April, 2011: Zingamajig

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Zingamajig

Zing Products Inc.
12 Kendrick Road
Wareham, MA 02571
1-800-729-2718
www.zingfishingtackle.com

 

 

By John D. Silva

During the late 1970s, a pair of angling brothers from the south coast of Massachusetts began making their own bottom-fishing rigs, terminal tackle, trolling rigs, and other fishing-related items in their basement, basically as an alternative to buying commercially sold products, which, at the time, were often of questionable quality. Some of the products they made were original creations, others were duplicates or improvements on what was already available on the market. Over time, these products began showing up in select tackle shops throughout New England. As the business grew, they started expanding into specified rigs for individual species, such as flounder, tautog, bluefish, and striped bass, eventually earning a reputation as a well respected, locally-made, quality tackle company. The name of the company is Zing.

During the mid 1980s, Zing came up with a new, original product offering. The idea was to design a lure to serve as an alternative to European-made deepwater jigs. Like most new lure concepts, the prototypes went through many adaptations and revisions in design, casting, testing and naming. Once finished, Zing’s new metallic, squid-shaped lure, dubbed the Zingamajig, made its market debut in January 1987. Thanks to its superior performance in deep water, the Zingamajig quickly became popular among anglers from Alaska to Iceland.

The Zingamajig is a molded, nickel-plated, squid-shaped lure that features skirted colored tubing on a Mustad treble hook. It ranges in size from 5/8 ounce to 21 ounces. The 5/8- to 3-ounce sizes are designed for casting, jigging, and trolling, and they are effective on a number of saltwater fish species, including striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, mackerel, black sea bass and bonito, among others. The larger sizes, 9 to 21 ounces, are primarily used for deepwater jigging. Fish species include striped bass, cod, haddock, and pollock. In addition to the Zingamajig, Zing offers a wide range of bait-fishing rigs, spreader bars, umbrella rigs, trolling rigs, jigging rigs, and teasers.

In February 2009, after more than three decades in business, Zing was purchased by Massachusetts resident Chris Lynch, who incorporated the company. Because Zing had a loyal customer base, Lynch decided to keep the company name intact. The youngest of eight children growing up on Cape Cod, Lynch remembered fondly the days of his youth, fishing with his father and siblings on Buzzards Bay. As an adult, Lynch spent the majority of his career in the commercial banking industry. Over time, however, he decided that what he really wanted to do was start his own business. “And I thought to myself, if you’re going to do that, you have got to find something you love,” explained Lynch. “So I started to look into the fishing industry. What I found was that Zing Products was a business that was for sale. And when I looked at it I said, well it’s got a proven name, it’s got a solid New England customer base that’s starting to reach outside New England, and it’s right in my back yard.”

That Zing had such a loyal following among fishermen might be considered surprising, considering that in the years prior to Lynch’s acquisition, Zing never actually marketed their products, much less developed a website. The performance and quality of the Zing product line stood on its own. “The thing about Zing is they never had a website, never did any marketing, no advertising, and had super-outdated packaging, using clip art from the 70s and 80s,” said Lynch. “So people know Zing, but a lot of people don’t even know they are using it until they actually see the packaging [and realize]: ‘ooooh, now I know what you’re talking about.'”

Talking with Lynch, it’s apparent just how much he genuinely loves his work, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Upon acquiring the company, Lynch went right to work on the Zingamajig to try and improve the hardware, the metal casting process, and the quality and consistency of the nickel plating. One improvement involved removing the top and bottom eyes from the 13-, 17-, and 21-ounce models and casting holes directly through the lure. A 350-pound-test cable is then hand swaged into a flexible ring that attaches to a split ring and treble hook at the bottom of the Zingamajig. “The reason we removed the eye,” Lynch explained, “was they would fall fast and the eyes would get cracked, bent to the side, or dented. So they are completely removed on the heavier sizes, and the cable allows that treble hook to kind of sweep aside as it falls, so it can land flat on that heavy nose and bounce off the bottom, or bounce off an object.”

Effective methods for using Zingamajigs in the smaller sizes include casting and retrieving (they cast like a missile), and vertical jigging in shallow water. The larger sizes are used primarily for deepwater jigging for bottom species. “There was great feedback that it sunk faster than heavier Norwegian-style jigs,” Lynch pointed out. “So you get something that’s falling faster and don’t necessarily need all that extra weight. That’s pretty good. It’s also kind of versatile; although we put a treble hook on there, a lot of people pop it off and put on a J-hook.” Other minor alterations include adding a spinner or a teaser above the lure, and/or adding a stinger hook.

For the first five months after Lynch’s acquisition, Zing’s headquarters remained in Westport, Massachusetts. Then in July 2009, the business moved from Westport to Wareham, where they’ve been ever since. “We had been in the middle of nowhere in Westport,” recalled Lynch. “When we moved to Wareham, all of a sudden we had this whole industrial park of resources around us that we started to leverage. Folks that help us cut some of the wire better and assemble certain components—a machinist behind us and a tool maker—and we upgraded some of the things we use. A whole host of things popped up by virtue of moving here.” Like all of Zing’s products, most of which are handmade, Zingmajigs are made locally. Being a small, family-owned, family-operated business, Lynch was able to enlist the expertise of some of his family members to help improve the manufacturing processes used to make the Zingamajig. His father Pete is an MIT graduate and a retired metallurgist. And his brother Patrick is a sales executive for the jewelry company that now does the nickel plating on the Zingamajig.

When Lynch purchased Zing and the rights to the Zingamajig, he did so with an open mind and a desire to listen and learn from those who bought and sold Zing products. “When I took over, we didn’t have the intention to coming in like we know everything and we’re going to change everything. What we did do is learn and absorb what’s good, what works, and what may need to be slightly improved. And the feedback we got on most of the product was ‘leave it alone, it works really good, but freshen up your packaging, freshen up your logo, but also keep it consistent identifying what it catches.'”

Despite the Zingamajig’s success, it never hurts to throw in a few fresh ideas from time to time. “One of the thousands of things we have in mind, ” said Lynch, “is to sell [the Zingamajig] with a single J-hook, or maybe one of our little Amazing Worms off the back for the smaller size. You have a bunch of options with it. We have all sorts of sketches. We’ve actually done some testing with adding a stinger hook, and my father came up with the Flutter Zing, where we reversed the jig so we have the top falling first and it actually makes a wobbly effect as it sinks. We’re working on some adaptations of that now.”
Just 24 years in existence and the Zingamajig is instantly recognizable, even if some people are still struggling to remember the name. “Here I had a thirty-plus-year-old company that had a whole variety of product, from offshore dredges, umbrella rigs, to mainly the ground tackle, to this trademark, catchy Zingamajig,” said Lynch. “And when you look at the Zingamajig, you immediately say, ‘I know that lure!’ . It’s just an awesome lure, it’s a catchy name, and that was one of Zing’s first, original products.”