Ruston, Louisiana is a traditional small-town U.S.A. with one of the finest and most innovative hubs of technical education in the south. A “Mainstreet” community, Ruston is a charming town known for its peaches, hospitality, and of course being the home of Louisiana Tech University. Located just a short drive from popular fishing destinations like Caney, Lake D’Arbonne, Lake Claiborne, and many smaller hidden gems, Ruston is also home to another hub of innovation in the fishing community.
For most anglers, when they need their plastic lures re-stocked they hop online, or check out a big box store fishing isle. However, most of our readers I am sure also check with some of the many outstanding custom and regional market brand lures we have covered in prior editions. If you are one of those that support the small guys, odds are you’ve also supported this company as well. ULTRA MOLDS is a name that many anglers aren’t familiar with, but a name many bait makers know and love. A proud Louisiana based business for nearly 20 years, ULTRA MOLDS, much like LA Tech, is also a hub for innovation, in the fishing industry.
Pioneering many of the technologies that are now commonplace in bait making, ULTRA MOLDS has been a clear leader in the industry elevating hobbyist bait makers and growing seasoned bait makers into production pros. Odds are if you have fished a Louisiana made soft plastic, particularly a custom bait makers product, you have very likely fished a lure made with an ULTRA MOLDS product. Like so much in the fishing industry over the past couple of years, ULTRA MOLDS is also experiencing explosive growth. ULTRA MOLDS co-owner and chief production man Rupert Jenkins says “over the last two years we have grown by over 100% per year.” What started as a two-man operation with Rupert making the components and building them as orders came in, has now developed a 20+ order waiting list for their popular “Shooting Star” system, with a growing group to handle the load.
November 2020, Volume 119
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The Shooting Star is for hobby and custom hand injection bait making what the deep fryer is for McDonald’s, a make or break life saver. The Shooting Star is a one stop shop for preparing the soft plastic for injection into molds that form the many soft plastic lures you fish. The basics of luremaking include coloring and adding flake or glitter, stirring, heating the plastic to a set “cook-off” temperature that changes the liquid plastic into a gel that will set into a solid, and injecting that into a formed mold. This is typically done in small batches, with repetitive heating and cleaning of injectors that takes a ton of time (so thank your custom bait maker for tons of time spent next time you get an order). The Shooting Star takes the repetitive re-heating and injector cleaning time out of the process, and more. This enables a much higher rate of production for hand injectors.
So just how did ULTRA MOLDS come to be one of the top names in bait making from Ruston, LA? According to Rupert, his father-in-law, Mr. Archer, started things off before there was ULTRA MOLDS with balsa floats out of the U.K. As demand grew for his product in America, his company was moved to Florida. Eventually he relocated to another market area in north Louisiana for another company. About ten years ago Rupert’s wife (Mr. Archer’s daughter) began making more and more trips across the pond to visit, bringing Rupert along. Mr. Archer’s son David located at Louisiana Tech, anchored them to Ruston, LA. Rupert being English, bought into the company and took up residence stateside, and has been a driving force for the company ever since alongside Mr. Archer’s son David. Together, the two have taken a specialty company that used to supply only big name manufacturers with molds, components, and injection equipment, to a household name for bait makers across the nation, and even across the globe. If you run in the bait making circles on social media, it’s a very popular hobby in areas like Australia, the U.K., Eastern Europe, Japan and growing more by the day. The ULTRA MOLDS name is recognized and even has market share in these areas as well. For instance, ULTRA MOLDS is very likely the number one manufacturer for the Australian market from Ruston, Louisiana.
With the continued growth and high demands for molds, Shooting Stars, and their commercial injection machine known as “The Big Blue” ULTRA MOLDS is currently enduring the growing pains of many custom hand injection bait makers before they get their hands on ULTRA MOLDS products. If you want a “Big Blue” get ready for a 16+ month wait. A Shooting Star? 6+ months. A mold or some other minor component? Maybe a month. Why the waits? Well as we mentioned the demand has exploded. But ULTRA MOLDS also makes not just their products, but also manufactures in-house many of the key components of their equipment from scratch. This ensures quality products from the ground up go out the door to your bait makers. This also presents strained workflow under high demands, even for a innovation leader in the industry. Nonetheless, it is this attention to detail and drive that keeps ULTRA MOLDS growing.
Their continued growth means your baits will likely carry the same attention to detail driven by the passion shared across the bait making industry. It’s this passion the gets Rupert up in the morning with the goal to “make ULTRA MOLDS “the number one manufacturer of custom machines and molds in the U.S., because if [they’re] number one in the U.S. [they’re] number one in the world.” Quite a sentiment coming from an immigrant businessman who has truly taken up the Louisiana life.
For you bait makers, we don’t have to tell you more about ULTRA MOLDS, but if you are interested in something not on the market, something custom, don’t count out ULTRA MOLDS to bring just that to the table for you. For you anglers that buy from the custom guys, this means more catches on unique baits to make your time on the water more productive.
ULTRA MOLDS is a shining example that proves our point, that the bass fishing industry in Louisiana is truly unmatched anywhere in the world. So grab some custom baits, hit some Louisiana waters, and Geaux Bassin’!
Rupert shows us one of the many custom made production molds for "The Big Blue" they've manufactured in-house.
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The before and after of the Shooting Star faceplate that is cut out on a plasma table and engraved in a CNC machine. Just one of the many components made in-house for the ULTRA MOLDS Shooting Star system.
Half owner and lead production man Rupert Jenkins shows off some aluminum stock bar used as raw materials for some of the products manufactured by ULTRA MOLDS.
Innovation incarnate and the holy grail for hand injection bait makers, the Shooting Star has ULTRA MOLDS leading the niche market and serving over 20 countries worldwide.
The man, the myth, the legend, "The Big Blue" represents the cutting edge in professional injection bait making. This system is customizable to shoot up to three colors in various modes and is capable of making over 6,000 baits a day!
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