His first pattern was a suspending juvenile rainbow trout, created through an 18-step process involving nine different colors applied both with an airbrush and by hand. The sculpin pattern became his biggest challenge.
“There was nothing on the market painted like a sculpin minnow,” Duane says. “The pattern features layers and layers of different colored dots of paint that build depth and realism to the lure. Each sculpin has about 28,000 dots on it.”
Narrowing the body style down to what worked best under Lake Taneycomo’s ever-changing conditions meant many hours on the lake testing different blanks. Determining the best hooks and split rings that correctly suspended each lure became the next step. This process lasted more than a year before he found four blanks that make up his lures.
Duane next decided to create angler’s portraits that would freeze special moments on wood. Using a CNC router, Duane carves a 3D model of a high-resolution photo into 20-by-30-inch boards. He spray-paints the panel and rubs parts of it with steel wool in order to bring out the details. He paints the fish in layers from light to dark, adding the finishing touches by hand.
“My carved and painted wooden panels combine my love of woodwork, art and the outdoors,” Duane says. “What I really like about these panels is they not only provide an accurate reproduction of your fish, but they capture a moment in time.”
Creating masterpieces is just a sideline for Duane. His true passion is fishing for trophy trout with his lures.
“I recently caught a brown well over 10 pounds,” Duane says. “I slipped it back in the lake and a young man watching nearby on the shore asked why I released that big fish? ‘So, you will have a chance to catch it someday.’ I think he liked that answer.”
Follow Ozark Trout Runners on Facebook or call Duane at 417-294-8672.
Kieser is a freelance writer from Kansas City.