We recently caught up with Dwain Batey, owner of BaitWerks custom lure painting. We are fortunate to know some of the best painters in the business and have had work with all of them. Since Dwain is up and coming in the business and his work was being talked about by some pros recently, we thought we’d catch up with him to see how he got started and what he’s been up to lately.
Batey is real humble but his work speaks volumes. He offers a plethora of options and will design off of a customer’s idea from scratch. We love his craw and bluegill patterns. He’s constantly trying new patterns and pushing the envelop as well as researching what patterns the bass relate to best. When asked about his own work, he simply said, “I like to paint something special, and I hope it shows.”
W2F: How did you get started in Bait painting?
Batey: When i was in high school, our art teacher gave us a short lesson in air brushing. I immediately went home and bought an airbrush to start painting lures. I painted for bass club members, friends and myself for years. The key to bringing my work to the next level was in 2002 or so when I started using an epoxy clear coat, which really gave my work the durable finish that it needed.
W2F: What is your most requested color?
Batey: It varies by season, but right now I would say the Reehm Gill, a color I worked with Bassmaster Elite Series angler Clark Reehm to design to mimic bluegill because of the bluegill spawn going on in many parts of the country.
W2F: Why do you think guys get baits custom painted by you?
There are a lot of reasons, some guys want colors that manufacturers dont make and I work with them to bring their idea to life. Others want me to copy their favorite color from one manufacturer to other baits that are not offered in that pattern. There are guys who fish pressured lakes that feel they need to have something different than the masses to gain that edge. The common denominator to all of their choices is confidence. Having a bait that gives you a fuzzy feeling inside goes a long way, and it doesn’t hurt that they catch fish.
W2F: How well does your paint job hold up?
I use a clearcoat that gives that deep wet look, holds the 3d eyes on for the life of the bait, and holds up as well as any factory paint job and better than most. I have baits I throw regularly that are several years old and still holding up well, and I have clients that report the same.
W2F: How much does a custom paint cost?
The base price for painting a customer supplied bait under 6 inches long is $14.00, but I give discounts based on how many baits are ordered and how many different patterns. Obviously its easier for me to paint 10 baits in one pattern, than to do 5 baits in 5 different patterns. I also run specials on my website regularly that bring the price below $10 per paint job. Right now the special is getting 8 customer supplied baits painted in two patterns for $69.95.
W2F: What’s the timeline for getting a bait back?
It varies depending on my backlog. Right now, it’s down to only a few weeks, but before I quit my day job to do this full time it was several months. I get them done as fast as I can and still maintain the high level of quality that my customers expect.
W2F: What does someone need to do to get a bait painted by you?
There are directions on how to send baits to be painted, pricing, a gallery of designs, and all of the contact information to send any questions on my website, baitwerks.com
W2F: Any pros using your painted baits?
I’ve been working with Clark Reehm now for several years. There are many others, but they pay for their baits like everyone else so I wont name drop. It’s a double edged sword. On one hand, it makes me feel good that they feel like my baits are good enough to keep secret, but on the other hand, it would be nice to brag about who is fishing them.
W2F: What’s the craziest bait you custom painted?
Batey: The crazy things are not baits, I have painted SavePhace masks, trolling-motor heads and lots of other fishing related items. At one time, I used to do custom auto airbrushing and also paint motocross helmets as well as working in a body shop. So i have the skills to paint on most things people bring me. I always say ‘I’ll paint anything that will hold still long enough for me to paint it.’
W2F: Any interesting projects that you are currently working on?
I have been doing some work for Tru-Tungsten
lately helping them design color patterns for some new and exciting baits that will be coming out in the future. They are not all hard baits and some of them are going to be real game changers. I can’t elaborate on the “secret” projects, but the first thing we worked on was developing some new and exciting colors for their Mad Maxx frog line, they are not in stores yet but will be soon hopefully.