Steve Alekshun believes strongly in his products.
That conviction was evident by his presence at last weekend’s Cabin Fever Reliever hosted by the Penobscot Fly Fishers at the Brewer Auditorium.
Looking around the gymnasium floor, the landscape was predictably dominated by fly anglers, fly tiers, a huge variety of flies and even fly rods. Alekshun’s booth had plenty of fishing gear, but not a single dry fly, nymph or streamer.
That’s because Alekshun is the proud purveyor of other fishing tackle: small lures and large lures — some with blades, others featuring hair or beads — along with numerous 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, unapologetically. “The dressing on the hook is basically like tying a fly, but I don’t fly fish. I fish a spinning rod.”
That wasn’t a problem for the Penobscot Fly Fishers, who again enthusiastically welcomed Alekshun to participate in the 16th edition of the Cabin Fever Reliever. The event was held for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak put the kibosh on such events nearly two years ago.
Alekshun’s inspiration was his dad, Robert Alekshun, who carved figurines out of wood. He followed suit with fishing lures, but whittling a piece of pine into a lure was time-consuming.
Instead, Alekshun branched out and started making lures from the numerous components used to manufacture commercial lures.
“I just put together patterns that I wanted to try — colors and sizes and designs — fished them and caught fish with them,” he said, noting that his wife Valerie has been tremendously supportive of his efforts.
He shared the lures among friends, who also caught fish, and word spread that Alekshun’s lures often produced. That led to making multiple copies of the fish-catching lures and selling them not only to friends and acquaintances, but also to local businesses.
Unique Lures can be found in stores such as Maine Military Supply in Holden, Willey’s in Ellsworth and the Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville.
When it comes to targeting a specific freshwater species, Alekshun tries to accommodate. 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 entice and handle pike and muskies.
It’s an impressive assortment of colors and patterns. The aim is to give anglers lots of choices and help them succeed on the water.
“Not everybody likes the same thing,” Alekshun said. “One person will say, ‘this one doesn’t work, but that one’s great.’ The other person will say, ‘this is great, but that one doesn’t work.’”
Unique Lures also features a line of T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, some of which feature “Mr. Unique Lures,” a caricature of Alekshun toting a fishing pole with a fish tucked under his arm.
Needless to say, Alekshun has a virtually unlimited supply of lures at his disposal. And any he doesn’t have, he can make.
He is part of the growing group of anglers who prefer targeting bass on Maine’s lakes and rivers. He prefers spincasting, although even the fly fishing community has embraced bass fishing because of the quality 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’ve got a light-action rod that I’ve had since I was 25. My dad bought it for my birthday,” he said, “and that’s sort of been my go-to rod.”
Even though he long ago bought an identical backup rod, just in case, Alekshun has instead repaired the original when needed and kept it in his hand.
When it comes to promoting his lures, Alekshun is committed to putting them where the fish’s mouth is, so to speak. His display included photos of good-sized fish with one of his Unique Lures creations dangling from their mouths as evidence of their effectiveness.
Of course, there aren’t any guarantees in fishing. Anglers have to determine which lures work, for what particular species, given the water temperature, the weather and numerous other factors.
Alekshun does have one important piece of advice that he likes to share with anglers.
“I think the biggest thing is having confidence in what you’re using,” he said. “So many people change lures. They’ll put on a lure, cast it three or four times, change it. They don’t figure out the patterns. They need to give the lure a chance to work.”
He said that confidence comes mostly with experience and learning which lures are effective for a particular species on a certain body of water at any given time.