The Shad-Quack Story

Formal fishing w/Steve

How to take an idea from concept to profitability. 

The “Shad-Quack” Story


Entrepreneurship has always fascinated me-especially when the opportunity/ idea works out. The Shad Quack worked out.


In the mid 1980’s A fishing lure series , made by Rapala, called the Shad Rap, became a “hot” product.  It was catching fish (and still does) and the demand outstripped the supply.. This made it even hotter and hard to get.

A bait shop/tackle retailer friend of mine would even make the 3 hour drive to some stores in South Dakota to buy them at retail. He would then resell them at a premium in central Minnesota.

"Loon" Shad-Quack

“Loon” Shad-Quack

Because I was an avid fisherman and and always looking for new product ideas–a novelty fishing lure  idea was “hatched”  The “Shad Quack”.


You wouldn’t believe the fun my business partner, my brother and myself had making up the design.  We finally decided on 4″ flying duck that would include 2 treble hooks and would skim across the top of the water surface.

The “Shad Quack would be painted in two designs.  The Mallard duck and the Minnesota state bird: the Common Loon.

We quickly found a a manufacturer to produce the plastic body, as well as a  company  that hired retirees to take of the assembly. My brother  designed a header for the card stock backing for the bubble pack.

A fictional fisherman character was created and I wrote a story for the back of the

Virgil Casting the Shad-Quack

Virgil Casting the Shad-Quack

display card.  “Virgil Waterwacker” became the premier cartoon fisherman of Minnesota.

Turns out Virgil could really fish. for customers  He could really SELL Shad Quacks!

We had timed our production they were available just as the Minnesota state fishing opener arrived in mid May.  A million sportsmen would be hitting the lakes.


A major radio station in  Minneapolis had a very popular morning show at the time.  One of the hosts loved fishing and talked about the sport all the time, especially just the season was about to get started.

I sent him a couple of samples and he read the ” Virgil Waterwacker” story on the air.  Good old fashioned publicity. A half a million “listens” for free.

The stores called.  We shipped.  I called more stores.  We shipped. And then the BIG Gun came calling.

One of the first production sample I had was overnighted to BASS PRO Shops. At the time, they were the biggest player in the fishing industry and they still are a  top retailer.

They thought it was hilarious and brought both designs into the mail order catalogue and stores. You couldn’t have asked for anything more.

The Shad-Quack sold well for a couple of years and gradually sales dwindled. Eventually we stopped production, but not before good run and a lot of fun.

I was just 25 at the time. Many more new products would follow.  Not all were “hits”  Many were.

What was really interesting were the stories of how the Shad-Quack” was conceived and created.  Lots of fabrications. Lots of people taking credit. This is the REEL story.

This was one of the first times the Three P’s of Entrepreneurship paid off for me.  Passion.  Persistence. Perseverance.  

Remember these terms.  They work.



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