Living the Dream: Someday Isle Tackle

Someday Isle GarArticle Contributed by Managing Editor K. Slye.
Special thanks to Paul and Rich Hellmann of Someday Isle Tackle.

Like many hunters and anglers, the Hellmann brothers were introduced to the outdoors by their dad, Paul Sr.  Paul Jr. still remembers, when he was just a boy, going to local ponds almost every evening in the summer with his dad and brother Rich, pulling in the bluegill.  Paul and Rich’s dad was always saying “Someday we’ll get a boat, someday we’ll go fishing there, someday we’ll be able to hunt and fish all day.”  Unfortunately, Paul Sr. passed away before Paul Jr. came up with the idea for the Water Puppet, a fishing jig designed for ice fishing that he had patented.  So when it came time to give a name to their new tackle company there was no question about it, Someday Isle Tackle, a name that honored their father.

Hellmann's Hunting in PAThe Hellmanns grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, and when they weren’t fishing with their Dad, they were hunting with him.  It is because of the passion for the outdoors that their Dad instilled in them that they were able to achieve many of their goals when starting Someday Isle.  Theirs is a story of the American dream, where hard work, persistence, and a little bit of luck pay off.

Being laid off during the winter months has its advantages.  It gives a hunter and angler plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.  It was during the winter months that Paul often found himself out on the ice of Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pennsylvania trying to fill his bucket with the much sought after Lake Erie Perch.

Paul was constantly tinkering with jigs, bait, and other tackle to create an ice fishing jig that produced the best results.  He was always in Smitty’s bait shop at the end of State Street, checking out their latest creations and creating his own.  Paul started making his own jig heads to help save some money, and to try out new designs.  All the while, he was carrying his trusty notebook.  Recording conditions, results, what designs worked, and what didn’t.

Someday Isle Ice FishingAfter trying many different designs and styles, and taking pages of meticulous notes, Paul found something that seemed to out fish everything and everyone else.  With this new design he out fished his brother who would be sitting next to him on the ice, trying a different type of rig.  Over the next several years Paul and Rich continued to hand make and test the design, giving some to friends to try it out as well.  They all came back saying the same thing, it was better than anything else and consistently produced more fish than any other bait or lure. Not only did the design work while ice fishing, Paul and Rich soon found out it could be used under a bobber to jig for crappie in the spring, to deep water jig for walleye in Lake Erie, and drift for walleye in a small nearby lake.  Their method of drifting for walleye was so effective that other anglers switched tactics to emulate Paul and Rich. And so, Someday Isle Tackle’s jig, dubbed the “Water Puppet,” was born.

Someday Isle Water Puppet.jpgScared that their design would be copied, they applied for a patent, and as they waited more than three years for their patent number to get issued, they tackled the task of mass producing the Water Puppet.  Their attempts to cast the lead body themselves were met with failure, the necessary detail needed for the jig to perform as intended just wasn’t good enough.  They eventually received an answer to their prayers when they found Hook Solutions out of Warsaw, Missouri that could spin cast the lead and achieve that much needed detail.

That’s when the next challenge presented itself.  Someday Isle didn’t have a computer generated design of their jig, they were all handmade by Paul.  So in order to mass produce the Water Puppet, Paul needed to provide Hook Solutions with 60 identical pieces.  So, he got busy soldering and many hours at his workbench, and hundreds of jigs later, the 60 identical pieces needed to manufacture the Water Puppet in bulk were completed and sent to Hook Solutions.  There would be no more time wasted soldering at the workbench.

Someday Isle Tackle WalleyeThe Hellmann brothers wanted to expand their product line, making the Water Puppet into different sizes to target different species of fish, but without a computer generated design, it was not easily accomplished.  When one day Rich learned a friend, Mike Oberlander, had a son, Ryan, that was an engineering student at a local college.  Ryan brought the idea to his engineering professor to see if they could help develop Someday Isle’s ideas.  They were able to generate a much needed computer design as well as a program that would allow them to change sizes of the jig.  This was the breakthrough that they needed to take them to the next level.  From there, they worked with Woodward Industries, a precision machining and mold making company in Tonawanda, New York, to make the molds that create the jigs.  This allowed Someday Isle to provide more products, in several different sizes, up to and including a 1¼ ounce Water Puppet.

Someday Isle PerchSomeday Isle Tackle continues to grow and is becoming a bigger presence in the fishing industry, but it hasn’t been without growing pains.  Paul and Rich are fisherman first and foremost, so they’ve had to learn the business side of the industry on their own, which has many unforeseen challenges and obstacles.  They have contacted many of the big name tackle companies and retail stores, getting the same response, “we’re not looking for new products at this time.”  But they continue to stay positive and persistent, exhibiting at outdoor shows, where they have been noticed by regional retailers and bait shops, including Herb Philipson’s of Central New York.  Someday Isle also set up a website where orders can be placed.

Someday Isle Trout 2Their product line is continuing to grow as well, not only in size but in design and function.  They are using Gamakatsu saltwater hooks so the Water Puppets can be used for flounder or other saltwater fishing.  There is a buck tail version of the Water Puppet called The Zonker, as well as the Shimmerling, a small jig head designed for panfish.  A treble hook version of the Water Puppet that will be used more like a lure than a jig will be released later this year.  They also plan on manufacturing larger versions of the Water Puppet, up to a full pound, in hopes of targeting large saltwater species like tuna.

Whether you talk to either Paul or Rich, they both will tell you there wouldn’t be a Someday Isle Tackle without each other.  Fishing is no longer a hobby for them, it’s their life, passion, and obsession.  They have a responsibility to follow the path of their jig, wherever that may be.  They are living the dream, doing what they love, and loving what they’re doing.

Go to www.sitackle.com to see their full product line and to place an order.

Be sure to check out our product review of the Someday Isle  Water Puppet.

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