Behind The Baits: Interview with Chris Piha of Llungen Lures
Each month, Musky Shop will be having a quick chat with the people behind the companies that make some of your favorite Musky Lures. It's our hope to give our dedicated customers an inside account of what drives these folks to make the leap from fisherman to businessman, producing some of our favorite tackle and providing the industry with the tools we need to get muskies in the net. For January, we reached out to Chris Piha of Llungen Lures to find out what makes him tick.
Musky Shop: What was the deciding push that made you want to start producing baits?
Chris Piha: I grew up in what I would consider lower middle class. Both my parents worked really hard to provide for us. After coming back into the Air Force as an Officer in my late 20's I must admit it was the first time I experienced a bit of financial freedom. To be honest though I had no idea what to do with my money! At the time I was working for a Deputy Group Commander who I would consider pretty financially savvy and just all around smart. One day I mentioned I really wasn't sure about how to save and plan for the future. Like most great mentors I've met in the Air Force he set up a meeting for all the young officers in our organization and walked us through some options. One thing he said towards the end stuck with me. He said "You all are young, don't be afraid to take a risk. You're young enough to recover from it and who knows you might hit a home run". Not two days later the former owner of Llungen Lures, Chad Cain, reached out to let me know he was thinking of selling Llungen and to let him know if I needed any baits beforehand. I was a pretty big fan of the line and I said I would put together an order. I put on my running shoes and went for like a 7 mile run. During the run what the Colonel said hit me like a ton of bricks. The thought crept into my mind. What if Llungen Lures was or could be the "risk" he spoke of? I got home and tossed the idea out to my wife. She took some serious convincing but eventually signed off. I knew walking in there was simply no way to do it alone so I called my best friend Matt and asked if he was interested. He was and we were off to the races!
Musky Shop: Who were your fishing influences as a young fisherman?
Chris Piha: My grandfather, father, and uncles all were musky fishermen. The best part is that musky fishing taught me so much more about life than I knew at the time. The values; persistence, hard work, determination, resiliency, and dedication all trickled into other aspects of my life and pursuits. For me this is and will always be the most important aspect of the sport and life. The ones I looked up to most were teaching me much more than fishing.....
Musky Shop: What is the Best Musky Fishing Advice you ever received?
Chris Piha: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Musky Shop: What is your personal favorite Llungen selection?
Chris Piha: That's a tough one! Lures are simply tools. You wouldn't grab a hammer to screw drywall screws in. Every lure has a time and place. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in our Tandem Nutbusters. I like to use them in the summer and fall to reach fish that are deeper in the water column. I also rely heavily on our LT-9 to cover water quickly to locate active fish. Finally, our crankbait line is bulletproof. There are so many options for trolling and casting you can't go wrong.
Musky Shop: Number one requested LLungen from clients?
Chris Piha: .22 Short. Absolute fish catching machine!!!!
Musky Shop: Favorite musky water & why?
Chris Piha: Lake of the Woods. I would compare it to a 1 Million piece Ravensburg puzzle. You can spend a lifetime trying to figure it all out and you wouldn't get bored. I've been going since Operation Musky 2 in 2008. Every year it is one of the most special weeks that I always look forward to spending with my dad.
Musky Shop: Personal best musky and story behind it?
Chris Piha: The biggest musky I've ever landed was taken on Jan 2 in New Jersey and was 51.5". I don't always have much input on where the Air Force decides to send me. So when I found out I was headed to NJ I started my research. The state actually has some amazing fisheries. In fact, despite my wifes objections the day we arrived after moving clear across the country from California I decided to check it out for myself. Surprisingly, I actually caught my first musky in NJ that day. While I was entertained, I don't think she was as excited as I was haha! It was on that lake about 18 months later that I landed the 51.5". It was cold, but the fish out there seemed to go in very short windows that time of year if the ice hadn't set up. I just so happened to bump into a big girl that day. I was fishing alone too so that made it even more crazy. I saw the whole thing unfold too. She tee-boned my bait about 10 feet from the boat. Funny thing was that there was only one other crazy fisherman on the water that day. He just so happens to be on my Pro-Staff and is a close family friend; John Sellser. That was the first time we actually met.
We'd like to thank Chris Piha for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions that might interest our Blog readers. It's always interesting to hear musky insight from the people behind the baits we are throwing everyday, so that we can appreciate them as fellow anglers and outdoorsmen that are taking the time to engineer the tools we need to keep fishing.