. They had so much fun doing that, that they started selling the rigs on Ebay.com to help pay for their fishing trips. That was back in 2003 when T.J. was six yrs old, and over the years they expanded the business to include the fluid beds, paint supplies, jigs…etc. The most recent product addition is an air brush specially disigned for working with the powder while painting spoons and spinner blades for harnesses.
Right then it clicked for me, something to really point out to make TJ’s Tackle stand out from the rest who might have similar products. The beds and brushes, well they made them their own. Like the old BASF commercials back in the day, they made them better. The cups that you put your powder into, have a special diffuser plate at the bottom that doesn’t clog up and allows the air to come through and move the powder around like a fluid in constant motion. One thing I noticed last night while breaking the unit in was when I shut the air supply off at the valve, the powder will actually settle a good 3/4ths of an inch back to the bottom. This really allows you to get an even coat on the jig, without wasting the powder. Even though during the video’s available to watch, its mentioned that you can heat up a wire to clean out the eyes of the jig, I found that only one jig out of about 50 actually needed its eye cleaned out after the process. The diffuser works that well, it simply doesn’t allow the powder to clog in any one spot on the jig.
Even though I think its a pretty good product, and was really happy with the results last night, anyone considering buying a fluid bed from TJ’s, should watch the video’s they have online. It makes every concept and procedure easy to grasp. One of the issues that I had way back when was using a torch to heat the lead, using a heat gun is really the way to go. Its a more even heat, and doesn’t leave the jigs with what I call “hot spots”. Where one side will look great, while the reverse will be bubbled up where the powder was actually burnt on, instead of an even melt.
How to video’s, available online to watch: http://www.tjstackle.com/instvideos.htm
Here are some of the jigs that I “painted” last night. After my past experiences, I was really happy with the end results.
Going back out to the shop tonight and breaking out some of the old containers of powder paint and going to give some more jigs their new coat!