Business student fishes for success with line of lures

By Cyndi Gurrola

When you have one of the most successful freshwater fishing
tackle companies in Southern California, everyone seems to give you
respect, even if you are only 24 years old.

Fifth-year business student Bryan Friedman is the man behind Lip
RipperZ, which has been the No. 1 line of trout lures in Southern
California for two straight years. The Walnut resident’s products
are small finesse lures – jigs, plastics and spoons – designed to
catch trout, crappie, other panfish and bass.

As with most fishing lures, Friedman’s creations began as
experiments in a garage – his parents’ garage, actually. That’s
where the first product in the line was born, the plastic trout
worms he later would call the Lip RipperZ Trout WormZ.

“I began after reading an article in a well-known fishing
magazine that taught you how to make your own plastic lures,” said
Friedman. “We started making them and fishing them for fun, and
next thing you know everyone on the lake wanted to know what they
were called and where they could buy them. Friedman started his
business in 2003, when he was just 19.

“I really thought nothing of it at the time, but as I entered
college I realized, not only did I have a passion for fishing, but
I had an even bigger passion for business,” said Friedman. “I took
a risk and incorporated both passions together, and next thing you
know, I’m into my first store.”

Eight months later, the Trout WormZ had already become one of
the most popular plastics sold in Southern California for trout and
panfish. Today, it’s hard to find an angler who hasn’t heard of Lip
RipperZ, and they are used wherever trout and panfish are caught.
The 3-inch worms now come in 13 different colors so anglers can
match a color to a water condition, imitate a natural food item or
simply cater to a fish’s – or angler’s – preference.

Friedman remembers the first time his products were used at one
of the local lakes.

“About 40 fish were caught on our products at Glen Helen Lake in
San Bernardino when we first launched,” said Friedman. “That was
the first time people expressed interest in the products and wanted
to know where they could find them and buy them. This was when I
realized I could turn them into something big.”

Friedman’s lure is growing, with the introduction of several new
products over the past two years including Mini RipperZ, followed
by Lit’l RipperZ and most recently, ‘Z’ spoons.

“The new lures are really working. [They] are some of the better
products I’ve seen around,” said Mike Hubbard, the assistant
general manager at Santa Ana River Lakes. “Their colors and the way
they move in the water make them work. I have quite a few people
catch fish on Lip RipperZ everyday.”

The newest lure is the ‘Z’ spoon, which is available in six
different colors and can be used by trollers or anglers casting
from shore. Each spoon has six holes, which causes it to have a
lazy swimming action in the water and ultimately a more fish-like
swimming appearance. The spoons have worked best for trout and
crappie.

Mini RipperZ are a version of the original lure. It is a small
plastic bait with a skinny, worm-like tail with a ball on the end.
This gives the bait a lot of action in the water every time the rod
tip is moved.

Lit’l RipperZ trout jigs expanded Friedman’s product line out of
just small plastic worms. The jigs come in two different sizes: the
1/32-ounce and the 1/16-ounce. Each is available in six different
colors. Each jig has a skinny tail, similar to Mini RipperZ, but
also wears a durable skirt that can help attract fish in moving
waters. The jig’s blood-red hook also helps attract the trout,
crappie, and other panfish that are the main quarry for Friedman’s
whole lure line.

There have already been quite a few large fish caught on
Friedman’s products since he first brought them to market. On any
given week, his trout worms and jigs are listed throughout fishing
reports, with literally hundreds of the rainbows caught at local
lakes landed on his bait, including a disproportionate number of
the biggest fish.

And now the newest bait is also starting to take off. In
December, Matt Thomas of Riverside caught a 19-pound rainbow trout
on the new ‘Z’ spoon at Santa Ana River Lakes.”Every time I use a
Lip RipperZ product, I seem to catch bigger and more fish. I’ve
caught at least 10 fish over 10 pounds,” said Thomas.

Friedman’s lures are currently sold in more than 115 different
tackle shops in the West, including Turner’s Outdoorsman and a host
of smaller tackle shops in Southern California. Most local marina
shops on lakes in this region also carry Friedman’s lures. And
Friedman’s goal of expanding his product line came true this year.
With the help of a manufacturer’s representative, Lip RipperZ are
now in all Big 5 Sporting Good stores.

“If everything goes as planned, were going to jump from a local
West Coast manufacturer to a dominate force all across the U.S. in
2008,” said Friedman with youthful confidence.

Friedman attributes the success of his business at such a young
age to his education in business and the connections he made
fishing as a youngster. Without even realizing it, he was
networking for a future business.

“I knew my business would be a success. I made the right
connections in the industry as a young child while enjoying my
passion for fishing,” said Friedman.

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