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Grand Forks 11-year-old broadens his outdoors horizons with fishing tackle venture

Spinners and live bait rigs, of course, are essential tackle in any walleye angler’s open-water fishing arsenal.

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Jackson Olson, 11, of Grand Forks, shows off packages of his hand-tied spinners and live bait rigs Monday, March 7, 2022. A fifth-grader at Kelley Elementary in Grand Forks, Olson is marketing the spinners and rigs under the "Jack's Tackle" brand.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – When it comes to the outdoors, there’s no such thing as an offseason for Jackson Olson.

Hunting in the fall. Ice fishing in the winter. Open water fishing in the spring and summer. A YouTube channel called Sharing Memories Outdoors for documenting some of those adventures.

As if that wasn’t enough, now, the Grand Forks 11-year-old is broadening his outdoors horizons even further by getting into the tackle business, launching a line of hand-tied spinners and live bait rigs under the “Jack’s Tackle” brand name.

Spinners and live bait rigs, of course, are essential tackle in any walleye angler’s open-water fishing arsenal.

“It was just like something that sounded like fun to do in my free time,” Jackson, a fifth-grader at J. Nelson Kelley Elementary School in Grand Forks, said on a recent Monday evening while tying spinners at the kitchen table with occasional help from his dad, Brad. “It was pretty much just my dad that asked (if I wanted to make spinners), and I said sure.”


Mastering the snell knot to tie the hooks has been the trickiest part, Jackson says, but it’s getting easier with some coaching from his dad.

“He taught me (to tie spinners), and that was quick learning, I thought,” Jackson said. “I’ve watched a lot of fishing videos,” as well.

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Jackson Olson, 11, of Grand Forks, is a picture of concentration as he ties spinners and live bait rigs Monday, March 7, 2022.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

Already in stores

The young entrepreneur’s tackle venture is only a couple of weeks old, but Home of Economy stores in Grand Forks and Devils Lake and Gene’s Sport Shop in Perham, Minnesota, already have signed on to carry the spinners and live bait rigs. And Thursday, the Grand Forks Scheels store agreed to carry the product, Brad Olson said.

Jack’s Tackle spinners consist of 5-foot snells made with 10-pound test Berkley XT monofilament line, a No. 2 VMC-brand hook and blades and beads in a variety of colors no walleye could possibly resist. The goal, Jackson says, is to tie up 10 to 12 spinners and live bait rigs a night to build up his inventory.

The first batch of Jack's Tackle was delivered to Home of Economy on Tuesday, March 8. So far, he’s tied up about 70 spinners with some help from his dad and older brother, Carter.

“It’s fun to watch him learn and grow, and it’s a rewarding experience to see that I taught him how to do it and then his passion that he wants to do it,” Brad Olson said of his son’s tackle business. “It’s not like I’m making him – he’s doing it on his own.”

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Brad Olson (right) of Grand Forks, gives his son, Jackson, a hand with tying spinners and live bait rigs Monday, March 7, 2022, at their kitchen table.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

Jackson says he hopes to have his spinners and live bait rigs in more stores – “as many as I can,” to be exact. Brad Olson, who worked more than 17 years in the retail sporting goods industry and is a partner in Northern Lights Plastics, a small company that markets ultraviolet-infused soft plastic fishing baits, helped Jackson get his foot in the door with his first order.


As an avid outdoorsman with more than 17 years in the hunting and fishing retail industry, Brad Olson knows a thing or two about having fun and selling fun to others.

“But you’re going to talk to stores going forward, right – so you can learn how to do it?” Brad Olson says to his son.

“Eventually,” Jackson replies.

Quite the process

Tying the spinners and live bait rigs is only part of the process. The tackle also has to be properly packaged so it comes out of the bag ready to use without getting tangled, as spinners and live bait rigs are prone to doing. They bought the bags online; Jackson’s mom, Jaime, took the photo on the package header; and Jackson’s grandmother, Pauline Olson of Hallock, Minnesota, designed the logo.

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The beads, blades, hooks and clevices that make up a walleye spinner rig await assembly Monday, March 7, 2022. Jackson Olson, 11, of Grand Forks, is selling spinners and live bait rigs under the Jack's Tackle brand.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

“It’s like a picture and it says Jack’s Tackle and it’s like a dock and a boat,” Jackson said, explaining the packaging in the understated way of a fifth-grader. “And then it says where you can order it.”

Because Jackson is a minor, Brad Olson says he registered the upstart company under his name, both with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office and the Office of State Tax Commissioner.

He was able to do everything online.

“It’s actually quite easy,” Olson said.


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A Jack's Tackle spinner is packaged and ready for the store shelf Monday, March 7, 2022.
Brad Dokken / Grand Forks Herald

As the budding entrepreneur he is, Jackson says he plans to start selling walleye jigs, as well. To start with, at least, they’ll stick with painting plain, leadhead jigs that are already poured instead of dealing with hot lead, Brad Olson says.

Most weekends, of course, will still be devoted to hunting and fishing, activities in which Olson and his two sons definitely participate more than most.

“I’m the only one in my class that hunts and fishes more than once a year,” Jackson proclaimed.

When does he find time for homework?

“I don’t get homework,” he said with a hint of a smile.

For more information on Jack’s Tackle, email bargainbrad@gmail.com .

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Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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