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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interview with John Delaney of Fish Creek Spinners

Ben G. Outdoors hasn't really been keeping up our end of the bargain when it comes to fishing related topics so I am very excited to introduce you to John Delaney of Fish Creek Spinners. From what I have seen these spinners are top notch, the cream of the crop if you will. In my opinion Fish Creek Spinners are just as good if not better than all the big name spinners on the market. I have yet to try out the spinners John sent to me and probably won't get too until the ice is out. Watch for an update and/or review this spring or summer.

1. John can you let my readers know what inspired you to start Fish Creek Spinners?

There have been lots of small steps and fateful events along the way, but the one I remember most (bordering on inspiration) occurred on a camping/fishing trip to Miracle Mile on the North Platte River; a certain place, a certain time and a specific fish.

To find spinner components, I used to search the hardware stores looking for interesting angle worthy items. On one trip, I came across an aisle storing spools of various plastic tubing sold by the foot and I bought a few feet of several types. The braid reinforced PVC tubing really interested me; I thought it looked like fish skin.

I cut the braided variety to a 1 inch length and hand-crafted a ‘monster’ of a spinner from it; #5 French blade, a couple plastic beads to bookend the PVC tubing, and a #6 treble hook. The woven crisscross pattern on the PVC was reflective and sure looked like fish scales. The spinner was not a pretty sight, a little big, a little buoyant, but still worthy of my attention and a test in the water.

The spinner got its first swim below the Cortes Dam on Miracle Mile on the North Platte River north of Sinclair, Wyoming.

It was a cloudless sunny day, without wind, an unusual day in Wyoming. On my second cast a big brown trout surfaced on the far bank to examine and grab it. He hit my spinner hard and ran upstream in strong current. What a memory, I scrambled over rocks to keep him away from other obstacles and eventually brought him to shore to land and release him. I admired the beautiful fish maybe a 5 pounder with my ‘monster’ spinner in his lip, then removed the spinner and sent him back to his home, leaving us both to reflect on our choices.

The inspiration in this memory was that it shattered my perceptions of what a spinner had to be. That spinner wasn’t precise; it wasn’t a certain weight, size, or color, just an unattractive piece of PVC, book-ended with a couple beads. Yet it attracted and caught this amazing big beautiful fish. It didn’t have to be a Panther Martin, Mepps, or Blue Fox or some other big brand found in stores in order to catch fish.

I guess the impact and inspiration was that once you recognize what things don’t have to be, it’s easier to imagine what they might be. That profound observation at the side of the North Platte broke down a wall and made some space for Fish Creek Spinners - alternative spinners catch fish.

2. I know you and your son run FCS, does anyone else help out?

Every spinner in the water helps our brand recognition as anglers choose to give us a try. So that said, our biggest outside help comes from the anglers and fishing forums around the country that recognize FCS and help promote our brand.

We’re a family owned business. My sons, Ben and Will and my fiancée Marie all help out, even the grandkids. Marie jokes we’re a non-profit. I do the component and packaging purchasing, Ben and I do the designs, assembly and packaging. Marie keeps us organized, asks the tough questions that keep us grounded and manages some of the paperwork. Will supports the web, photo editing and graphics. Other family members perform quality control on fishing trips. We’re having fun and it’s exciting to have a dream.

3. Why are FCS spinners a great alternative to the existing big name brand spinners?

Hmmm, I don’t have a quick answer to this one. Technology changes, fishing changes, fish change, and spinners change.

Imagine you’re standing on a bridge over a river. Which direction would you choose to fish? Upstream or Downstream, Left or right? It all depends on individual choice and there’s no right answer.

Fishing is filled with choices and anglers will continue to seek out alternatives. We’re selling more spinners each year and expanding our presence cast by cast, around the world. The anglers choosing our brand try them and buy more. Their decisions and our continued improvements could make us a ‘great’ alternative someday. Today we’re happy to be an alternative and I already feel successful. Our future successes will be measured by lots of small steps. Things that go fast cost more.

We can’t be found as easily as the big brands, except on the web. That’s something different that I find interesting; a game changer.

4. Can you tell us a little about the materials and the process used to make FCS spinners?

We use a lot of faceted glass. It’s more reflective then plastic with an abundance of color choices. It’s also made from silicon (sand) and ‘green’. We added metal discs to protect the glass, but found the discs brought a lot of added fringe benefit. The discs created noise and vibration and even caused the glass to rotate with the blade and reflect more light. Kind of a game changer and they give the spinner a different underwater profile and although I don’t have a hydrophone, I 'suspect' a different higher frequency noise profile then other thumping spinners due to the discs lighter weight and it's ability to wobble back and forth against the blade during rotation.

After time in the water, you'll notice score lines on the underside of the blade where the discs are rubbing and causing friction. The scores are wider then the disc. To me, this validates they wobble and 'ring' the dinner bell attracting strikes.

Components are high quality and bought from US companies (from East to West, Worths, Lakeland, and Hagens).

The spinners are assembled locally in Boulder County in Colorado. Although I have been approached, there are no plans to offshore manufacturing. Ideally we grow to create more jobs.

Here are some pictures of the spinners click on them for larger views

5. Does FCS offer any products other than spinners if so what are they?

After being prompted by Marie, I tried selling some fishing theme earrings but they didn’t sell and we removed them from the store.

6. John when I was reviewing you site I came across a unique aspect of the packaging you use for your spinners. Can you give us a little more insight on it?

When we started wholesaling for retail sales I had to come up with a better way to package the spinners and I wanted something unique and reusable. I checked the typical clamshell packaging, but it added cost and was throw away. I decided to use clear plastic containers with convenient pop off caps. I call it ‘pocket tackle’.

The cool FCS display and  packaging

The container protected the hook, but didn’t display well so I built custom wooden displays with a wood-burned mountain theme logo. Each display hold 36 spinners, in hindsight, I wish I would have numbered them.

To expand into larger corporate settings, I needed something for wall mounting so I designed a custom rack card to hold the container for wall mounting.

Lots of small positive improvements. After sale, the containers find homes organizing tackle boxes and other creative use. I put a couple spinners in a few tubes and I’m ready for the high country hike to my secret beaver ponds - ‘Pocket Tackle’.

Web shoppers ordering 20-30 spinners a year, are saying they want something simpler and have enough containers… This year we’ll provide an option for reduced prices if ordered without the tubes, wrapping the spinners in a corrugated strip for shipping and offsetting the price difference with a few extra spinners.

7. What type of fish have you had the most success catching with your own spinners?

I like fishing in Mountain Rivers, streams and ponds. It’s definitely Trout for me; Browns Rainbows, Brookies, Lakers, and Cutthroats.

Fish Creek Spinners catch different fish around the globe; Trout and salmon, Musky and Pike, Rock Bass, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Walleye, Perch, Crappie, Fallfish, and Bluegills. Even some salt water feedback on Redfish.

8. What is your most popular spinner?

For a model it’s the glass Armadillo’s; Red and Orange or Black.

9. Does your FCS offer any type of promotions?

We provide promotion codes for discounts on web purchases to fishing forums we sponsor. There’s also a Fish Photo promotion on the website that was pretty popular last year and its being continued. If you buy a bunch of spinners online, then make the effort to take some digital pictures documenting your success, you can send me an email with a picture of the fish (mug shots appreciated). I’ll post them on the site and send you a free spinner for your testimonial. Check us out, get them wet and send us a fish story for free spinners!

10. Now that you have all of us interested in your spinners where can we purchase them?

Our retail presence is growing around the country and the website lists each location by state. We have toe holds in about 14 states, but I expect that to explode this year. The web store is the most convenient spot for the time being. You can buy by credit card online or mail a check or money order. You will not be disappointed and I’ll track your location on our Get on the Map page recording our expansion and your location as an FCS customer. Check it out.

11. Last but not least, what can we expect from FCS in the future?

We’re small, friendly and adaptive. We’ll continue to try new things and take lots of small incremental steps to bring you fresh and interesting fishing spinners as alternatives to the major brands.

I would like to have customers in all fifty states this year and be wholesaling in about thirty. I expect you’ll see FCS listed as catching fish in more state and forum fishing reports. I hope to see FCS winning some fishing tournaments or getting a few professional fishermen using our brand.

One other thing you can expect from FCS is a digital diary of sorts. On this years road trips I will be taking pictures of the business and shop owners who decide to purchase Fish Creek Spinners. From what I have seen in the past this is going to be a fun adventure to follow. Keep watching our web site for a link to the photos.

 Noise on the Line!


John sent me this video that shows FCS spinners in action

If you didn't get it from the interview John is a very nice guy and I really enjoyed talking with him. I think it's great that a family owned company like FCS has the potential to make a huge impact on the fishing world. I can see FCS spinners in every fishing related retail store in the country. Make sure you check out the Web site Don't forget FCS slogan Noise on the line!

~Ben G.


troutrageous1 said...

I stumbled upon FCS online a few years ago and I can't echo your remarks enough.

FCS makes a great product (the best components bar none) and John has always been a pleasure to buy from. Always listens to your opinion, always turns around orders quickly.

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Great interview Ben. The More info the better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ben. I enjoyed your interview and definitely will look into some of the Fish Creek Spinners.

Happy hook ups!

5crows said...

Ben, thanks for your time and energy helping to get the word out about Fish Creek Spinners.

I hope its an early spring in Minnesota and you find time to close the laptop and and take the family outdoors!

Noise on the Line!


P.S.Get those spinners wet and send me some fish pictures!

Marian Love Phillips said...

A very informative interview BenG...I won a pink reel and rod last year on The Hunter's Wife Blog and need to get it in the water ASASP...I'm hoping for this spring and summer. :)

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