Steve Alekshun strongly believes in his products.
That belief was evident by his attendance at last weekend’s Cabin Fever Reliever hosted by the Penobscot Fly Fishers at Brewer Auditorium.
Looking around the gymnasium floor, the landscape was predictably dominated by fly fishermen, fly tyers, a wide variety of flies and even fly rods. Alekshun’s stall contained plenty of fishing gear, but not a single dry fly, nymph or streamer.
That’s because Alekshun is the proud supplier of other fishing tackle: small lures and big lures – some with blades, some with hair or beads – as well as many color schemes and patterns.
Alekshun’s offerings are sold as part of Unique Lures, a business he started in 2011 at his home in Brewer.
“I’m not a fly fisherman,” he said shamelessly. “Dressing on the hook is basically like tying a fly, but I’m not stealing the fish. I’m fishing for a spinning rod.
That was no problem for the Penobscot Fly Fishers, who again enthusiastically welcomed Alekshun to compete in the 16th Annual Cabin Fever Reliever. The event was held for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak put a stop to such events nearly two years ago.
Alekshun’s inspiration was his father, Robert Alekshun, who carved wooden figurines. He followed suit with fishing lures, but carving a piece of pine into a lure was time consuming.
Instead, Alekshun branched out and started making lures from the many components used to make commercial lures.
“I just made designs that I wanted to try – colors, sizes and patterns – I fished them out and caught fish with them,” he said, noting that his wife Valerie had a huge amount of supported his efforts.
He shared the lures among friends, who also caught fish, and word spread that Alekshun’s lures often produced. This led to several copies of the fishing lures being made and sold not only to friends and acquaintances, but also to local businesses.
Unique decoys can be found at stores such as Maine Military Supply in Holden, Willey’s in Ellsworth, and Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville.
When it comes to targeting a specific freshwater species, Alekshun tries to adapt. He makes smaller lures for brook trout, single hook lures for landlocked salmon, a wide variety of casting lures for bass and crappie and even more substantial offerings designed to attract and handle pike and the muskellunges.
It is an impressive assortment of colors and patterns. The goal is to give anglers plenty of choice and help them succeed on the water.
“Not everyone likes the same thing,” Alekshun said. “A person will say, ‘This one doesn’t work, but this one is great.’ The other person will say, “That’s great, but that one doesn’t work.”
Unique Lures also offers a line of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats, some of which feature “Mr. Unique Lures”, a cartoon of Alekshun carrying a fishing rod with a fish under his arm.
Needless to say, Alekshun has a virtually unlimited supply of lures. And anything he doesn’t have, he can make.
He is part of the growing group of anglers who prefer to target bass on Maine’s lakes and rivers. He prefers spincasting, although even the fly fishing community has embraced bass fishing due to the quality of the angling experience.
Alekshun is a man who prefers to stick with what works, whether it’s a particular group of lures or his favorite rod.
“I have a light action rod that I’ve had since I was 25. My dad bought it for my birthday,” he said, “and it’s kind of my favorite rod .”
Even though he purchased an identical backup rod long ago, just in case, Alekshun instead repaired the original when needed and kept it in his hand.
When it comes to promoting his lures, Alekshun is committed to placing them where the fish’s mouth is, so to speak. His display included photos of good-sized fish with one of his Unique Lures dangling from their mouths as proof of their effectiveness.
Of course, there are no guarantees in fishing. Anglers must determine which lures work, for which particular species, considering water temperature, weather and many other factors.
Alekshun has an important tip that he likes to share with anglers.
“I think the most important thing is to have confidence in what you’re using,” he said. “So many people change their lure. They will put on a decoy, cast it three or four times, change it. They don’t understand models. They need to give the lure a chance to work.
He said confidence mostly comes from experience and learning which lures work for a particular species in a certain body of water at a particular time.
Unique Lures can be found at uniquelures.square.site and on Facebook and Instagram.