North Bar Bottle Darters

A little disturbing news while we waiting for the new issue of the SJ Magazine.

We know that plug buying/selling has reached crescendo last few weeks and in fact its probably slacking off now that everyone turned their attention to fishing and better weather. All it takes is few warm days in the spring for most guys to forget about buying plugs and start thinking about where to make first few casts of the spring.

Although the few plug builders that make lures only for winter shows have closed their shops the standbys that most of us fish with, the Super Strikes or North Bar lures continue their production so that you can find them on your local store shelf when you need them.

I always admired Larry’s Welcome resolve, financial and emotional , to invest in this (fairly small) sport via his North Bar line of bottle darters. To first design the lure and then to go through countless plastic prototypes and finally to invest a sizable chuck of change into making a mold cant be easy. I mean, the guy has one good product but its still only one product! I know that he always have things in his head that he wants to bring to the market but you can understand that this takes a considerable resources. From what he told me he never took one dime out of North Bar line but reinvested everything back into the business. And yes, because his lures are 100% made here is USA they are priced at slight premium over similar lures.

So it came as a shock to me when i heard that his bottle darer was copied to the “T” by someone and sold as Darting Swimmer under Capt’ Bill Custom Tackle brand. From what I understand there were offered for retail sale at RISAA at price that is UNDER his actual production cost! I am not a hypocrite and I am definitely not  a huge “buy  USA’”  guy as i am typing this on the phone made in China while sitting in truck with 90% of parts from Mexico while wearing a underwear made in Bangladesh. (too much info ? lol)

And I understand  that although these lure builders , be that Gibbs, North Bar, SS are not protected by patents, that does not make it ok to make copies out of inferior material abroad and them peddle them to fisherman and stores as their own. I would be furious and i know Tommy loses his shit every time he feels his artwork is being copied. I am ok with anyone coming out with their OWN VERSION of whatever but to copy another’s man work is just wrong. I have not seen these in person and all i can go by is pictures I was sent but  to me it looks like a pure copy (and was told by a third party that resemblance is ridiculously identical)

I  am staying away from these plugs until i can more info and I suggest you do your own due diligence. I can only give you info that I have.I still cant believe that other dude is selling copies of SS needles as if its no big deal, now we got this. The fishing world is losing all sense of ethics


25 comments on “North Bar Bottle Darters

  1. John B

    Not only has that company copied the northward darter, they also copied the Stillwater Smack-It popper. I saw them for sale in one of the booths at the Somerset Saltwater show,along with the bottle darter copies. Both looked to be exact replicas.

  2. jimmy z

    One more thing. Folks who want NB plugs will buy them. Something usually fails on a copycat plug. We all know this. I wouldn’t worry

  3. Ron McKee

    Yes this does make it har for the small plug maker ,plastic or wood. Many of these copies have a box they come in from China or Tiwan. Several yrs ago at the RISSA show custom wood plugs from China were for sale for $5. Most custom plug builders put 25 to 30 plus steps in each plug plus a boat load of time working the bugs out of them. So thats less than the materials we put in our plugs let alone the time spent on them. Cotton Cordell went through this when storm copied their Pencil poppers. There are some similarities in custom plugs like pencils,dannys,needles,swimmers an so on the difference is inside where you don’tt see the tinkering to make them work the way the builder fishes. That TLC an Tinkering is where the value of custom plugs comes in. The hard part for most anglers is the depth of their wallet controls a part of their loyalty. As a builder like most out there we work very hard to keep the quality of what we sell for those buying them. Trust me that is not easy. Just remember this . American made is American fished. We don’t have time to make what doesn’t work as we use them ourselves. Thanks for your support Zeno. Ron AKA Striper Maine-iac

  4. Mike Campanelli

    That plug looks like it came from the original mold? Holding a original plug up to the computer screen, there is not a single difference? Was the mold copied, when it was first made or are bodies being pumped out in the middle of the night?

  5. Gary Carlson

    If I were North Bar ( and I paid to have that mold made. Read that as ownership of the tooling and/or mold !!) I would be in the face of the people who are doing the casting and ask why they were selling the blanks off my mold to someone else.

    Now there may be an agreement where NB didn’t pay for the molds and the maker of the mold has some rights to it and to cast a product from it. (read the fine print)

    1. Bryan Baron

      They do not need the original moulds to copy them. All that is required is a original. they can then 3D scan this for making the mould. The plastics can easily be identified by chemical analysis. The problem comes with quality control as there workforce are not working for there reputation but to reach there quota to earn their bonus. Two things i would remember are Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and that they will be gone in a year or two at most. Moved on to the next big thing.

    2. Rob

      These are NOT from nothbars molds. Northbars molds are made by the same US company that makes the lure bodies. The lures were 3D scanned and the design was stolen and produced overseas.

  6. Larry Welcome

    Thanks Zeno for your kind words and support of not only me and my products, but for all the others who’ve gone through this and have thrived due to the loyalty and ethics of the vast majority of surfcasters and sport fishermen…and a big thank you to those of you who have responded to Zeno’s words so positively as well, ~~LW~~

  7. RHT

    All I can add, is that I enjoy buying from the custom guys. It seems like I have a plug from almost all of them. I got a couple of the Sporting Wood NB at one of the shows. There is no substitute for talking to the guys that did all the R&D and manufacture. It’s good to have information that some people are trying to make knockoffs so that we can stay away.

  8. Plug Chucker

    Yes, Buyers BEWARE and consider yourself WARNED!
    Both The Stillwater Lures Smack It Poppers and the North Bar Darters are being copied and these copy cat lures are being produced in China. The Smack Its and the NB Darts are both made in the USA and are the ORIGINAL designs which are far superior to these cheap knock offs! I’ve compared both and the copy cats are inferior on all accounts- quality of painting, hardware, hooks and plastic composition are a much lesser quality(big surprise from China). The copy cats do not and will not hold up like the Smack Its or Darters. The actions and performance of the lures are different as well. I will stick with the originals who are time tested and have the reputation of not only being very durable and dependable but who we can trust to put fish in the boat and on the beaches season after season! Here’s something else to consider- both Still Water Lures and North Bar have good customer service and do there entire manufacturing right here in the USA! We need more lure manufacturers who can say the same thing.
    Someone can correct me if I’m wrong but to my understanding these knock off lures are being sold under the name “Captain Bills Lures” who is owned by Offshore Sport Fishing Inc. out of Brooklyn NY. This guy is responsible for taking the designs of others and copying them exactly, then producing them in a far inferior manner and then selling them at fishing shows and expos in the north east. I know for a fact that people have purchased what they thought were Smack Its or NB Darters only to find out later that they’ve been had! This is all around bad business in my opinion. Bad for the fishermen buying the lures and bad for Stillwater and North Bar. This guy is degrading the reputation of the Smack It Poppers and North Bar Darters by what he is doing and its not only a shame but just not right!
    I for one will be supporting and spending my money with Stillwater and North Bar who are both stand up companies and offer products I know I can trust. I will not be buying or purchasing anything with the name “Captain Bills” on it…….

  9. Paul T.

    Larry puts a lot of time and work into his plugs.You get a great plug as a result of this,you get what you pay for in the end.

  10. tomhiggins72

    with regards to lure building, it has all been done before. SS ripped off Gibbs on almost ever idea he had. now ss are fetching big $$$ and Stans originals are 40$ at best. But I would agree that an exact copy put into mass
    production is in poor taste.

  11. Bill Jakob

    I’d have to also recommend letting any tackle store you frequent, that is selling these knock offs,
    1 you will not be buying them ever
    2 you feel he shouldn’t be selling them
    3 if he doesn’t feel he should stop and remove them from the store, that there are plenty
    Of other stores you can do business with.

    If we condone these rip off experts that’s all we will have left. The visionary will be no more

    Bill Jakob

  12. Elias Vaisberg

    Anyone that makes any sort of product knows this is an issue. While most will not copy it to exact tee if you need help mass producing and the only way you can feasibly do it is bring product to China, they will copy. It happens to GoPro, Keurig, and all of us little guys. I made my first batch of soft plastics in the United States. If someone decides to grab my mold and drop 100k on plastics to under cut me, it’s a reality of this game.

  13. joseph ganun

    Why can’t plug builders patent their designs ? I don’t get it.
    You would think that Capt. Bill, who ever that is, would have enough pride in his plug(s) to build them with some improvement to flog when he sells them. Improvement being very subjective of course.

  14. Leif Gobel

    As previously mentioned. If you find any tackle stores that you frequent selling these ripoffs please let them know they will lose you as a customer if they don’t stop selling this product. I still see Manhattan Tackle at some shows and he’s still selling his fake SS Needlefish plugs. Thankfully word got out there and haven’t seen any Manhattan Tackle crap in the B&T stores I buy from. We need to support the original builders and their superior products.


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