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Business Profile: Sick-Em Lures specalizes in custom made lures

R. R. Branstrom | Daily Press Ken Hyland, the man behind Sick-Em Lures out of Manistique, shines a light on his hand-crafted prducts, many of which glow even in light, thanks to a paint he mixes himself.

EDITOR NOTE: The Daily Press will be featuring a series of articles on local businesses, highlighting their history and what makes them unique. The series will run on a regular basis in the Daily Press.

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ESCANABA — Ken Hyland has been crafting fishing lures since 1977. For a little over 20 years, they’ve been sold under the brand name “Sick-Em Lures.” Hyland is proud to say that he does everything himself, though the logo was drawn by a friend.

The Sick-Em Lures workshop is in Manistique. Products created therein are sold in stores across the Upper Peninsula and prized by fishing charters and guides, Hyland said.

He creates a range of styles, shapes and sizes, topped with colors and patterns and a glow paint he mixes himself.

“A lot of it is hands-on because I can’t find what I have in my mind,” Hyland said. “I started doing this back in 1977, so that was without the benefit of the internet. There’s not a whole lot of information in libraries … so it was all done hit-and-miss. Lots of hours, lots of money.”

His work seems to have evolved in part from a frustration with the quality of mass-produced items on the market.

“I don’t like junk fishing lures,” Hyland said. “I don’t like stuff that, you know, it’s gonna snap. I make stuff for the pros.”

He says his “claim to fame” is the custom service he provides to customers with unique visions.

“If somebody wants something that’s custom, what I ask them is for a drawing or — I need specifics on what they’re thinking,” Hyland explained. “And then I’ll make a mock-up of it. May be a drawing, might be something made out of wood. And I’ll use markers, just so I’m not popping an air brush open and having to do this. I’ll take a picture of it, send it to ’em. if that’s what they’re looking for, then they’re made.”

He said that the minimum order for such tasks is $25.

But there are tried-and-true designs that are made in large batches and carried by distributors. In the U.P., Sick-Em Lures may be found at Wild Bill’s Bait and Tackle and Parmer’s Farm Market in Sault Ste. Marie, Wilderness Treasures in Pickford, The Lucky Lure in DeTour Village, Duke’s Sport Shop in Newberry, Superior Outfitters in Marquette, Wilderness Sports in Ishpeming and the Mini Mart in Garden.

When it comes time to expand, Hyland — who just retired from his day job in August — said that he has contacts downstate, in other states and abroad.

Sick-Em Lures are shipped around the world; customers pay shipping.

When asked what he likes fishing for, Hyland said, “Anything that bites. When you go fishing, don’t expect that you’re gonna get something. Because it wouldn’t be called ‘fishing,’ it’d be called ‘catching.'” There was a shared chuckle, and he admitted the line was not an original.

Despite his passion for careful, professional, high-end craftsmanship, Hyland expressed a belief that may come as a surprise.

“I don’t care if you’re a pro or the best fisherman in the world, you can’t outfish a kid,” he said, marveling at the beginner’s luck of youth. “A kid with a little Snoopy thing and a bobber will catch more fish, bigger fish. And I’ve seen it.”

On that note, Hyland said that he’s all about getting youngsters into fishing and is “always willing to help one way or another” with kids’ fishing tournaments and the like.

The Manistique workshop may end up opening into a storefront, but for now, the way to track down a custom Sick-Em Lure is by reaching out through Facebook, by e-mail at kenhyland1234@gmail.com, or on Hyland’s personal cell phone at (906)286-3680.

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