Hack's tackles 25 years

Mike 'Hack' Patterson jumped into the fishing business 25 years ago and has managed to succeed


August 8, 2018

Joshua Wood

Michael "Hack" Patterson fills out a fishing license for a customer on Monday morning.

For 25 years, Michael "Hack" Patterson has been the trusted name when it comes to tackle, flies and guiding. Right up front, Hack will tell you that he is probably a little too honest and that his language won't be the definition of professional. According to him, though, that's probably why he has been in business for two-and-a-half decades: some people like his frankness.

"I'm a pretty straightforward type of person," Hack said.

Before going into business, Patterson had already been working on tying his own flies and selling them wholesale. One day, in 1993, he took time during his lunch break from the Louisiana-Pacific Sawmill to talk with Bob McIlvaine. McIlvaine owned a real estate business at the time where Century 21 and Cary Financial Services are now.

McIlvaine told Hack that Val Evans was looking at renting a small building used as headquarters during the construction of what is now J.W. Hugus and Co. When Evans told him that rent starting out would be $175/month, Hack didn't wait and told his wife, Connie Patterson, after the fact.

"I went home and told Connie. She just about freaked out," said Hack.

For the first three years of owning his own business, Patterson still worked at the sawmill and would head over to his shop afterwards. At times, he would sit in his shop until nine o'clock at night hoping someone would come into his shop. His first tackle order, not including the flies he tied himself, was $1,300. Hack admits that doesn't go very far, especially when some of the reels he carries go for nearly $500 apiece.

"Things have really changed over the years," said Patterson. "I've really grown and I've been very, very lucky in business."

The local business owner freely admits that he was unsure of what exactly he was doing when he first started up. He wasn't sure of the markup he needed to do on his inventory and everything was more or less a matter of trial and error. When he first started, Hack's Tackle was the fourth shop of its kind to open up in the Valley. Now, 25 years later, it's the only one left.

"I guess I'm the only one dumb enough to stay in," Hack said.

Hack admits he probably charges less than he should for his flies at $1.75, especially when he bought similar flies 20 years ago that were priced at $2.50. Even though he knows he could probably charge more for some of his items, it doesn't sit right with him.

"You gotta be fair to be people, as fair as you possibly can," Patterson said.

Despite what could be seen as a low markup on retail items, it doesn't seem to have hurt Hack any. Starting out with a couple of old jon boats, Hack's Tackle now boasts four drift boats none of which are older than four years. He also has a list of anywhere from 15 to 20 people he can call to help him guide clients. Even his guiding business is lower priced than it probably should be.

"I want these people to have the opportunity. If they want to get on this river and look at what we have here, I want them to be able to do that," said Patterson. "I truly do feel like that will come back to me in some form. That trip is probably a wash for me, in fact I probably lose money, but people just love it."

What started out as a business of just Hack and his twin sons has blossomed over 25 years. On any given day, walk into the little red shack by the North Platte River and you'll see Patterson giving people advice on where to fish, what to use and how to get there. If you have time, he'll even get you a cup of coffee and talk with you for a while. Even though he knows he doesn't have another 25 years in the business, what keeps him going for now is knowing that he can give that personal touch that people have come to enjoy.

Keith McLendon

Hack visits with Mary Pigg at Friday's open house.


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