We lost a big and great bassin’ man today: Ed Chambers, pictured there with his daughter. You could call him great for founding Zoom Bait Co. cuz that’s gotta be THE best-known and most influential soft-plastic bait company ever. But that wouldn’t do him justice, man. Because like so many good folks on the biz side of bassin’, the dude helped a ton of people. Here’s just a few of ’em:
Gerald Swindle: “Man, words can’t explain how big a part of my career that Ed Chambers played.” [G has been sponsored by Zoom for 25 years.]
Wes Strader: “From my earliest days, Ed always treated me with the utmost respect. Just a great guy. Nothing bad you can say about him. Always been generous to me — it’s a really sad day. He affected so many people’s lives by the great baits he made and the person that he was.”
Brandon Palaniuk: “Today we lost a good one. Not only was Ed one of the biggest leaders in soft-plastic innovation, but a leader in life. I think that both of those were equally important in the success of Zoom.”
David Fritts: “I think it’s a shock to everybody. Ed Chambers was one of the most innovative tackle designers that’s ever been. He knew what it took to make things work, from crankbaits all the way to soft-plastics — actually everything. He helped me design the Scorpion hook that VMC made — he was just so innovative. I’ve never sat with anybody who tinkered and played like that. How he got things right before they ever came out…he was a true innovator, not a copier.
“The man was something else. I sat down with him for days at a time working on crankbaits…he was a perfectionist. Colors had to be right, and he was able to produce them — way back when that was hard to do. He’s someone who’s really going to be missed in this industry. It’s a pretty sad day.” [Fritts was with Zoom for 17 years.]
Peter Thliveros: “He obviously revolutionized the industry and was at the forefront…. He was the behind-the-scenes guy. No matter who was running [Zoom], he had the final word on pretty much everything there. That was an amazing thing about him — with everything he did in the industry, he was behind the scenes. He never wanted the limelight. It was the company first and him second. The main thing to me was how private he was — his private life meant more to him than anything else.
“I spent a lot of time with him when he fished FLW as a co-angler. He just enjoyed being on the water, learning and teaching and fishing — he just had a ball. The bait business was kind of a fun thing for him, what he enjoyed doing. Every hard bait that went out of that shop, every single one, he hand-painted himself.
“He did as much helping other people fix problems as his own stuff. He never took any of the glory, he just did it. He was a unique individual in this industry.”
Kevin Short: “The everyday bass fisherman has no concept of all Ed Chambers did for the tackle business and the entire fishing industry. He was just one of those giants that walked softly and carried a big stick. A guy who’s that good a friend…there’s a hole in the fishing industry because of his passing. And there’s just nobody big enough to fill that hole.” [Believe Kevin knew Ed ’bout as good as anyone.]
Terry Brown of Wired2Fish: “Ed was in a class by himself. He had a knack of figuring out the little things that made fish bite, first in plastics and later with his WEC crankbaits. Truly sad to see another great innovator passing. I loved that man and he will be missed dearly.”
Ed developed Zoom baits and also WEC cranks, which are well-known, not-so-secret handmade (by him) cranks:
> K-Pink on Zoom: “Their stuff works everywhere and always has. And none of it’s outrageously expense. It’s always been priced as a good value fo what you got because that’s the way [Chambers] wanted to do it.
> “I don’t know if I’ve ever met anybody as detail-oriented or as meticulous as he was, whether it was the number of of bumps on a Z Hog or way eyes were dotted on a crankbait. It had to be a certain way or it wasn’t good enough. That was all Ed Chambers.”
Ed also helped other companies — some of which could be considered competitors — because that was the kinda guy he was. K-Pink again:
> “He had people calling him about input on boat design, rod and reel design — some of the innovations Lew Childre [Lew’s founder] came up with were from conversations with Ed Chambers. His influence can’t be overstated.”
Ed might be the only major person on the biz side of bassin’ I never really knew. Not really sure why, just our paths didn’t cross. So my only thoughts are from the outside looking in and might be obvious but:
> I don’t think the guy created a bad bait. Seriously, that’s pretty dang amazing considering how many he did create. And I, like literally millions of other bass-heads, caught and still catch fish on those baits.
> I always thought the Zoom logo was one of the most genius biz moves in bassin’. You can read it a mile away, and when those logos started popping up on a bunch of the old Bassmaster Top 100 guys — while Ed was giving them a ton of free baits — I thought: This guy knows how to do it.
He sure did. Bless you bassin’ brother.
Couple thangs from a cool piece on Zoom by Wired2Scout:
> “We were studying all the packaging out at the time,” Chambers said. “Everything was black and white, blue and white or green and white. So I wanted something that stood out…. What I noticed was when it was 50 or 100 yards up the road, you could always recognize a McDonald’s fry cup lying on the side of the road, just from its colors. It really stood out.”
That’s such a hilarious bassin’ story I wanna cry laughing — a McDonald’s cup on the side of the road hahaha! And:
> “The boy who made the molds for us, his last name was Zimmerman, but everyone around here just called him ‘Zoom.’ After the first worms were poured someone asked who made those, and they said, ‘Those are those worms from Zoom.’ Of course they meant the guy that made the molds, but we liked it and kept it.”