Story by Annetta Black • Photos by Dan O’Sullivan
headquarters of Revenge Baits is a picture of con- trolled chaos. Smoking leads are being poured up front, racks hold- ing jig heads waiting for paint are queued up outside the paint booth next to a work- bench cluttered with the newest designs and prototypes to be tinkered with. A paint drying booth salvaged from an old fire hose dryer takes up another corner. Over by the packaging contraption, three employees chat over the drone of an air compressor and the noises from the body shop next door as they assemble baits for current orders. Clipboards with a half dozen out- standing orders hang overhead. Tucked in back amid boxes and papers, and under photos of big fish caught on Revenge baits is the “office”, comprised of a computer and several desks buried under varying amounts of paperwork and miscellaneous lure parts.
builder, and took a stab at mixed martial arts fighting. But fishing has always been his passion. He would bring his gear along with him to competitions and classes, and fish while he was waiting for his start or for students to show up. On one occasion in Florida he missed a competition start - when they called his name, he was out back fishing. In 1988 he moved back to California, and spent the next several years working for a ski school. He also started what may be the most unusual part time gig in bait maker circles: for 10 years Moughalian made extra money at parties as a male stripper. He taught water skiing by day, worked parties at night, and tinkered with designing fishing lures in his spare time. The money from his day - and evening -
gigs made it possible for him to consider making a go of a business that reflected his true passion. In 1995 he made it official, starting a small company with a lineup of jig heads and spinnerbaits that he made himself. It began like a lot bait makers, by having a hard time finding exactly what he wanted in tackle stores. Small baits were cheap, and came with crappy hooks, or were inconsistent from bait to bait. Moughalian focused on designing his own small baits with more attention to detail. Getting started was the hard part. Finding basic parts and equipment was one thing, but specialized parts and knowl- edge were harder to come by. He had an understandably hard time prying valuable trade information out of other more estab-
Ray Moughalian is swamped.
Swamped is a good thing, and busi- ness has been steady and strong. It’s no small thing to compete against all of those companies cranking out jigs and spinner- baits by the hundred thousand. But here in this shop it is more about craftsmanship than about production volume, and that is what has made the difference. But it almost never was. Ten years ago he walked away from bait making without looking back and started looking for a dif- ferent career. A lifelong fisherman raised in South- ern California, Moughalian has had no shortage of colorful alternative careers. He started his professional life as a teenager when he started competing as a barefoot water skier and instructor, which took him to Florida. He also competed as a body-