The art of lures: Bob Peal finds his artistic and very human outlet in making custom lures

Bob Peal found his artistic expression and a way of giving in the making of custom lures.

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The most popular custom lure by Bob Peal. Provided photo

The most popular custom lure by Bob Peal.

Provided

I leaned in last Saturday as Bob Peal explained a uniquely blue crankbait to Fulton Foreman at the Fish & Hook Show.

Peal said an angler had asked to “match the hatch” on a blueish crayfish from the Des Plaines River.

“Because it was odd and different, an odd color, that is why I did it,” Peal explained. “I had to mix a couple colors. I sold 25-30, just because they were different.”

Ninety percent of Peal’s painting for his BPF Lures is airbrush; about 10 percent, hand painting.

“I have matched some fish from Australia,” he said. “I have a customer from there. I don’t even remember what the fish is called, but he was really pleased.”

When I asked Foreman, who came from Lansing, what drew him, he said, “the uniqueness and the colors, the creativity. He is making me spend money. They’re gorgeous. I have to beat it out of here, otherwise I am going to keep buying.”

Bob Peal at his BPF Lures table at the Fish & Hook Show with customer Fulton Foreman. Credit: Dale Bowman

Bob Peal at his BPF Lures table at the Fish & Hook Show with customer Fulton Foreman.

Dale Bowman

The relatively low prices surprised me.

“It is deliberate,” Peal said. “This is not my full-time job. I want to be affordable to the everyday fisherman and I want them to have something that is unique and affordable.”

Peal, of Crest Hill, works in recycling, converting used cooking oil from restaurants to bio-diesel and jet fuel.

“I am big on protecting our environment and fishing,” he said.

Peal’s custom lures are gorgeous enough I couldn’t imagine fishing them. Peal had thoughts on that.

“We purchase and buy things for a purpose,” he said. “The purpose of that is to be used to catch fish. The big fish on your wall, that is the trophy. But I have painted stuff for people to look at and mount on wall.”

His favorites are rare baits for the wall.

One of Bob Peal’s favorite custom lures (and custom message) is a rare one intended for wall-hanging rather than fishing. Provided photo

One of Bob Peal’s favorite custom lures (and custom message) is a rare one intended for wall-hanging rather than fishing.

Provided

One was for a woman recovering from addiction.

The 4 1/2-inch jointed swimbait has two distinct sides: one primarily black and white with words of addiction; the other is vibrant colors-”yellows, blues, bright colors, reds, oranges”—and encouraging, joyful words.

“It is like Jekyll and Hyde,” Peal said.

His other favorite is an 8-inch jointed swimbait like a trout for a young man who passed.

“Those are two that will hang on walls,” he said.

His most popular baits are for bass, but he does muskie and other big baits.

Peal, who fished since he could walk, learned from his father Mark. But Peal has a flaw for somebody living here.

“The reason I started? I don’t like the cold weather,” he said. “It became a business I never expected. It morphed into some extremely detailed different styles of lure painting. Reality is that my goal is to paint things you can’t find in the big-box store.”

What keeps him going now is different.

“The connections I make with people, that is a huge thing for me,” he said. “A lot of my customers are now my friends. And it builds the fishing community.”

Peal has no background in art.

“I discovered I could do art through lure making,” he said. “Lure making showed me I could be creative and do something different.”

His most popular bait is a 4-inch swimbait, a dead-eye shad. The twist is the eye, a solid black, and the back is more purplish than black.

“Everybody does black, I have a custom paint that I use just to be different,” he said. “The point is to be different than what you find at Bass Pro or Walmart or wherever you go.”

Information is at bpflures.com or the BPF Lures Facebook page.

A custom lure “matching the hatch” of a blueish crayfish on the Des Plaines River. Provided photo

A custom lure “matching the hatch” of a blueish crayfish on the Des Plaines River.

Provided

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