If bass anglers are in a funk over lack of bites, it might be time to turn to Funkbuster Baits.
Paul Funk, 52, and his family make one of the most popular bladed jigs on the market, the Wesley Warbird. In a world filled with bait manufacturers, Funkbuster Baits has found its niche with spinnerbaits, buzz baits and bladed jigs.
Funk, who also directs the Funkbuster Team Trail, has come a long way to be a Louisianan and get in the lure business. He was born in Bishop, California, and moved with his father, Wesley Funk, to Tahoe, California. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1988 and was stationed at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, then eventually transferred to Barksdale AFB in Bossier Parish, La.
After 24 years, he retired as a master sergeant E7 in 2012 and stayed in the south, growing to love bass fishing in northwest Louisiana. The decision to stay was fueled by a “joint decision” with his wife, Brenda, to buy “Old Blue,” a 2004 Ranger bass boat.
A good point
Brenda Funk soon noticed and raised a point or two about the number of spinnerbaits purchased and used by Funk, who fished every chance he got. So he started making his own artificials and, well, the rest is history.
Funkbuster’s Wesley Warbird line of bladed jigs comes in six different models and are named after his father. Building things is nothing new to these two. The elder Funk, an adventurer with skills to match his dreams, built an Experimental Aircraft Association bi-plane and flew it in 1969.
Taking that into consideration so many years later, his son christened one of the company’s newest baits the Wesley Warbird.
Wesley Warbirds and other products are now popular from Louisiana to Minnesota, West Coast to East Coast.
How did they get to Minnesota? The North Star State’s many kayakers have been hooked for quite a while on Wesley Warbirds and other Funkbuster Baits. The artificial lure maker responded with an annual special for kayakers up there and this year 74 orders poured in during one week in April.
The Wesley Warbird 1.0 was introduced in 2019. Two years later, Funk’s friend, Josh Whitt, a serviceman stationed in England, made a surprise visit and the two celebrated by fishing a “fruit jar” tournament in which the visitor caught an 11-pounder on a WW 1.0 at Caddo Lake.
One of the most ardent proponents of the Wesley Warbird 1.0 is accomplished pro bass tournament angler Allen Stewart of Lakeview, Arkansas. Stewart finished ninth in the Bassmaster Central Open in 2021 on Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake.
What’s so appealing about the Wesley Warbird 1.0?
“It’s unique because with the football jig head, as the blade’s coming through the water, the blade hits the head on both sides,” Funk said, adding it has a “unique swim” to it.
“That’s the one that’s won the most money locally and nationally. I’ve converted a lot of Jackhammers (users) to the Wesley Warbird,” he said, proudly.
There are six models to choose: WW 1.0; WW 2.0, a bullet swim jighead; WW 3.0, a regular swim jig head; WW 4.0, a free-swinging worm hook; WW 5.0, a free swinging frog hook favored by Bradley Virgilitto of Bossier City, whose daughter and her friend gained instant notoriety a few months ago with a 30-pound, 3-ounce catch in a high school tournament at Caddo Laske, and WW 6.0, an Arky jig style.
The WW 1.0’s football head is made of standard lead molded onto a Gamakatzu hook, usually a 5.0. The blade can be silver, gold, copper or whatever is desired.
“We can modify it any way the customer wants. We can make ¼ to 1 ¼-ounce Wesley Warbirds,” Funk said.
The custom made part includes color combinations for the silicone skirts that have a rubber collar and are wire-tied to keep the skirt attached even if the rubber band wears out. You name the colors, he’ll rig them up.
“How many strands of chartreuse do you want? How many strands of white do you want? They’re all customizable. Feel free to make custom orders. If you send a picture we’ll match it. Your imagination is our only limitation. We can do 1,000 variations,” he said.
The bladed jig also features a built-in trailer keeper.
When Funk says we, he means it’s a family-run business. His brother Frank Funk, who moved to the area earlier this year from Placerville, Calif., pours the lead. His wife, Brenda, and his stepdaughter, Amanda Kraft, assemble the artificial lures per order after the latter paints them.
Funk said bass anglers from novices to veterans can appreciate the Funkbuster Baits motto: “Quality Baits at a Weekend Anglers Price.”
For more information about the Wesley Warbird 1.0 and other Funkbuster Baits products, go to www.funkbusterbaits.com or call (318) 553-7360.
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Mississippi Sportsman Magazine and MS-Sportsman.com.