Alex's Shorthand Life Story

Alex's Shorthand Life Story
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My Life in Fishing by Alex Langer

Born Free

I was born a fisherman. My parents were 1950s immigrants from post-war Europe. Before I ever spoke English, I was speaking German and Russian. When the nuns welcomed me into 1st grade at parochial school and gave me an IQ test, they promptly declared me mentally retarded. I couldn't understand the English language that the IQ test was written in! Thankfully, they didn't throw me out. I became fluent in English in just a few short months -- because I had to. God bless the Sisters of St. Joseph!

I was a Massachusetts kid who was consumed day and night with fishing of all kinds -- freshwater and saltwater. Massachusetts has world-class fishing, most of it saltwater. There'a also above-average freshwater angling, if you know the secret of where to look. To learn that secret, please read The Amazing Flying Lure Story in this website. Eventually fishing tournaments started for me at the tender age of 17. I remember placing 11th at my first tourney on Long Pond in Lakeville, MA on May 5, 1975. I caught the big bass on the first day, which my tournament partner to this day still claims cost him winning the tournament. My friend was about 4 pounds shy of victory. As I recall, my bass weighed about 5 1/2 pounds, so he may actually be right. I probably did cost him that tournament!

From the earliest time I began fishing, I was an inventor trying to devise new and better ways to catch fish. I remember building a current meter to measure flow on a river where we were having a tournament. I figured if I could measure the river’s flow at different depths, I could locate largemouths. In retrospect, it was probably a better device for finding catfish. The contraption was made from a coffee can, a propeller from a model airplane and an extension cord. It basically worked, but was unwieldy to use and was soundly ridiculed by my friends. On August 13, 1976 I won my first NBAA (Northern Bass Anglers Assn.) tournament. The $500 I won felt like a million dollars. I was rich! It was just a regional tournament, but I was 18 years old and everybody knew that I won, which was a lot more important than the money. I was on top of the world. Ah youth...

I was pouring different worms in plaster molds in my mom’s kitchen during that time. In the Summer of 1977 there was a regional NBAA tournament not far from home. Off I went. Little did I know that tournament during which I would catch no fish would change the course of my life.

Flying Lure History

It all started when I was fishing a tournament at Whitehall Reservoir, in Massachusetts of all places. Hopkinton, MA wasn't the epicenter of bass fishing then nor is it now. Got skunked for 2 straight days of fishing. The bass were hiding under floating islands, and I couldn’t get a lure under the islands by skipping a bait or crashing through the top.

So I cut up a Coke can, glued the pieces together, turned a jighead backwards and glued a plastic worm to it. It all sort of swam away from me, which is exactly what I was after. After that, I spent a decade perfecting the lure and getting it patented. Believe it or not, the world didn’t beat a path to my door when I first tried to sell the Flying Lure. It just hung on the wall in the stores that bought it, and in that package looked just like any other lure. Some stores actually sent the lures back because they didn’t sell! I tried that traditional route for 3 grueling years.

The TV Infomercial

Then In the spring of 1991, a guy named Jim Caldwell, a TV host from New York and infomercial producer, convinced me to meet with him. I was skeptical, but during that first meeting I was sold on the logic of presenting this lure on TV and telling my story directly to people. I liked that. I liked showing fellow anglers how the lure worked instead of just letting it sit there in a store. And if the infomercial succeeded, we could bypass all the doors that were closed to me, and tell our story right to the customer. I said, “Okay, let’s make an infomercial, but our way.” Real fishing shots, real user stories, real shots from the Hawg Trough, real-life fishing on TV – not some goofy contrived script with a cheering audience. Let’s put it all on TV! We went to National Media Corp., the world’s largest infomercial company. They took one look at the lure and loved the idea. They funded the TV production of the infomercial on the spot. And the rest is history.

More Than Just a Lure

The Flying Lure infomercial spoke directly to the non-fishing public as well as to anglers themselves. We ended up promoting fishing as a sport by showing how much fun it was. So it turned out, we weren’t just selling lures: We were selling fishing. The infomercial actually rekindled people’s desire to go fishing. Many folks reconnected with the outdoors and their family – I’m very proud of that.

The Impact

You wouldn’t believe – I didn’t either! – how many boat dealers thanked me in person for selling fishing boats for them. They said that their customers bought a box of Flying Lures and now needed a boat to go with it. How great is that?! The Flying Lure was the first time the sport of fishing reached any sort of mainstream awareness in mainstream media. Some say that fishing license sales rose in the years the Flying Lure infomercial was playing on TV. There’s no question the Flying Lure was “in your face” everywhere you went!

All that was just in the USA. In Europe, I couldn't get into a cab without getting recognized! That's how often the infomercial was playing in the UK, Germany, France and Scandinavia, never mind the east block. Those cabbies were were my people - anglers.

Some notable facts about the Flying Lure:

> Became the all-time best-selling lure in the world.

> The infomercial ran 300+ times per week on national and local TV – just in the USA. Even more worldwide.

> It spawned fishing magazine cover stories internationally.

> Flying Lure demand depleted the worldwide production capacity for some types of hooks.

> The infomercial was named by Advertising Age magazine “Winner, Best Commercial of Any Kind.” Supermodel Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi ad was voted No. 2, something David Letterman made nightly jokes about.

> Disney approached me to write a book and published “Flying Lure Fishing” – which is available now free as an updated e-book.

> Set the all-time daily sales record for a fishing lure: over $1 Million in 24 hours on the QVC shopping channel. (Alex appeared on QVC and the Home Shopping Network in the USA, Canada and Europe hundreds of times.)

> A popular Dutch rockabilly band actually named itself “The Flying Lures.”

Not bad for a Massachusetts kid crazy about fishing!