Even if you’re not a fan of fishing, you’ll soon gain an appreciation for the lures that Aaron Young carves out in his cave. Justin Felix explains.
It is often said in fishing clicks that lures catch more anglers than fish. And when you take the time to really look at the intricate details that make up a hardbody lure these days, it’s easy to see why. They’re works of art and similarly to the ones we adorn our walls with, they fetch a pretty penny. I admit to walking out of many a tackle store hundreds of dollars poorer than when I walked in and in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Many anglers (myself included), like to convince themselves that fish are smart enough to decipher between a cheap lure and one that costs more than a slab of beer. Clearly we aren’t the only living beings with expensive taste you know…
Admittedly, I won’t spend more than $20 on a lure produced en masse; I simply can’t justify that. But a wooden lure that has been carved by someone’s hands – now that’s a different story altogether. Over the past two years I’ve been a big admirer of Kuttafurra Lures. For a lure lover, they really are the bee’s knees of pretty wooden things that swim.
One could easily be mistaken for thinking that the bloke behind Kuttafurra has been making lures his entire life, and no one would blame you for it. His technique is highly refined and with an obvious propensity for perfection, Aaron Young is well-respected among his peers. But the truth is Aaron’s ability was only realised after he was no longer able to work full-time.
“My previous employer had to let me go because of the damage to my shoulder which I sustained two and a half years ago when I was hit by a car. I was coming home from work one morning and while my recollection is non-existent, I was hit by a car and the driver fled the scene. Somebody (presumably the driver) rang the police and told them that someone looked dead on the side of the road,” Aaron explains.
He remains calm while speaking of the event but he openly admits that it changed his life. After working in the book printing industry for 18 years, he was left without a job, a fractured head, busted ear drum and hyper extended leg.
“I lost a full week of my life after the accident. I couldn’t taste and hear properly for eight months. It certainly put my life on hold and work wouldn’t let me back because they saw me as a liability – thankfully my missus works full-time.
“I completely blew out the tendon ligaments that keep your collar bone in place. The doctors have only seen five of these in 10 years and if I decide to go ahead with the surgery, there’s a chance of them hitting a vital artery. Needless to say, two specialists have already told me they’re not keen to touch it. So because of all of that I can’t really do anything else but make lures.”
And make them he does.
As I watched Aaron carve out the ears of a future mice hardbody lure, I couldn’t help but appreciate the artform. He worked quickly but methodically, whittling out all of the small wood fragments that no longer belonged. It was hard to believe he had carved out all of his lures in this fashion… no wonder he has such a large following.
A backyard shed was originally erected to provide Aaron with more space out of the house. It was his man cave so to speak, but after the accident it transformed into something else, and so the Kuttafurra lure cave was born. Speaking of which, it’s an interesting name and one that I’ve often pondered over when seeing Aaron’s lures splashed across my social media feeds over the past twelve months.
“Kuttafurra is my old man’s nickname. When he was young and driving the graders, people would ask him where he’s been and he’d say, ‘oh I’ve been cutting a furra’ and so they started calling him kuttafurra. Before he passed away two years ago, I told him that it was a great name for lures as lures cut a furra every time they move, so I just went with it.”
Being an avid freshwater fisherman from a young age means that Aaron has always been drawn to lures. It’s a feeling I know all too well.
“I’ve always liked tinkering and working with timber but I’ve never done it professionally before. So I guess, it’s nice to be able to combine my passion for fishing and my passion for tinkering into a hobby that gives me reason to get out of bed each day.
“Even better is the fact that guys are catching some really good fish on my lures and I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the photos of them with the fish they’ve caught. That gives me a real buzz.
Aaron doesn’t just make conventional fish catching lures either. He likes to be creative and as such carves out oversized lures that replicate all manner of piscatorial creatures. There are freshwater crays that span the length of a child’s arm, 30-40cm sharks and mice, plus my personal favourite – the oversized dragonflies.
“While I enjoy making fishable lures, I get a real buzz from making the more elaborate and creative stuff too and I think it’s important to do the side of it that I really love. I don’t want to make this feel like a chore at the end of the day.”
Perhaps the best part of these bigger lures is the fact that they all swim like a lure should too.
“I test a lot of the lure’s swimming abilities in my neighbour’s pool which is handy but when I need a full depth analysis I go up to Lake Eildon. I can easily spend half a day testing lures in the field but if a lure is swimming straight, it isn’t going to attract fish so it’s important that I get it right. Once I have the depth aspect covered, I can do the rest here in the cave.”
Focusing on the cave for a moment, it’s a fairly sizable structure. While it is still a work in progress, the alfresco area provides the perfect place to enjoy a cold brew and a steak or two on a warm summer’s night. Once the area is enclosed with retaining walls and windows it will be a suitable retreat all year round.
The inside plays home to a couple of work benches, a small airbrush station, a generous bar and a variety of fishing related memorabilia. Three taxidermied trout adorn the walls and a vast array of lures sit pretty around the place. The roof has been spared for some art work that mates will contribute once Aaron is ready. Until then, Aaron will continue to do his thing.
“I do supply a couple of tackle stores around the country and there’s quite a few more that would like me to but I can’t over commit because I don’t like working to deadlines and being hand carved and painted means it takes a lot of time. I currently sell via eBay as well.
“I’m basically self-taught but I joined lure forums in the early stages and that was really helpful because I met heaps of great blokes and obtained plenty of ideas from them. I’d actually like to thank those guys now.”
Like most creatives, Aaron suggests that if he isn’t in the mood, there’s simply no point in working. You can’t force creativity and when it’s not flowing seamlessly, you’re better off taking a break or doing something else for a while.
“I don’t like to make it a chore which is why deadlines don’t work for me. It just doesn’t happen when I’m not in the right frame of mind.”
“It is a massive passion now and I don’t care if they just sit in a box – I just enjoy making them and doing something productive. A lot of people could have given up after sustaining some of the injuries I did, but I’m determined to have a real go at making Kuttafurra a recognisable brand.”
What a great way to honour his old man.