Perception is reality, or at least to a hungry largemouth bass it is. Artificial lures that can craftily mimic the appearance of a predator’s natural forage undoubtedly become the most successful and sought after gadgets on the market. Each year tackle manufacturers labor with the goal of creating the most unique and realistic offerings possible, with design concepts ranging from snakes, shiners, mullet and mice, to frogs, shrimp and even birds—all molded, painted, packaged, and eventually purchased by anglers with high hopes of tempting big bucketmouths.
One principle in freshwater lure design that’s become popular as of late are lures that imitate multiple baitfish. This concept which gave birth to the tandem bladed spinnerbait, and in recent years the controversial Alabama rig, was reincarnated at this year’s ICAST show when the folks at LiveTarget unveiled their latest creation aptly named the BaitBall. The new lure design, which took home the Best of Show award in the hard lure category, literally broke the mold on conventional thinking. Instead of building another traditional multi-pieced product with several attachments, the LiveTarget folks took three individual baitfish replicas and consolidated them within a single clear shell. The result is a series of highly detailed hardbaits that appear as trios of fleeing shad, minnows and other baitfish when worked through the water column.
Before you plan on spending your next hard-earned dollar on another peg-hooked lemon, try a few lures that imitate natural forage and hopefully the illusion won’t be your own.
“Four and half years we’ve been working on developing this bait,” said Richard Brouwer, Promotions Manager for LiveTarget. “A lot of crankbaits and hard jerkbaits have always replicated just one single prey, but bass and other game fish see lures not just as a large single fish, but as a small group of baitfish in one profile so we capitalized on this theory and created a new lure to replicate it.”
The new line of lures are available in round and squarebill crankbaits with diving depths up to 10 feet, and topwater and subsurface twitchbaits with 0- to 4-foot depth ranges in a dozen color patterns. The BaitBall hit shelves in December and we’re eagerly awaiting its results.
Born from the creative mind of soft plastic guru Mark Nichols, DOA’s newest release called the Airhead is the company’s breakthrough lure into the freshwater market. If you’ve ever watched a wild shiner on its last breath, twitching erratically towards the top of the water column before slowly descending to its death, then you’ll be pleased with the wounded bait action the Airhead presents. Ideal for enticing reaction strikes over heavy vegetation and finding suspended fish through submerged weeds, this versatile swimbait employs a slow paddletail action, which pushes a sizeable wake when reeled across the surface. Rigged with a VMC 1/8 oz. wide-gap worm hook, the neutrally buoyant lure becomes a slow descending jerkbait that perfectly replicates a wounded baitfish. Sold in packs of six with 21 different colors to choose from, the freshwater favorites are golden shiner and greenback.
Another winner from this year’s ICAST in the soft lure category is an intricately detailed and realistic hollow-bodied frog lure named the LunkerFrog. Produced by the guys at LunkerHunt, this lure is the real deal. Frog lures are designed to trigger big explosions in the vicinity of thick pads and matted vegetation, but after releasing this ½ oz. minesweeper to the masses, LunkerHut took the art of deception to an entirely new level. Appearing as a toad that’s naturally thrusting itself across the top of the water, the bait’s incredibly lifelike legs extend when the lure is twitched, then quickly retract each time the retrieve is paused. The natural flexing of the lure’s hind limbs creates one of the most realistic strides seen in frog baits today. The body core is designed with a soft collapsible plastic and floats at a 45-degree angle to increase hook up ratios.
With large volumes of new lures continually saturating the freshwater market each year, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of product to choose from. Before you plan on spending your next hard-earned dollar on another peg-hooked lemon, try a few lures that imitate natural forage and hopefully the illusion won’t be your own.