A one-man business born out of making gear for his mates
The recent lifting of the demersal ban was welcomed by small business owners in the tackle industry like Paul Thompson.
The man behind the ever-expanding Snapbait range of tackle and fishing products, Paul said the impact of the new ban in February and March was being severely felt by many in the industry.
“It had a huge impact on us,” he said.
“I was trying to find ways to keep sales in stores ticking over and targeting areas outside the ban area, such as the Pilbara.
“My main concern was the tackle stores I deal with, as I could really see the impact on them with the stress and struggles.”
Paul said the ban was making the challenge of running a tackle store even bigger, especially for the small independent stores.
“They already have their hands full with the number of big chain stores and the ban is another nail in the coffin for some of them,” he said.
“The big stores can ride it out, but the smaller local tackles stores will really feel these new bans for six months of the year.”
Demersal fishing is certainly a key part of the Snapbait business model, with its Triple Threat hybrid rigs, new Sakana jig heads, assist hooks, squid skirts, Shimmer Shad soft plastics and Proto-J jigs.
However, it also does whiting poppers, terminal tackle and flasher rigs, as well as fishing tools and apparel, available from its website and also in just under 50 shops across Australia, plus some in New Zealand and the United States.
It is a one-man business born of making gear for his mates, after growing up in Queensland as a keen young fisho chasing whiting and bream in the estuaries around Hervey Bay, barramundi in the lakes and Spanish mackerel and reef fish offshore.
However, it’s a big change of career for Paul, who for almost a decade spent months at a time cut off from the world while living underwater as a submariner in the Royal Australian Navy.
“It was challenging and interesting,” he recalled of a life most of us couldn’t imagine.
“You get used to it – it’s like being in a plane for three and a half months.
“When you come back up you find out all the things that have changed in the world while you’ve been out of contact, like when the Prime Minister changes!”
The experience of living in a submarine still stays with him and certain sounds will trigger responses in Paul that take him back to that life.
Fishing was a big part of his transition back to ‘normal’ life and that passion led to designing gear.
“It was always a passion, I was always making rods and assist hooks and other things,” he said.
“Friends were noticing and getting me to make them gear.
“I started by designing a jig head purely based on hydrodynamics.”
Within six months, the Snapbait brand was born and on the shelves back in 2021.
“I’ve been surprised by how popular it has been in such a short amount of time,” he said.
“We do a lot of things now and all are custom designed.
“I really like the slow-pitch jigs, the Proto-Js, as they took me a long time to develop and design properly.”
Paul is hopeful the new rules won’t torpedo his business just as it gains steam and Snapbait is about to expand into rods, as well as increase its lure range with new knife jigs.
If you want to check out Paul’s work, set the periscope depth to www.snapbait.com.au for a full list of stockists.
Image caption: Paul Thompson with a pink snapper caught on one of his own lures.