Mike and Miguel Caraballo
Hickory, North Carolina
Even though they're great for catching fish, traditional rubber skirts break - a lot. Whether they get snagged and rip or fall apart over time - sometimes corroding right in the package - rubber skirts aren't known for their durability. Some anglers have even sworn off using rubber skirts because they just weren't lasting.
When Mike Caraballo heard about this problem, he knew there had to be a better way.
"I was talking to my friends who are into competitive fishing, and they all talked about how their rubber skirts kept breaking," Mike said. I said to them, "Maybe I could come up with something that would be useful."
Mike had previously spent 50 years making machines for the textile business in New York.
"I like to build things," Mike said. "I have a gift for building machines."
So when he heard about all the problems with rubber skirts not lasting, he thought it was the perfect chance to put his skills to work.
Building a better skirt
Through hard work and experimentation, Mike developed a rubber skirt with a unique metal collar and a machine that creates them, a patented design that is at the heart of his business, Caraballo Skirts
"Rubber typically expands over time, but that's not good for the bait. It corrodes, and breaks easily," Mike said. "A metal collar solves those problems, and it lasts much, much longer."
With the help of his hand-built machine, he can make 20 skirts per minute. He also needed to create baits for his skirt to fit on, so Mike expanded into spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and jigs, all outfitted with metal-collared skirts.
"All the feedback we've gotten has been positive," Mike said. "People use these in freshwater, catching bass, but they've also been using them out in saltwater."
A family-owned business
Thanks to the durable metal collars, the baits are taking off. Mike's son Miguel recently joined Caraballo Skirts to help marketing and promotion for the expanding business.
"This is the first time my dad and I have been together on a project," Miguel said. "We've always dreamed we would work together and do something that was going to make a difference. Our relationship has gotten even better because we’re no longer distant - now we’re doing something together."
For Mike, expanding his business with his son is fulfilling a long-held dream."
It's always been my goal that my son would take over my business," Mike said. "That dream was interrupted with textiles, but now it has come back."
The father-son team is proud of their product, and hope to get it in the hands of more fishermen to help people catch fish without worrying about whether their bait will break.
"We're hoping to do something that impacts the guys out there who are fishing," Miguel said. "Those who are fishing for fun, who want to go out there and catch fish, who want to buy something that’s durable and long-lasting that they can use again and again. They’ll get more use out our bait."
You can find Caraballo Skirt's metal-collared skirts and hundreds of other unique fishing products in the Artisan Fishing marketplace.