Local Luremaker: Bill Couch – Couch’s Cedar Works

In the fall of 2007 Bill Couch of Alloway, New Jersey attended the Rhode Island Plug Bash, an annual event hosted by the community of plug builders from StripersOnline.com. He had been tying flies and teasers commercially online as well as being a contracted tier for Spirit River, but after seeing the custom wooden plugs at the Plug Bash, he saw plug building as a new challenge.

In the winter of 2007/2008, Bill started making older designs like the Heddon Lucky 13, some poppers, and a plug he called the Eggo that was looked like a fat peanut with a cut and cupped front face. Bill made plugs for a whole year before cutting his first lip slot. “I wanted to learn about the wood as much as possible before going the metal lip direction,” Bill said.

When Bill was building plugs to swap and for fun, he made many styles like pikies, pencil poppers, needles, small swimmers, large swimmer, surfsters, A40’s, bottles, and handcarves. When he began building commercially under the name Couch’s Cedar Works, he narrowed his selection down to the baits that had been his go-to’s over a wide range of locations and conditions. Bill said that every model he offers has caught numerous stripers larger than 30 pounds.

The CCW Small Danny started out as a light, un-weighted freshwater bait that morphed into a weighted round-nose stable plug. This is his smallest saltwater plug and can be fished several ways. Bending the front line-tie up restricts the head of the plug making it much more stable in current and causing the plug to dive. This also makes the plug swim more natural at slower speeds by letting the tail kick instead of the head swing from side to side. Bending the front loop down allows the head of the plug to swing which keeps it at the surface, as sometimes a small profile on top is just right.

The CCW Jetty Swimmer is a relatively slender bait that is un-weighted with some shoulders—making it a wood version of a Bomber type bait. Bill uses this bait with several different retrieves depending on the conditions. In quiet waters, the bait will swim on top with slow, steady crank. With the line-tie tuned up, the plug will dive under. “I retrieve the plug by reeling fast enough to get it under, then slow down to keep it swimming as slowly as possible while keeping it down. This gives the plug a very seductive swagger with some roll mixed in,” said Bill.

The CCW Classic Danny is a Lupo-style Danny plug that Bill has designed to swim in an S-pattern similar to the older three-hook plugs. Bill often uses this plug in the surf as a subsurface plug. “I have never caught small bass with this plug, and although I only went a handful of times last year, I landed my largest bass last year, a 30 pounder, on a white Classic.

The CCW Canal Swimmer is a stout-bodied swimmer with a small lip that loves moderate current and surf. Bill designed this plug while building pencil poppers for his annual pilgrimage to the Cape Cod Canal. “I decided to make a couple swimmers but didn’t feel like changing the duplicator. I took the pencil bodies, turned them around, and cut a lip slot above center, knowing I would need that for stability. I took them to a local pond and moved the weight around to get a very tight wiggle to mimic the action of the mackerel in the Canal,” Bill said.

“I had a day catching bass in the 20- to 35-pound class for hours on the plug, and since then has enjoyed great success with it in the surf as well, making him wish he hadn’t named it the Canal Swimmer.”

The CCW Cigar Danny was built to be a strictly surface plug that would not need much movement to swim. “It works great when bass are surface feeding or when you need to call one up on a quiet night,” explained Bill.

The CCW Darter is made with the line tie lower between the angles to keep it stable in the strongest currents. The Darter swims best when retrieving with the rod held at a low angle. It has an erratic action in current, but Bill said it is very effective in calmer waters as well. “When there is not much current, if you hold the rod tip low and crank the plug down, then use a four cranks-pause-four cranks-pause retrieve, it will surprise you how effective it is.”

Of these plugs, Bill says the Jetty Swimmer is his favorite. “I cut my teeth in the back bays of Cape May using lures like the Rapala F11, Bombers, and Mirror Lures. The Jetty Swimmer is a very versatile plug that has produced for me in all of the 6 states where I have fished for stripers. I have caught some very nice largemouth on it as well. It can hold quite well in current, swima slowly along the surface, can be tuned to dive down to 5 feet, and can even be used a jerkbait in open water.”

Bill works full time as a Maintenance Manager at an industrial forging facility. The money he makes from selling plugs goes back into the plug-building business almost exclusively. “I have had a business license since 2005 from my fly-tying days, so I was already covered in that regard. I spent lots of money and time testing products such as paints and epoxies.  I have bought some new equipment, but every plug has been turned on lathes that are older than I am at fifty years old.”

The flags that give the CCW swimmers additional action are made from durable synthetic material. Bill taught his girlfriend Kris Thomas how to make them and she had made every tail that has been sold on CCW plugs.

Couch’s Cedar Works plugs are currently available at:
The Reel Seat, Brielle, NJ
Fisherman’s Supply, Point Pleasant, NJ
Tackle Direct, Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Grumpy’s Tackle, Seaside, NJ
White Water Outfitters, Hampton Bays, NY
J and H Tackle, Oakdale, NY
Riverview Bait and Tackle, South Yarmouth, MA

7 on “Local Luremaker: Bill Couch – Couch’s Cedar Works

  1. marko

    and every fly I tie has caught “numerous” 30 pounders…they’re all you need to fill the boat.

    1. Bill Couch

      My statements are the results from my customers and myself. Glad your flys are so productive ?

  2. Wickedsmahtkid

    I’m up in southern NH, but do head to Cape Cod in the spring to give myself a case of striper thumb. I’ll try to swing by South Yarmouth.
    FISH ON!!!!!!!
    Catch and Release Please

  3. chris healy

    catalog available for plugs/lures?
    chris healy
    816 ocean palm way
    st augustine, florida 32080

  4. Louis Marrella

    Anyone have any videos with these plugs in action? I can’t seem to find any. I just purchased a CCW Classic Danny, but would love to compare how I’m working the plug to other videos to make sure it’s movement is optimal.

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