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Frank Johnson Remembered As Fishing-Industry Pioneer

Sport-fishing legend died Sept. 26

September 28, 2016
Frank Johnson fishing in Panama
Frank Johnson, a legendary lure maker and one of the original partners of Mold Craft Products, died Monday, Sept. 26. Courtesy Frank Johnson III

Frank Johnson, a well-known lure maker and innovator in the sport-fishing industry, died Monday, Sept. 26, at the age of 77 after an illness.

Johnson helped begin a lures company, Mold Craft Products, based in Pompano Beach, Florida, that created soft-plastic trolling lures for catching marlin. Those lures have set more than 200 International Game Fish Association records, including the all-tackle Atlantic blue marlin of 1,402 pounds, according to a report from the Sun-Sentinel.

His son, Frank Johnson III, says the family is establishing an artificial reef fund in Johnson’s name for a reef off Hillsborough Inlet.

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“Please do not be sad for Poppa,” says Johnson III. “He was a great man with so many friends and accomplishments. He was one of the few people that could say that their bucket list was pretty much empty. He traveled extensively and did pretty much what he wanted to do when he wanted to.”

soft head lure from Mold Craft
Frank Johnson became famous for his innovative Mold Craft lures. Alex Suescun

Johnson and his son expanded the Mold Craft Products company, which Johnson became a partner of in 1973, and began producing shooting targets and plastic rod butts, among other innovations. The soft plastic lures began in one size, two styles and only in solid colors. Now, Johnson III says, the line includes six sizes and more than a dozen styles, offering anglers a wide range of customizable combinations.

Johnson participated in the development of Broward County’s artificial-reef program, consulted with the development of The Billfish Foundation’s tag-and-release program and helped develop kite-fishing innovations, according to his son. He also contributed $10,000 to the IGFA’s Junior Angler Exhibit, according to the Sun-Sentinel, and was a supporter of the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo.

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