It's the same but different
Business is what it is, and the fishing industry is no different to others out there, and from time to time one might come across various business practises that could be referred to as "copying", but for this blog post let's talk about "imitations" instead. You know when you see a new item of fishing tackle that might bear a striking resemblance to something you have seen before ? Is imitation really the highest form of flattery ?
Many of you I am sure have come across cheaper fishing lures for example that rather closely resemble various high-end lures. I have seen some of the trade catalogues that come out of various countries which are full of these direct copies and it's pretty freaky stuff that "imitating" can be done so freely and I guess so often without any repercussions. I understand completely the appeal of good looking lures at cheap prices and of course we the consumers want cheaper products, but from an ethical point of view one must surely wonder sometimes.
I bet if you did a poll of a hundred keen and up to date bass anglers in the UK or Ireland that the Xorus Patchinko II (140mm, 27g) would come out on or very near the top as the most talked about and successful surface lure of the last few years. I don't mean that every angler uses one, rather that if you spend a bit of time reading fishing magazines or on the internet (forums, blogs etc.) there is a good chance you will have heard of this missile. If you haven't used one then you are missing out because it kills. Sure, sometimes I just don't want a surface lure this (comparatively) heavy that lands so noisily, but holy cow does it cover some water and the bass love it.
My understanding is that the Xorus Patchinko II was designed by one of the Ultimate Fishing registered bass guides and then put into production by the French based company under their own brand Xorus. As to where it's made I have no idea and quite frankly I don't care. All credit to them I reckon for designing such a killer bass lure, and also to the people who then sourced it to sell here in the UK.
And so we come to the new Savage Gear SG Panic Prey (13.5cm, 26g). If you haven't seen one yet then have a look at this link here. So how does one describe this lure ? Well let's be generous here and say that it certainly looks to be at least "inspired" by the Xorus Patchinko II. OK, try as I might I can't see any meaningful difference between the two - I have both lures here and I have briefly cast them/retrieved them against each other and I can't notice any differences in how well they cast and how they behave on the retrieve. Give me some time and perhaps I might, but for all intents and purposes this new Savage Gear casts and fishes "pretty much like" the Xorus Patchinko II. What I can't comment on is how the Savage Gear "imitation" might perform on the bass-catching front when compared to the tried and tested Xorus Patchinko II, but I see no reason why it won't hammer fish just as successfully.
From the consumer's point of view (you and I) it's some pretty good news is it not ? For around half the price we can now get a potentially serious bass catching machine, and the price of around £10/12 Euros of course opens this kind of "high performance" lure up to anglers who for whatever reasons will not or cannot spend around the £20 mark on a single lure. I can't comment on whether this Savage Gear "imitation" will last as well as the Xorus Patchinko II, but even if it doesn't it's half the price and one has to kinda say so what ? But from my limited knowledge Savage Gear make some pretty serious fishing tackle so I must assume that this Panic Prey surface lure will last just fine. It sure looks well-made.
How about from the retailer's point of view ? Well I have no idea what margin a dealer can make from selling either a Patchinko or a Panic Prey, but don't for one second think that just because a lure retails for much more that a dealer/tackle shop is automatically making a load more money on it. I would guess though that a tackle shop can make an acceptable margin on the Savage Gear lure and if their customers want to buy them then a tackle shop is going to want to sell them. What happens though if a shop puts the two "different" lures on the shelf side by side ? Who buys what ?
Now what I am categorically not trying to do here is to have a go at Savage Gear because as a company it is no way unique what has happened here, and to be fair if you are into your lures (who, me ?) then they are a pretty easy thing to pick up on - I have picked up rods in the past say that to me have felt somewhat "inspired" by another one, yet because a rod can be made to look so different this might never actually get picked up on if an angler never gets to use the other rod that might have helped "inspire" the cheaper one. I have also used other items of fishing tackle that I have found out later on down the line have perhaps been heavily "inspired" by other items. You can't tell me for example that the whole ultrabook PC laptop thing was not heavily "inspired" by the Apple Macbooks.
Think about where the Xorus Patchinko came from for a second and then think about how the designer of that lure might have arrived at their inspiration. Was the Patchinko itself "inspired" by another lure and the guide/angler/designer then thinking that they could come up with something that better suited their fishing ? Look how many minnow-type lures are out there for example, and tell me a lure designer is not looking at other models and working out how they think they could change and improve upon them. Don't you yourself sometimes use an item of fishing tackle and think about how you might change/improve it by implementing certain elements from another bit of gear that you like ? There is a chance of course that somebody within Savage Gear simply came up with the Panic Prey design and had no idea that it then so closely resembled another lure until it hit the shelves and anglers noticed the "similarities" ?
This kind of thing happens and will always happen. We are consumers and we want cheaper products and companies are going to service that demand in a number of different ways, and not for one second am I going to talk about any legal ramifications here because I know absolutely nothing about it. One side of me can't help but think it's a bit of a shame that such a reputable company brings out such a close "imitation", but the other side of me as a consumer of course loves the fact that I now have access to two "variations" for very different prices. What is right and what is wrong ? Well we all know what is ethically right, but this surely is the world we live in is it not ? Look at the rumbling horsemeat scandal as a classic example, or those hideous, flabby things masquerading as fresh chickens in our supermarkets. Food for thought ?