Bill Lodi has always enjoyed fishing, even as a young child.
When he would catch a fish, he would pull it off the hook, hold it up and proudly say, “Now we’re ripp’n lips!”
Fishing stuck with him and so did that saying, all the way to 2008 when Lodi opened his own online tackle company by thatname—Rippn-Lips Tackle Co., which is now a trademarked name.
And now Lodi has opened his first retail store with the same name. The store is located in the same Stockbridge Square retail complex as the popular Mud Creek Coffee Shop.
Having just opened Friday, July 11, Lodi is still filling up the shelves in his store but already has an impressive supply of fishing lures of all kinds, sizes, shapes and colors, along with live bait, fishing poles, and more.
Lodi said he is excited about operating his first storefront, which has already attracted a steady stream of visitors and customers. “I want to try to offer what works on this body of water (Lake Winnebago) and Green Bay, both for the everyday angler and the tournament angler,” he said.
Family ties to Winnebago
A resident of West Bend, Lodi said he is looking to move to the Stockbridge area which he has known well from childhood on as his family had a cottage on Winnebago. Stockbridge resident and 50-year Winnebago fisherman John Zaffiro is a cousin to Lodi.
Lodi also served as a guide on Winnebago and other lakes for about five years. He entered bass, musky and walleye tournaments before focusing heavily on the walleye tournament circuit for several years. He won his first Midwest Walleye Series tournament on Green Bay.
“While fishing tournaments, I’d always hear other anglers talking about finding older lures which seemed to work better at times for guys,” Lodi said. “So I keyed in on that and would find and buy them up and re-sell them.”
Lodi started selling lures on eBay as a hobby, then opened his own eBay store and considered it a part-time job. “One thing led to another and I expanded into my own Web site, www.Rippn-Lips.com,and now also on amazon.com,which led me to open up the walk-in store in Stockbridge in Stockbridge Square.”
Lodi said opening the store is a big step but one he was ready to tackle—no pun intended. “It’s quite an accomplishment for myself and for my goals,” he said.
Passionate about their lures
Non-fishermen might not be aware nor understand the passion serious fishermen have for their lures. Finding and acquiring certain lures is part hobby, part obsession for many fishermen. “It’s phenomenal how guys try to track down lures,” Lodi said.
Lures can be made of metal, wood, plastic and other materials. The color combinations are endless. And an experienced fisherman such as Lodi really does believe success in catching fish has a lot to do with the lures and bait being used. “It all has a big impact on fish,” he said. “The fish will tell you what they want.”
Lodi said many fishermen will try a dozen different lures in a day, switching about every half hour to an hour if they are not finding success with one.
Rippn-Lips Tackle Co. sells many custom-made lures including ones hand painted by people from this area and beyond. Given a couple weeks notice, Lodi can have a lure produced to a fisherman’s specifications. He continues to do online sales as well, and that end of the business finds him shipping lures all over the world on a regular basis.
Lodi said specific fish in certain conditions also seem to prefer various types of live bait, and Rippn-Lips Tackle Co. has a wide variety of that as well. It keeps three different kinds of minnows in stock along with wax worms, red worms, night crawlers (including in flats), leeches and butter worms. A minnow punch card is offered in which customers who buy five dozen minnows get the sixth dozen free.
Lodi will gladly share tips and updates with anglers who visit his store. A dry erase board mounted to a wall in the store is already providing updated fishing reports for Lake Winnebago. Lodi called the condition of the lake’s fishery “phenomenal.” The lake is known around the world, of course, for its February sturgeon season, but the perch and walleye fishing is excellent. He said crappies also have made a strong comeback in Winnebago and are a tasty fish to eat as well. Lodi agreed that the efforts and investments of a lot of people and organizations have helped make the lake—just a stone’s throw from his store—an excellent fishing destination.
Rods, reels and more
To help fishermen of all experience levels, Rippin-Lips Tackle Co. also has a large supply of fishing poles with more on the way, along with trolling rods and reels and other supplies. Lodi designs his own line of shirts which are for sale at the store.
Next spring he said he plans to have a couple kayaks and paddle boats at the store for rental. An avid archer, Lodi also said he is considering possible future expansion into that area as well at his store.
While the store’s hours are subject to change based on what he sees happen with customer patterns, presently Rippn-Lips Tackle Co. is open 6 a. m. to 6 p. m. weekdays except Tuesdays when it is closed; Saturdays from 5 a. m. to 3 p. m.; and Sundays from 5 a. m. to 2 p. m.
Mark Sherry photo
Lodi will have to find enough time to get on the lake himself. “As things move on, maybe I can get a part-time helper here,” he said.