A Lifetime of Lures: Al Gag
“I was poor, no other way to put it,” says Albert “Al Gag” Gagliarducci, who has been making affordable, reliable and effective lures in central Massachusetts for nearly 50 years. “I started making shad darts out of turkey quills and feathers so I didn’t have to buy them.”
Al progressed to pouring jigs, which turned out to be something special. “Those jigs caught fish when nothing else would. Word got out, and demand was immediate,” says Gagliarducci. “At one point I sold a million in one year.”
Wood plugs for striped bass were next, including some of the first through-wired needlefish, which became famous in places such as Block Island. Those needles are still being built by 24/7 Lures. Forty years later, they’re just as popular.
“The most rewarding feeling is when a kid tells me they caught their first fish on my lure. I do this for them.”
A New Way to Fly: Ben Whalley
Ben Whalley is one of the most innovative new saltwater fly-tiers, famous for the size of his visually striking, highly effective flies. While many anglers consider a 6-inch-long fly big, Whalley’s are often twice that.
Whalley grew up in Brazil fishing for pacu and largemouth bass with his family. They moved back to the States when he was a teenager. After a short stint in Florida, he found his way to Maine—first for college, and then as a biochemist. He fell in love with stripers, built a successful guiding business, and made the jump to full time in 2021.
“Many fishermen drag crabs on sinking lines in Maine, or toss small deceivers,” Whalley says. “But the spin-fishermen who target big bait using very large lures catch a lot of quality fish. I knew there had to be a way that fly anglers could do that too.”
He researched options and found Bob Popovics’ Hollow Fleyes. Soon Whalley was creating incredibly large mackerel, menhaden and herring flies based on Popovic’s philosophies. “They worked right away, and we had some awesome tides with 40- to 50-inch fish from shore.”
These flies followed him onto the skiff, his clients took note, and word quickly spread.