Every year, attendees of the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) show are overwhelmed by a dizzying array of new lures–each promising to cast farther, dive deeper, run truer, and catch more and bigger fish than anything that came before it. In typical Outdoor Life fashion, we reserved judgment until these claims could be vetted on the wet end of a long cast. Here are a half-dozen new lures you should consider adding to your arsenal.
Sebile Bull Minnow
Power fishing is the current go-to tactic in the bass fishing world. Twitch and jekbaits dominate the decks of most bass boats, and for good reason: They locate and catch fish quickly and efficiently. The Sebile Bull Minnow impressed on several levels. First, it’s built extra-wide in the dorsal area. Traditional jerkbaits feature a slender hydrodynamic profile when worked. This thin profile tightens the wobble on the retrieve and the lure imitates a frisky baitfish. The thicker profile of the Bull Minnow produces a wider wobble that resembles a slowed baitfish (sort of like what a fat crankbait does). The wider profile also displaces more water, pushing pressure waves further outward and attracting more fish to the lure. A single internal casting rattle improves the bait’s ability to battle windy conditions while producing an audible clunk, instead of the traditional “chatter” of multi-shot rattle chambers. Although primarily designed for freshwater species, the Bull Minnow excelled on speckled trout and redfish thanks to its rugged build and wide range of paint schemes. MSRP: $8; sebileusa.com
Southwick Perfect 10 Rogue
This new cousin of the time-proven Rattlin’ Rogue is a suspending-style stick bait with a slender profile common to topwater twitch baits. At ⅝ of an ounce and 5.5 inches in length, this is a big bait. The large lip drafts a considerable amount of water, yanking the bait down to a depth of 10 to 12 feet, and due to its length the bait has an odd-yet-effective underwater swagger. When popped during retrieve, the Perfect 10 pitches and yaws sharply then centers itself back to flush in milliseconds, drawing strikes on the pause. We found the Perfect 10 worked best when thrown on 10- or 12-pound clear lines (i.e., mono or fluoro) and on long casts. Its weight allows it to stay down in the strike zone longer than many comparable baits. This lure is perfect for those times when you have to cover a lot of water in search of inactive fish, and the Perfect 10 really shines when retrieved with crisp rod tip pops followed by prolonged pauses. MSRP: $7; smithwicklures.com
Strike King KVD HC Flat Side
The Flat Side found its way onto our list for its ability to draw strikes when other crankbaits elicited yawns on highly-pressured waters. Designed with input from pro fisherman Kevin VanDam, the lure’s skinny profile and flat sides produce an erratic swimming action. Wider, more rotund crankbaits rule the water. As such, fish grow wary of them. The flat-sided bait, however, has a unique action and the planar sides produce a more pronounced flash than their pudgy counterparts. At just ⅜ ounces, the Flat Side is on the small side and suited for anglers who prefer smaller profile crankbaits. The main advantage here is considerably less effort required to crank the bait all day. Although small, the Flat Side easily dives to eight feet, even on light line. Lacking rattles, the bait is pleasantly stealthy in waters where every other bait clatters and clanks as it rumbles by fish. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a single baitfish that makes a metallic rattling sound as it fins along. MSRP: $6; strikeking.com
Fred Arbogast Buzz Plug
Fred Arbogast started designing and selling lures in 1926. I’m sure he would do a double-take at his namesake Buzz Plug–hands down the coolest bait introduced at this year’s ICAST show. The freakish deceiver looks as if it stepped off the soundstage of a science fiction thriller, seemingly sharing a pedigree with Schwarzenegger’s Predator and Sigourney Weaver’s Alien. It’s a potent morph of topwater, soft-plastic frog, and buzz bait–rolled into one awesome fish catcher. The heavy-weight bait (a full ounce) casts like a cruise missile and is equipped with an upturned rear double hook, which credibly sidesteps nasties and fouls. The round keel and large prop thrashes frantically while wobbling off-kilter on retrieve, producing a presentation unlike anything in the buzzbait genre. Beyond its anomalous aesthetics, this plug can be fished as a standard buzzbait and used to cause a ruckus; it can also be strategically paused, allowing the prop to rise out of the water triggering a strike (traditional buzzbaits sink if paused). We also threw the Buzz Plug deep into dense cover, working it slowly, occasionally hopping and skittering it like a traditional supple frog on a high rod tip. This plug works wonders on largemouths, but it will shine for muskie, pike, and other predatory fish, too. It would also be well-suited for aggressive redfish and persnickety snook in less-than-ideal water conditions. MSRP: $6; arbogastlures.com
Gene Larew 5″ Biffle Big Bug
Soft plastic introductions typically outnumber hard baits 3-to-1 at ICAST. This year was no exception, as there was plenty of creepy-crawly critters in seemingly every other vendor booth. A bait that caught our eye (and subsequently many fish on the water) was the Biffle Big Bug. Named after Elite Series Pro Tommy Biffle, this creature bait is gigantic and has a solid head with a hollow body cavity and raised ridges along its length. It sports six tentacles, a super-thin “tail” (one resembling Miley Cyrus’ tongue), and two legs with paddles on the ends. It can be rigged in any manner and fished as a worm-like bait (Texas rigged), bottom bounced, flipped, pitched, punched, Carolina rigged, jig-rigged, and free swum. We caught our best fish crawling it along the bottom on a heavy Biffle Hardhead articulating jig head (a.k.a. “bottom buggin”). A slow, straight retrieve worked best–no customary hopping or twitching required. When drug along the bottom, this wide-body churns mud and whatever else is in its path. The technique imitates a crawfish foraging in the slop. We rigged ours with a rattle in the hollow body cavity to entice otherwise inactive fish. MSRP: $6; genelarew.com
Berkley PowerBait Rib Snake
Berkley has been producing killer scented fish catchers in the PowerBait line for what seems like forever. In bygone years, skeptics raised eyebrows at the lofty claims; however, today nearly every fishermen squirrels away some form of PB in his arsenal. The latest entry into the lineup is the Rib Snake. With its ringed profile, the soft plastic produces significant water displacement, each individual rib moving water on its own. Given each bait sports more than 30 ribs, that translates into quite a bit of displacement for a 5.5-inch bait. The increased surface area also helps with scent dispersion. The ringed circumferential protuberances add size to the bait’s forward section, while it narrows to a slender tail and petite flicker-style tip. The Rib Snake excelled in finesse presentations, i.e. when drop-shot or paired with a shaky head jig. Each rigs boated both largemouths and smallmouths. And while this may sound a bit rudimentary, the Rib Snake’s packaging features the recommended hook size and style for the particular bait. This assists fishermen in tuning the Rib Snake for the best action as determined by the bait’s design engineers–and would know better than them? MSRP: $5; berkley-fishing.com
All summer Todd Kuhn has been testing new baits. Use his guide to stack your tackle box in this offseason or hammer some fall fish.