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Buckeye Baits - Gold Standard Of Creek And River Soft Plastics

Joe Cornwall Interviews Matt Frondorf

 

When did you start fishing? What is your angling earliest memory?
 

I started fishing local farm ponds and neighborhood lakes when I was about five.  I fished with my older brothers. My earliest  fishing memory is one of catching bluegill on wax worms under a small cork bobber.  It was on Mr. Beringer's property.  I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. To this day, I think there is something satisfying about watching a bobber dance and then dive under.

 

I'm 39 years old and I'm married to Kimberly.  My wife and I have two boys; Braden, age 5 and Cole, age 3. I currently live in Cincinnati.  When I'm not working as a supervisor for Cincinnati Bell I make jigs and spinnerbaits, and I hand-pour special soft-plastic baits designed with regional conditions and species in mind.  Of course I also tie flies and build rods.  I fish from my Poke Boat, which I've had for a dozen years.

 

You're known as, shall we say, a "committed" angler. When did the bug really bite you?

I became an avid angler as I entered seventh grade.  By high school I was fully engaged. I used to Caddy at Western Hills Country club in the summer, and as I earned some money I upgraded my equipment, and started collecting lures for all types of fishing. I began to get species-specific as my knowledge increased.  I compiled tackle and rods for bass, panfish, Ohio river fishing, and rough fishing. I bought my first fly rod during my freshmen year of high school-- it was a Martin 6wt that I purchased from Swallen's Department Store. I still have that rod and use it today for Float and Fly fishing!  I used that rod to pester Bream in ponds and rock bass in some local creeks and I think that is when I really developed the passion.

How often are you on the water? What fish do you chase the most?


With work and family obligations I don't get out as much as I used to. I once fished thirteen states in one year, but now I get out around 75 days a year. I am lucky that my wife is from the Virginia and her family lives smack-dab in an area that has fine fisheries for everything from trout to smallmouth to musky.  I incorporate fishing with weekend mini-vacations.

 

It's hard for me to pick a favorite fish.  I really like so many species and techniques. Locally I fish smallmouth the most, but the Ohio river fishery is growing on me!  White Bass and bad-arse Hybrids RULE!!  I recently caught my first Mad River trout.  It's not a stretch to say I'll be doing more of that. I dream about pig-beast smallies from the New in VA, but I also love to take my two weight fly rod to harass the local panfish populations.  I consider myself to be a versatile angler and am well-versed in most fresh water applications.
 

How did Buckeye Baits get started?

Buckeye Baits started out of necessity.  I was young and short of funds.  I needed bass baits for fishing some creeks. The local stores had limited selections and I couldn't afford to do a ton of mail orders, so I started making my own. My first Buzzbait that I made was when I was 15.  I ordered the parts from Jann's Netcraft out of Toledo, Ohio. My home-made lures caught fish, and I started getting requests from my brothers and friends to make some from them.  Word of mouth spread and I now have baits in the tackle boxes of folks all over the country. It's a labor of love.
 

As with most of us, you are as quick to grab a spinning or casting rod as you are a fly rod when the conditions demand. Do you have a favorite technique?

My favorite technique is top-water.  Whether it's the sound of a gurgling Buzzbait on a stream, or tossing a size 20 Para-Adams to a current seam on a Mountain Trout stream; I love the visual take!  I consider myself to be a jig expert as well.
 

Buckeye Baits is known for spinner baits, buzz baits, jigs and soft plastics geared towards the stream fisherman. Does your intimate knowledge of hardware design influence how you fly fish and which flies you use?

I do take components of spin lure design and incorporate them into my pattern selection.  For example, I tie a fly rod jig-n-pig that suggests a bottom critter much better than a wooly bugger or Clouser. Those are both top-shelf patterns, but they are not as strong in the pre-spawn when the big females start to stage and a bigger, slower, deeper presentation is required. My familiarity with the rivers and creeks helps me select the best and most efficient pattern for any given day. Another example is when I'm targeting panfish.  I love to take an ultralight spinning rod and toss tiny tube jigs.  I tie up an imitation that matches that local bait and it is a real fly rod killer.

Both Tom Nixon and Jack Ellis espouse the use of soft plastics with a fly rod for a true "finesse" presentation. Have you fished your soft plastics using a fly rod? Is this something you're interested in?

I am starting to experiment more with soft plastics on the long rod, but I'm still a novice. I think it's a super idea and worthy of experimentation. To me, I can't see why it's such a "problem" for purists.  If the object is to enjoy your time on the water and catch fish, it's just the logical progression of the sport.  I'll be trying it out on panfish and bass trips this spring. Pouring my own plastic allows me the unique opportunity to try some unconventional baits.  I'm looking forward to pushing the envelope.


What emerging trends do you see occurring in the bass fishing community. What's the hot technique?

I think more future specialization will be seen in the fly fishing community. This trend is evidenced by the explosion in species specific fly lines.  There's a true niche market out there into which companies can expand. Pushing this envelope will continue as more fly anglers pursue carp and catfish on the fly.  And the steelhead crowd writes new chapters on the sport every season!

 

I think rod manufactures realize that the "cookie cutter approach" of their core selection can be effectively augmented with more specialized rods.  For example; on the spinning rod side there is an explosion in float&fly rods.  The same thing is evident with the G. Loomis Bronzeback series.  The companies realize that there are new markets out there.  There are new revenue streams and new businesses being associated with this metamorphosis of fishing technology.  This technology will lead the charge into the future starting with new rods, reels, lines, and tippet materials.

 

Another important trend is outreach to non-conventional fly fishing population segments.  We are seeing more women, more diversity, more new cultures assimilating the ethos and the  lifestyle of outdoor sports. As the sport of angling ages, new folks will be introduced to the "quiet sport."   And that's a good thing!  Of course, the downside is that may start a trend where there will be more pay-to-play water. We're seeing that all over the country, and that alarms me a bit.

The hot bait in fly fishing right now the gummy minnow.  It's popping fish everywhere!  Kreel Tackle's Spoon and Baitfish are also making names for themselves. Soft hackles are making a comeback. The hot technique most applicable to fly rodders is float&fly. It's "en fuego" all over.

What fish does Matt Frondorf chase in his dreams?


The fishing vision that helps me get through some rough days is popping a state record smallie on a buzzbait! I'd love to measure and weigh her for posterity, then slip her back in the water to fight another day. It's just a dream, but one day..........................................
 

Click on the Images Below for a Full Size Picture!

Jig & Pig

" Low and slow" is the way to go with this bait. Lift, drop, tick....... FISH ON!

Jig & Pig

A closer view of a bass fisherman's bread and butter bait.

Attractor Spinnerbait

Burn this bait for some savage strikes-- Toothy Critters love this color

Attractor Spinnerbait

What fish can resist such a face?

Critter

Ring the dinner bell - this madtom/sculpin/waterdog imitator is a big fish favorite!

1/4 Oz. Buzzbait in shad Finish

Keep the heart medication close at hand, fish will absolutely detonate on this one!

1/8 Oz. Buzzbait in Shiner finish

A "must-have" for creek smallmouth fishermen.

3 Inch Soft-Craw

A versatile bait that can be rigged on a slider head, Texas rigged, flipped, dropshotted or splitshotted--Everything eats crayfish

Hand-poured custom colors are a Buckeye Baits specialty!

Contact Matt for recommendations about what's hot for the species you're after!

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