Every craftsman wants his home-made creations to sell well – and that is what Asbury Park’s Rob Pruszynski has accomplished with his Sunset Customs fishing plugs.
At the last annual Asbury Park Fishing Club flea market on March 8, Pruszynski sold his entire inventory of 107 hand-crafted fishing plugs in just 45 minutes.
“Was I surprised – absolutely!” he said.
Pruszynski, who is a member of the Asbury Park Fishing Club, said he has been selling at its annual flea market for a few years and usually came home with unsold inventory.
“But people are catching fish with it and I get a lot of feedback. A lot of people have heard about it, seen it, or fished with it. And it does everything it’s supposed to do really well,” he said.
Striped bass are the target fish for Pruszynski’s plugs but he has reports of people also catching blue fish, weakfish and fluke.
“I make one called the ‘Fat Boy’ and that is getting a lot of attention from fishermen,” said Pruszynski, who cites Fishing Club President Joe Pallotto as giving him the design.
“I gave him the design, after getting it from a friend years ago, and he got into making them- and he is doing really well with them,” Pallotto said.
As what does Pallotto think is the success of Sunset Customs plugs?
“It’s the way they swim – they are very realistic. They have a perfect wobble to them and striped bass think they are injured bait fish and they go right for them. And that’s what a fisherman wants- to catch fish. You want a plug that produces,” he said.
Pallotto said the plugs also have great custom paint jobs and are made to last.
“If I were still fishing today that is the first plug I would go for,” he said.
Growing up in Hawaii, Pruszynski, 54, said he has been fishing since he was about six or seven years old.
“It’s been a longtime passion but I became serious about it about 35 years ago,” he said.
Pruszynski, who is a carpenter, said that when he joined the Asbury Park Fishing Club, the oldest such club in the nation, he met well-known fishing plug craftsmen Bill McFadden and Lefty Carr.
“I just got interested in it- I was more curious than anything else,” he said.
McFadden took Pruszynski to the basement in his Ocean Grove home and started teaching him the tricks.
“And the rest is history, you might say. It started as just a hobby and I made my first plug in 2009,” he said.
But he also didn’t wait long to branch out under the Sunset Customs brand name and in 2010 his plugs were being sold at area bait and tackle shops, at the annual flea market, and at his restaurant in Asbury Park.
Pruszynski co-owns, with his wife Donna Logdon, the popular Sunset Landing restaurant on Deal Lake in Asbury Park.
His plugs are made from either western red cedar or basswood with the bodies turned on a lathe and then drilled, wired and hooked, and air-brush painted. The smallest is about 4.5 inches with the largest plug being just over eight inches.
“I have several different designs but my favorite is the metal-lipped swimmer. That’s my most successful by far,” he said.
Making a Sunset Customs fishing plug takes about one week from start to finish and Pruszynski said he has made more than 1,000 of them.
As for Pruszynski and Sunset Customs, he said he will still keep “plugging along.”
“I want to keep the quality where it is and improve my airbrushing skills. But I am limited in the number I can make and will do the best I can,” he said.