By Joe Sills
Recently, my youngest son, Joe, was invited to visit the Westin Fishing headquarters in Denmark. Not Denmark, Tennessee, but THE Denmark, way across the ‘Big Pond” in Copenhagen.
Joe is Digital Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer, the premier manufacturer- to -retailer magazine in the fishing world. His job has taken him to places most of us only dream of, and those places often return baits and ideas that are less common in the U.S.
Upon his return Joe presented me with a variety of Westin lures, a brand that I had never heard of. I was very impressed with the extreme high quality of these exotic lures. From the paint to the designs, even the top quality hooks were of superior design and construction.
“People rightfully associate Japanese lures with high quality,” he told me, “but what we are less familiar with as Americans is Scandinavia. The most recognizable Scandinavian company in America might be IKEA, but that region has a long history of making excellent, technical products that require precision. In that mold, Westin fights right in with other regional brands like Volvo, Garmin and Nokia.”
My first reaction to the Westin baits was their size. These oversized lures will certainly appeal to those bass fishermen that are dedicated to catching quality bass and not necessarily numbers, even though we found that smaller bass will often attack prey as big as they are. One has to realize that Westin is located on the edge of the North Sea, directly east of the British Isles. It’s an area not known for bass of any specie. Their primary use has been in catching Pike, Zander, and other cold water sea creatures.
What started out as toys created for his children by Ingvar Westin has become one of Europe’s most popular lure companies. Little did Ingvar envision what his hand carved 1952 “toy” would amount to years later.
“They’re as ubiquitous in Europe as Strike King or Berkley is here at home,” my son said. “I’ve wandered into tackle stores in Sweden, France and even the old Eastern Bloc where they have racks of Westin Swim glidebaits.”
This is so similar to stories of early American lure makers such as James Heddon and Fred Arbogast and their hand made Lucky 13 and Jitterbug. Ingvar’s first “toy” was recognized by his fishing friends as a possible giant pike lure. It wiggled and rolled like a real fish, which he christened the “Jatte,” Swedish for Giant.
The Westin Jatte was born and so was a new fishing lure movement, the “Westin Roll.” It was found to be irresistible to giant pike due to its size and unique side to side swimming action. It wasn’t long before pike fishermen near his home in Skutskar were demanding more and more of the Jatte in a choice of colors. They used them in local rivers, lakes and the brackish waters of the nearby Baltic Sea. A 44-pound pike caught one of his lure, setting off a storm of demands that prompted a production line that is well known for quality and a wide variety of fishing lures. Smaller versions are now being produced for the bass fishermen.
Today, Westin offers a complete range of high quality lures for many species game fish. Last year their 8-inch Freddy the Frog wake bait took home top honors for a freshwater hard lure at ICAST. After a year of battle in the field, Westin followed that success up by debuting a smaller. 5-inch version of Freddy that’s designed specifically for bass. It’s one of their first forays into bass fishing, 52 years after Ingvar built a toy fish in his garage.
As for the rest of their lineup? A few weeks ago I found myself back on the water with my son. It’s a tradition three decades strong, and for probably two of those I’ve been at the front of the boat hauling in bass after bass with a floating worm. You know how kids are— impatient. Even at 30-plus years old, Joe doesn’t like to play the waiting game for bass. While I was up front with the worm, he was in the back throwing a Westin Swim. He caught a scoreable bass on the first cast. A few fish later, and I was asking him to borrow a bait.
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