Zach Dubois, 24, has a highly successful crappie grub on the market and recently introduced the Cooyon Croaker, a plastic frog sure to appeal to bass fishermen wherever bass eat frogs.
Dubois said he fields many comments about his relative youth in the artificial lure manufacturing business. He realizes many people have been established in the market 40 to 80 years.
He’s confident and cool as a cucumber about Cajun Lures and extra high on the Cooyon Croaker, which has been catching bass since he and others began fishing prototypes last fall. After all, his college education is helping with his full-time job as a boat designer and his part-time work at something he loves, making artificial lures that catch fish, though that means often staying up to 1 a.m. to make the product and promote it on the website, cajunlures.com.
It’s been a great start to the year for him in many ways. Foremost among them is his marriage Feb. 25 to Kayla Kebodeaux. They bought a house in August and started fixing it up, he said.
On their honeymoon, Dubois caught half a dozen bass on his new plastic frog on Lake Toho in Florida, and one extra-heavy “hawg” that smashed the Cooyon Croaker broke his rod and got away.
Kayla has supported his artificial lure manufacturing venture wholeheartedly, he said.
“She helps me on decisions. She knows I enjoy it and wants me to be successful one day,” he said. “She helps me out. Her and mom actually do some bagging for me.”
Dubois has fished for bass since he was old enough to get in a boat with his dad. The pair fished mostly at Toledo Bend, catching fish on a plastic lizard or a Zoom Brush Hog with Zebco reels.
He went to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he earned a degree in product design and manufacturing. And he fished.
“I really started getting serious into fishing in high school and college. I saw an article on the ULL Fishing Team, halfway into school,” he said, adding that’s where he got into competitive bass fishing, which led him to study the manufacturing of artificial lures, how different people made different baits.
“I was interested in starting some kind of business. I’ve been fiddling around with fish baits and thought I’d like to give that a shot. I told Kayla I’d like to start a fishing lures business. She said ‘OK.’ She probably thought I was full of it,” he said with a chuckle.
Dubois remembers what seems like long ago melting down plastics to make his first artificial lure in his mom’s kitchen. She wasn’t real happy, he said ruefully, but he actually caught fish on his very first production and a buddy of his in Texas used it to catch a 6-1. He was hooked.
“It’s cool,” he said. “I went to school for industrial design at ULL. I do a lot of stuff myself. I’ll design my lures and do all the CAD (computer aided design) modeling on my computer and do a lot of prototypes with a 3D printer. I guess it’s good to have all that knowledge.”
During his senior year in college he entered a competition similar to the television show, “Shark Tank,” where inventors present their ideas to potential investors. The ice chest he designed and the accompanying product pitch earned second place, which qualified him to be in an accelerator class put on by Opportunity Machine in Lafayette, he said.
“Basically, I learned a lot about the fundamentals of business and how to start up a business faster and smarter. I was very fascinated and interested learning about the business side of it and everything,” he said.
The Cooyon Croaker is about 4 inches long with its legs curled and about 6 inches with the legs uncurled.
When I first saw a Cooyon Croaker, after a conversation with Dubois, I thought, “Wow, it looks a little like a frog on steroids.” Mostly, it closely resembles a bullfrog, which is high up on the list of choice foods for bass.
“I’m pretty excited about it. I think it resembles a frog more realistically,” Dubois said, noting the shape of the body, including the legs, offer bass a seductive profile when they look up at it.
“It looks like a real live frog. I think that’s what triggers ’em. I’ve tested it. I’ve used it. It works,” he said.
“Some people who look at the frog might think it’s kind of goofy looking, but it works. Get it in your hands and throw it and see it come to life. I’m pretty sure people are going to enjoy it.”
As for himself, he said, “I can’t wait to get to Toledo Bend next month (April) when they’re really eating the frog.”
Dubois’ base of operations is a 16- by 10-foot shop, much smaller than the shop at his dad’s place. He made sure it had exhaust fans to rid the interior of fumes.
“I’ve got it set like it needed to be,” he said.
He has churned out artificial lures for freshwater and saltwater fishing. But there was something missing.
“I always wanted to do a frog,” he said. “I wanted something different. I like pushing the boundaries and getting as close to a real frog as possible. One day in the shop, I got an idea for paddle feet and curl legs.”
It wasn’t designed by whim or willy-nilly. Dubois, who works full time at Incat Crowther, LLC in Lafayette, a marine architecture firm, put his college education to use on making the Cooyon Croaker, which he is hopeful reaches or exceeds the popularity of his Slim Jimmy, a solid body sac-a-lait plastic grub with beau coup action.
The Cooyon Croaker’s mold was made in Michigan.
“The guy in Michigan did the frog mold for me. I did the 3-D drawing of it and prototypes. It’s pretty cool,” he said. That did more than save himself some expenses in the process, Dubois said, because “he was telling me I was the only person so far who made his job easier.”
When first testing the Cooyon Croaker out in a neighbor’s swimming pool, a friend of his noticed the special “kick” in the legs when the bogus frog was jerked and the way those appendages folded back up, just like a frog.
With its paddle-shaped feet it can be buzzed across the surfaced to trigger strikes. Or it can be worked subsurface to look like a swimming frog. Its action can be seen on an impressive video at www.facebook.com/pg/CajunLures/videos.
Colors include Toledo Toad (watermelton red/pearl), Bullfrog (green pumpkin/chartreuse), watermelon/red, green pumpkin and black.
“I designed it for a 3/0 or 4/0 regular wide gap hook,” he said, adding that the screw-lock type double hook also works effectively on the Cooyon Croaker.
For more information on the Cooyon Croaker and other Cajun Lures go to cajunlures.com or call (337) 652-1322.