As most everyone knows, longtime tackle designer and professional angler, Lonnie Stanley, passed away August 20, 2021. Lonnie Stanley changed the bass fishing industry through his tackle company by creating baits such as the original Stanley Jig, Stanley Wedge and Vibra Shaft Spinnerbaits and more recently, the Stanley Ribbit.
Lonnie Stanley got into the bait business by chance. From making jigs in his kitchen for he and his friends, word of mouth got around and he received a large order, 50 dozen, of jigs to be delivered at a local tournament. Stanley was entered in the event but had spent every penny he had fulfilling the order. When the buyer didn’t show up, Stanley was stuck with no money to put gas in his boat for the event.
With no gas money and only 2 gallons of petrol in his tank, Stanley did the only thing he could do. Fish close to the launch ramp.
Evidently no one knew of the volume of bass near the ramp and as it goes, Stanley not only won the event, but the $10,000 1st-place check to go with it. That bit of money is what helped Stanley quit his fulltime job as a heavy equipment operator and move his business from the kitchen to small building.
Stanley Lures was born in 1979.
Lonnie Stanley wasn’t just a jig maker, though. He got into the lure-making business because initially he couldn’t afford the cost of jigs. Prior to Stanley Lures, he was a terror on the local southeast Texas tournament trails and it was that reputation that drove his success in tackle making.
By 1987 Lonnie Stanley had qualified for three Bassmaster Classics and his tackle business had exploded. That same year Stanley entered the B.A.S.S. Megabucks event on the Harris Chain of Lakes, FL. After the dust had settled, he’d won the $108,000 purse and his legend was cemented in Bassmaster history. Stanley went on to win another Bassmaster event at Sam Rayburn in 1997 and quit the professional ranks in 2002 to concentrate on his tackle company.
Over the past 42 years, Lonnie Stanley has touched the bass fishing industry in ways few other have. His fishing prowess and ability to improve baits based on his and others on-the-water experience were second to none. He was a pillar of the industry. An exceptional angler, man and human. There’s a vacuum where he once stood that will be hard to fill.
Lonnie Stanley, thank you for your many contributions to our sport and for showing us what dreams can be achieved from your humble kitchen.