Lure of the Open Spaces

Tom Rice displays his invention, the Lur-Lok. When it is open, top, the pocket-sized device can be loaded up with fishing lures. When it is closed, bottom, it keeps the lures from getting tangled and can be stored in an angler's pocket. Mail Tribune / Jim CravenJim Craven

A life of clean living and lots of fishing has left Tom Rice looking younger than his 78 years.

The Medford resident's love of fishing, which has taken him to lakes and streams all over the country and into Canada, fired his imagination into creating the Lur-Lok.

How to get one

To order a $5 Lur-Lok, e-mail Tom Rice at

"I just saw a need for something and made it," Rice says from the kitchen of the home he's owned for close to 40 years.

Tired of scrambling for a fishing lure when his line broke and having to wade to dry land to reach his tackle box, Rice fashioned a pocket-sized holder that can house up to 20 lures.

The Lur-Lok is a simple design. Rice and his machinist brother used an injection mold to create the clear plastic casing that snaps together to lock the lures in place.

The Lur-Lok opens like a pocket knife and has spaces between the lures to keep them from bunching into a tangled mess. Its brochure reads, "Proudly Made in the USA."

Rice holds up a Lur-Lok with 10 large Alaskan lures snapped inside.

"If you were to throw these in a tackle box together it would take an hour to get them apart," he says. "Not to mention you'd get hooked trying to sort them out."

The Lur-Lok can fit in your pocket or attach to a belt for easy access.

The Lur-Lok sells for $5, but Rice has found a dearth of takers in the 20 years since he started making and marketing them out of his own house.

"It's all marketing, marketing, marketing," Rice says. "If you don't have a way to get the word out about a product, all you do is bang your head against the wall."

Sporting goods outlets in Medford have sold the Lur-Lok over the years, but he says they've done little to push the item in their stores.

In all, Rice probably has made between 4,000 and 5,000 Lur-Loks. He still has 500 or so stored at his home.

"I'd sell them all to someone who wanted them," Rice says, laughing. "I wish there was more interest, but that's the way it is."

Rice has sold Lur-Loks in Alaska to weekend warrior anglers looking for an easy way to hit the streams.

"They liked them because it was simple and they could keep all their lures in one place," Rice says. "One place sold the Lur-Lok with lures already inside."

Rice isn't bitter that his product isn't a mainstay in sporting good stores nationwide.

"I'm happy where I am," he says. "I own everything I have and get to fish almost as much as I want. I'd sell the whole business, with the molds included, if someone wanted to buy it."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail

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