Enterprise-How it all started

Chris Hornsby

Enterprise Tackle was formed as a company in 2003, but we actually started producing a range of products five years earlier in 1998.

I started working for my fathers company Enterprise Moulding Developments Ltd in 1982, training as a mould/tool maker, and over the years built up a good knowledge of plastics and mould design.

In 1998 whilst fishing on the River Great Ouse, I lost a huge perch when it made one final dive just as I was about to net it. My hooklink had parted where it attached to the main line with a four turn water knot. I was so gutted I was determined to design something that allowed me to fish a paternoster leger set up straight through without the weak point of a knot. Within a week I had made a mould, produced  samples and tested our first product the Adjuster-Link. Soon after I designed the Paste-Mate, an idea that came about through missing bites whilst chub fishing, moulding cheese paste directly around the hook. This product solved the problem of missed bites by allowing most of the hook to remain exposed from the hard ball of paste.

I thought that as these two products had helped my fishing, then other angler’s would find them useful, so decided to try and market them. After designing some simple packaging and deciding upon the name Enterprise Tackle, I sent both products to  Angling Times tackle reviewer Dave Woodmansey. Not seriously expecting to hear anything, I was pleasantly surprised when two weeks later I received a call from Dave saying, he thought they were both great products, and that he was going to feature them in the paper.

I designed several more items of terminal tackle over the following year, including our in-line leger stop the Adjuster-Stop, along with Bait Anchors, Protect-A-Beads and  Snag Safe Lead Clips.

In late 1999 whilst flicking through a magazine, I came across a Q & A section. One question asked the expert how to pop up a grain of sweetcorn above the bottom weed. The answer was to take yellow rig foam and cut it to resemble a grain of corn, and then hair rig it with a grain of real corn. To me this seemed rather fiddly and I knew that with my mould making experience and knowledge of plastics, I could produce a realistic looking buoyant imitation version, that could be used straight from the packet with no messing around. I soon had my first samples of Popup Sweetcorn to test out and within months the product was added to our range. At first sales were a bit slow, I guess people thought why would fish want to eat a lump of plastic. Early results had however been very good and we knew that the additives we added during manufacture were obviously attractive to fish, so thought it was just a matter of time before it took off.

The breakthrough came when we were approached by Partridge of Redditch an established company in the tackle trade, who obviously saw the potential in our product, as they wanted to add it to their carp range under their own brand name. We agreed and a few months later a new British record carp was caught on a couple of grains of ‘their’ corn. Although we didn’t gain any recognition for the capture, it obviously made everyone aware of the potential of imitation baits, and gave me great personal satisfaction in knowing that a product I created had helped catch a British record. Sales took off and we continued to supply Partridge for another six months, until they decided to copy it and produce their own version, a trend that is still continuing today with many major brands now producing imitation baits (fake baits or plastic baits).

After the success of the Popup Corn, we continued to add other popular baits to our range, and it wasn’t long before we were contacted by top carp angler Frank Warwick, who asked if we could make him some luminous corn samples to test out. Frank had a feeling that carp would be attracted to glowing hook baits, and he was proved right when the first batch of luminous green and blue baits resulted in some spectacular catches. It turned out that Frank was already a fan of our baits and he readily agreed when we asked him to become a consultant, to help further develop our range and promote them through his articles and media work. With his help and in later years that of our other consultants that have joined us, we have became firmly established as the leading brand for imitation baits throughout Europe and the  U.K. offering the largest and best range of imitation baits. Britain’s top carp and specialist anglers choose our baits because they work, four separate British record species are testament to this fact. Many have tried imitation baits from other companies, mostly made in the far east, but a lack of results ensures they keep using Enterprise, the original and best.

You can read Frank’s own account of our working to develop some ‘different’ baits with him in his article ‘Plastic Fantastic‘, an alliance that continues to this day as Frank continues to use our baits and help develop new ones with us.

Chris Hornsby