You can’t catch the same pressured bass year in and year out with one lure, so unless we keep showing these fish different baits, they get wise to our tricks. Here’s a look at some of the new bass baits introduced at ICAST.
1. 13 Fishing Shadow Spin
Spybaits have recently exploded onto the bass scene, but 13 Fishing gives this stealthy technique a new twist by integrating elements of swimbaits to the spybaiting game. Like standard spybaits, the Shadow Spin sports a custom machined aluminum prop on its nose, but its back end features a wedge-tail paddle. The result is a subtle bait with flash and vibration, complemented by a kicking action. Balanced for an attention-getting shimmy on the fall, the Shadow Spin includes HD Holographic eyes, high-def finishes and VMC Premium PTFE coated hybrid treble hook. ($20; 13fishing.com)
2. A Band of Anglers Dartprop Pro SK A
Expanding the Hyperlastics line, renowned lure designer Patrick Sebile created this minnow-style bait with props at both ends for flashy, enticing motion throughout the water column. The proprietary Softough material provides a supple, buoyant profile that’s strong enough to stand up to aggressive bites. Fixed to a weighted EWG hook, the front prop steadily spins when the bait is in motion, while the molded-in rear prop spins erratically with various retrieves. At 5 1/2 inches and 5/8 ounce, the Dartprop Pro is available in six colors. ($10; www.abandofanglers.com)
3. Bagley Balsa Wake
Strengthened by Bagley’s exclusive heat compression molding process and fortified with a wire-through design, this shallow search bait is made to withstand the bumps and bruises associated with fishing through cover. Also, this highly buoyant bait includes a precision internal weighting system that optimizes casting accuracy. Made to run just below the surface, the Balsa Wake’s steeply angled square lip creates alluring wobble and allows the bait to crawl across various cover without snagging. This 2 1/4-inch, 5/16-ounce bait is sold in eight colors. ($10; www.tacklewarehouse.com)
4. Berkley Hit Stick
Taking the upside of balsa — that enticing roll — and eliminating its inherent fragility was Berkley’s objective with this floating minnow bait. The innovative bait maker did so by building the Hit Stick from durable Polycarbonate and ABS materials for strength and consistency, while embedding a proprietary FlashDisc into the bait. The FlashDisc makes the bait facilitates casting and creates the rolling action favored by balsa fans, while a high-pitch rattle hails attention and ultra-sharp Fusion19 hooks snare anything that bites. It is available in seven sizes and 22 colors. ($6-$8; berkley-fishing.com/)
5. Big Bite BFE
Taking the best of two common flipping forms, Big Bite created what looks like a cross between a beaver and a tube. The Best Flipper Ever (BFE) comprises a solid body with rings that increase the profile without the bulk that can impede hook sets. A thin tail and narrow appendages give the bait a gliding fall like a tube, while the bait’s overall durability and slim form make it effective at reaching into a variety of cover.
“The Best Flipper Ever is truly designed to flip coast to coast,” says bass pro Bradley Hallman. “From the grass mats of Florida to the tules of California and all the bushes in between. This is one bait I can travel the country with.”
Available in 10 colors. ($4; bigbitebaits.com/product/bfe/)
6. Chasebaits Ripple Cicada
Capitalizing on nature’s fascination with the periodically occurring insect, Chasebaits made this 1.75-inch, 1/5-ounce bait with a soft, hollow body wrapped in a ripped surface that creates enticing wave motion. UV enhancements, clear wings accented with glitter-flash and skeletal outlines, realistic antennae and strike point eyes present a fish-attracting image. The wide profile body stimulates immediate interest by hitting the water with the impact of a live cicada, while the the crawling wings create a low intensity “pop-n-roll” commotion. Use a stop-and-go retrieve and those wings help the bait hop across lily pads or other low-profile cover. Built with tow-point through-wire construction, the Ripple Cicada comes in seven colors. ($12.50; chasebaitusa.com)
7. Culprit Flutter Craw
Anglers who throw Texas rigs, swim jigs and articulated football heads often reach for creature baits, craws, or double tail grubs. Culprit’s thought: Why not combine something from each of these popular shapes into a single bait? That’s what the 4-inch Flutter Craw brings to the table. With appendages front, rear and middle, the bait creates constant motion. Even when stopped on the bottom, the Flutter Craw’s forward-facing legs appear to be reaching forward. ($5.50; culprit.com)
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8. Gamakatsu Underspin Head
Anchoring this familiar form is the serious firepower needed to separate big fish from heavy cover and reel them to the boat. Giving anglers the ability to apply maximum pressure to big fish, Gamakatsu equips its new Underspin Head with a heavy wire, 60-degree hook made for heavy braid and fluorocarbon applications. A streamlined head glides easily through cover, while a Spring Lock holds your trailer in optimal position. The recessed eyes offer a target point, while the small, chrome Willow-leaf blade is a deal-closer. Available sizes, 3/16-, 1/4-, 3/8- and 1-ounce. ($4.86; gamakatsu.com)
9. Netbait Flex Worm
Strength with flexibility might sound like the title of a leadership seminar, but it’s actually a cool idea from Netbait, which designed its Flex Worm to firmly hold hooks and shaky heads, but also deliver the finessey, realistic looks that picky fish demand. Following a solid upper end (1.5 inch), the worm transitions into tapering ball & joint body design that delivers the convincing action. This mid-range motion complements the tail action for a steady motion that delivers the bites. Sold in 5- and 7-inch sizes, with 10 colors. ($4.30; netbait.com)
10. Rapala OG 6 Slim
The brainchild of professional angler Ott DeFoe, whose custom bait making dates back to his East Tennessee youth, Rapala’s OG Slim is a flat-sided balsa crankbait built for medium wobble and a tight lateral action. DeFoe wanted a thin, lightweight circuit board lip for the fish-tempting deflections that allow balsa baits to show off their enchanting rise. At 2.75 inches, the 1/2-ounce bait dives to 6 feet and comes equipped with No. 3 VMC Hybrid Trebles. Available in 14 colors. ($11; rapala.com)
11. Savage Gear 3D Bluegill
Playing on a bass’ well-documented taste for bream, Savage Gear bolstered its 3D Bluegill with enhanced movement and wrapped it in ultra-realistic photoprint finishes that closely resemble the real deal. A 4-segmented body gives the bait incredibly lifelike motion at low or high speeds, while the scent-infused body furthers the convincing. Featuring a heavy-duty jig hook, the 4-inch, 3/4-ounce bait comes in six colors. ($10; savagegear-americas.com)
12. Strike King Hybrid Hunter
No bait does it all, but Strike King conceived the Hybrid Hunter with the notion of building a bait capable of playing multiple roles. Designed with a fat body, flat sides and an L-Shaped 90-degree bill, this bait produces a hard thumping, exaggerated hunting action accented by loud rattle. With these performance characteristics plus a buoyant body stimulating aggressive strikes, the Hybrid Hunter plays the roles often tasked to a lipless crankbait, jerkbait, crankbait or swimbait. Available in 3- and 3.5-inch versions.
“This bait is the most buoyant, loud, crazy-hunting shallow water bait I’ve ever used,” says Texas bass pro Todd Castledine. “With its flat sides and unique bill, no other crankbait works through cover like this bait.
“The unique L-Shaped bill makes the bait run on a horizontal plane, instead of always digging down. That allows the Hybrid Hunter to run more level. Also, with minimal resistance, you can work this bait super fast.”
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13. Z-Man Chatterbait WillowVibe
Input from Ronnie and Ron Davis, creators of the original ChatterBait, yielded a different take on the classic look with a stainless steel willow-leaf blade and an aspirin-shaped head; a combination that creates and intense vibration made with schooling fish in mind. Dressed with 3D eyes, the WillowVibe sports a 2/0 black nickel hook and wire bait keeper. Ideally paired with a finesse style trailer, this bait produces a tight action with a high frequency vibration that does the jobs often assigned to scrounger-style heads, small swimbaits and underspins. Available in four colors, the WillowVibe comes in 1/4- and 3/8-ounce sizes. ($5.99; zmanfishing.com)