Issue: July/August 2013
Karl Beitzel’s patent-pending knotless fishing hook design promises to reel in revenue for Canton-based Jack Hooks.
Stash Karandanis has been fishing for 33 years, so the owner of Tackle Grab, a subscription-based business that supplies anglers with a monthly grab bag of gear, was skeptical of Canton native Karl Beitzel’s knotless fishing hooks.
“I was hesitant about how reliable and strong a knotless hook can be,” explains Karandanis, who is always on the lookout for new and innovative products. “You just think it’s going to slip, or it’s going to pull.”
Karandanis took some samples Beitzel sent him to a few lakes in Massachusetts he regularly fishes and wound up catching several small and largemouth bass, ranging from 1 to 4 pounds. So Tackle Grab, which was featured in Field & Stream’s 2012 holiday wish list, sent out 400 packs of hooks in its May subscription box.
“We didn’t get one piece of negative feedback,” Karandanis says. “[Customers] thought it was cool and enjoyed getting something so unique.”
The cornerstone of Beitzel’s patent-pending knotless hook system is a series of notches that lets fisherman quickly wrap the end of their line around the top of the hook, providing a fast and strong tether.
Beitzel, a self-described artist at heart, designed trade show booths at Communication Exhibits in Canal Fulton and says he spent time in Las Vegas designing sets and enclosures for Siegfried and Roy before returning to Ohio when a family member fell ill.
A few years later, while working at Design Dynamics, a medical device design firm in Hudson, he was the sole designer on a project to build a tool used in ocular surgeries. When the firm’s engineering department told him they didn’t want to tie knots with the high-grade fishing wire used inside the mechanism, Beitzel set out to find a solution.
He developed a wrapping technique using a laser-cut stainless steel S-shape that created enough tension to prevent slack from forming in the line. Once he had finished that project, Beitzel realized he could apply a similar idea to fishing hooks.
Beitzel has the hooks laser-cut, and because any design he can draw can be laser-cut, he’s able to craft features not possible on traditional bent-wire versions.
“I can vary the geometry and make a sharper point,” he says. “I can make barbs that aren’t cut in, they grow out of the shape and aren’t weakening.”
He officially launched Jack Hooks at the world’s largest fishing convention, the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades 2011 in Las Vegas.
Soon after, he was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Canton Entrepreneur Launch. He worked with Victor Pavona, director of small business development at Kent State University at Stark, to help him get organized.
“I’ve been the creative side of things,” Beitzel says. “I knew I was able to create products that had mass appeal, and all I needed was a good salesperson and I am set.”
Beitzel is now behind booths like those he used to create, showing off Jack Hooks at trade shows, including the Cleveland Outdoor Adventure Show and the Bassmaster Classic Expo in New Orleans.
At every show, he asks kids if they tie their own knots — usually the parents chime in and cop to having to do the job. So he lets the little kids try “not tying” lines to the ends of Jack Hooks.
If they can, they get a sticker, free hooks and their picture on the Jack Hooks Facebook page.
“They hold up their hook and the decal, and they walk away proud as can be,” Beitzel says. “That’s the best part of the trade shows.”
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