The Start of the Journey
I was around 8 when I first saw a collection of lures for sale. Up until that point, all I was familiar with was fishing with bait. To tell you honestly, I didn’t even think they would work, but as with most fishermen, the skepticism that I had gave way to wonder and curiosity, which later on turned into want.

The want gave me determination; more specifically, the determination to save the money to buy the lure. It was about 200 Philippine Pesos – roughly 20 AED. Although we might scoff at the amount nowadays, remember that I was in elementary school and my allowance was very meager (and let me remind you that the Philippines, although progressive, is a third world country). It took me six months to save every bit of money I came across, and when I finally bought the lure, it was like finding treasure.

A taste of whats to come - Majority of the lures pictured here are for a 2017 release - I get to play with them a year before they get into the public's hands

The Lure of Lures
To an angler, lures are the lifeblood of their tackle box. It is the single thing that makes the fish bite – without a good one at the end of the line, the expensive rod and reel become nothing but ornaments that can’t catch fish. If you are into it, lures are probably the single biggest expenditure you will have in your lifetime of fishing – because you cannot use just one lure to cover the different depths, localities, fish and situations that you will likely encounter at any given time.

There are a multitude of colours for one single lure, and truth be told, no matter what people say – an angler chooses more than just one colour of a single model – and if another guy catches a lot of fish in one particular color you might not have, I can guarantee you that you will go to one of the tackle shops and get the exact same one when you get the chance. We all have our favorite colours and we buy multiples of this colour in any lure we use; this is something that’s almost sacred because you cannot run out of these colours in these lures. Now, multiply that by a conservative estimate of five types of lures, and even with this unrealistic figure, you are bound to have at least ten in your tackle box. Even if you have a lot of tackle boxes filled to the brim with lures this does not guarantee you catching fish every time you go fishing. As anglers, we feel that the more armed we are with the latest and greatest lures made, the better the chance of us catching fish. It does work from time to time and that’s what gives us hope.

My Journey Continues
I started lure fishing when I felt the need to look for a better and more exciting way to catch fish. I also found waiting on a bait bite boring and frustrating at times; the crabs that go after your bait and the constant snagging of junk off the bottom made the experience less exciting for me. At this point in time, the first lure I bought still remained unused a few years after being purchased. It had treble hooks and it snagged more weed and debris than I thought it would and I still remember how long it took me to save up for it, so I was not in a hurry to lose it. I was in my first year of high school and my allowance has improved a bit so I did the most obvious thing I could possibly think of: buy more lures.

At about the same time, I also discovered two things: a section of the biggest book store uptown had a selection of fishing books. I bought my first fishing book that same day, and the next week, I also
discovered a small second hand book store tucked behind a department store in the downtown area. After rummaging through some books, I found a stash of old fishing magazines. It was at this point where I started reading up on large mouth bass, which gave me an idea of other types of lures. This is the time when I discovered that most of the techniques for bass could be used to target snakehead. This jumpstarted my interest in lures and my collection started to grow.

I read and learned from a lot of people, and after some time, I was able to determine what works and what doesn’t. I also learned that there is more to working lures than just reeling them in – as soon as I learned that you can impart other actions to the retrieve than just reeling them straight in, my catch rate spiked up. It fueled the addiction and there was no turning back. For most people, this would be the end of the line; as the lures acted the way that attracts and gets fish to bite, the angler in you is content and that’s all you ask for. It wasn’t the case for me, I wanted to learn how things worked and I had to find out what made the lure cast far, why it swam the way it did, look for rods that make them work better, lines that made them dive deeper – basically everything that made it tick and what lures worked for which fish more effectively. I got technical, so technical in fact that when discussions came up, a lot of people I spoke with thought it was too much useless information, people scoffed, laughed and at times, even spoke ill of me behind my back – I ignored them and
continued on to what I loved doing and learning.

Rapala CD7 - My first lure, this one doesn't touch water and will go to my display beside my first lure

Another Chapter Starts
Fast forward a few years, I learned a bit more and realised a childhood dream – to write about my experiences in a magazine, which is what you are reading now. It is a journey that started when I first started to read fishing books and magazines. With this column, I was able to work with brands that offer products to fishermen – Companies LikeRTM and Deeper Smart Fish Finder reached out to me to be their brand ambassador in the UAE.
What was to come later was a bit of a shock more than a surprise, the realisation of another dream began in March 2015; the largest Fishing Tackle manufacturer in the world asked if I was interested in working with them to launch their satellite office in Dubai to supply the fast growing Middle East and North Africa market. Everything was kept under wraps and I was told to wait for them to visit and meet me. That day came later in the year, when five executives from Rapala were in town for business and wanted to meet me. The meeting was more of a long introduction more than an interview. They didn’t open the position for anyone else and really had their sights on me for a while, they explained. All I had to do was to tell them that I was on board. I told them that when I was eight, I saw my first Rapala lure. I saved for six months to be able to buy the lure, and now, Rapala is asking me if I would like to join the team and help them…what should I say?

A New Beginning
Eleven months after that meeting, I received two boxes – one from Estonia and another from Indonesia. As I opened each box, I was surprised to find items that will only available to the public in 2017. An email asking me to put them to good use, and a request for feedback on some lures included that are not for this region – “do you think you can use them there?” Earlier this week, I received an email from France apologising for the delay in shipping. Some of the hooks I requested were ready, but some were not. “We are sending everything in duplicates, so please keep one set in pristine condition for your photographs”.

I am still waiting for a few boxes and the shipment containing the list of rods and lures I requested for my use.

32 years ago, I had to save for six months to be able to afford my first lure. In the middle of the journey, people laughed and ridiculed me. 32 years after my first lure, I am receiving lures in the mail that the rest of the world has to wait a few months for. The box from Estonia had the exact same lure I bought 32 years ago; the only difference is it’s in the newest colour scheme and is set for release next year.

I opened the box and had the exact same feeling I had when I first held that lure I had waited six months for. I decided not to use it. I got this one free, but I had to wait 32 years for this moment. This will join my first lure in the display back home, side by side with the one from 32 years ago, both opened but both unused.

To the Future
With the ever growing number of fishing enthusiasts, there’s an increase in the growth of fishing technology, and at times it’s hard to keep up with what’s out there. It is an exciting time to be involved in the sport, and for me, being directly involved in its growth and evolution is somewhat mind blowing.

Dreams do happen, but the road to realisation has a big price tag. If you’re willing to go the extra 10 kilometers after everyone reached the finish line, it pays off. Keep an open mind and keep on going forward.

Tight lines and screaming reels,

Kit Belen

Our fishing pro who shares his experiences and expertise with OutdoorUAE through his regular column.

Photos by: Kit Belen and Rasmus Ovesen