By Elllis Kirby
Since the beginning of the sport of fishing, anglers have searched for the ultimate in baits that both attract bass and yield a high percentage of catches once fish have been enticed to strike the artificial "food" source.
Through the years, lures have been available in categories as to the application and presentations that best suit their particular purpose.
Some lures are very seasonable, meaning that they are most effective during certain times of the year, particular water temperatures, certain depths or else suited only to somewhat limited terrain to be both effective and efficient. Others are conceived to be an any-time-any-where bait, those that are attractive to bass in all temperatures, seasons, depths and any type of cover. These are the baits that most anglers consider, and commonly use, as search baits to quickly locate bass. These are also baits that can cover large amounts of water quickly and have all the fish attracting qualities that can be packed into such a small package. They are primarily used for locating bass, and many anglers are guilty of abandoning them after the job has been done to locate fish and then move on to another technique. After all, it caught the first one so why wouldn't it catch many more? It didn't lose its appeal after just one fish, and bass are rarely alone.
At the top of the search bait list in most angler's arsenal is the ever trusted spinnerbait. It's all terrain design and versatility at all depths capability makes it the most widely used bait of its kind.
As the years rolled by, the spinnerbait has been the focus of experimentation probably more so than any other choice in an angler's tackle box. New blade designs, wire size, head configurations, colors, skirt materials, multiple blades and the list just goes on and on. The use of titanium for the wire frame swept a revolution over the spinnerbait industry, and forever changed the old standby basics of the bait itself.
Top tournament anglers experimented with all the tricks to modify these baits to make them even more efficient. From slightly twisting willow leaf blades to send out a different vibration, to hammering out flat the very tips of those blades to change the rotation "tinkering" with spinnerbait performance has become almost an art form. Beyond that, there's the use of a multitude of sizes, colors and blade shape combinations that are almost endless.
Then comes the next step, skirts, long skirts, short skirts, bulky profiles and less strands for a finesse approach. White, chartreuse, silver, gold tints, reds or blues? Where do I possibly begin one might ask? How did the manufacturers narrow down all of those choices to package a basic color and blade selection for their customers?
Manufacturers generally select anglers that are very efficient at narrowing down the basics to give the everyday angler a good pre-tested selection to choose from, which helps eliminate some of the errors that the casual or beginning angler might make without the assistance of the field testers. They are spending countless hours to narrow down the basics in colors, and versatility, which will give you the best performance as soon as you open the package. You might also conclude that a spinnerbait is a spinnerbait, and requires very little testing since the basic structure of the bait is a time-proven design. The truth is that companies actually invest sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on technology, design changes, testing, packaging and marketing before a single bait is introduced to the retail market.
By now if you are following along, the entire emphasis has been on attracting the bass to the bait, but what about the most important? The business end. The basic design of past baits has always been a basic wire frame attached to a selected hook, which is held together with a molded lead head to tie it all together. The head is then painted, possibly eyes stuck on and a depression is left in the head to attach and hold the skirt in place.
Okay... we have now built a spinnerbait with all the necessary features, but with only one very common problem left undone. How do we solve the age old problem of missed strikes and bass jumping or plowing through heavy cover to result in the bait being dislodged due to its very design?
A new company called Leverage Lures has finally thought outside of not only the box but the wrapper too, and come up with one of the most innovative improvements in both spinnerbait and buzzbait technology that has hit the market in years.
The Leverage hook is attached to a super strength cable from the frame of the lure that allows the extremely sharp hook to stay rigid, but flexible, on retrieve yet not allow the bait to be used as a wedge to pry itself loose during the fight. The hook literally follows the fish and cannot get out of position which results in far fewer missed strikes and so far for me a 100 percent landing ratio. The flexible cable makes it impossible for the wire to be used as a tool for dislodging the hook since the bass cannot get a straight push or twist against the body of the bait itself. As well it makes the bait more durable, since one can only re-bend and straighten wire so many times before it fails and breaks. And yes the titanium baits do break.
Even more revolutionary is the fact that the woven design of the cable is flexible and does not retain memory or become weakened by the repetition of bending.
Trailer hooks are more effective when applicable, since they are also free to travel in any position that the strike occurs. Of course, if a fish is caught by foul-hooking, then it's effectiveness may be slightly diminished. But even under those circumstances the advantage of the cable design increases the angler's chances 10-fold. I especially like those odds for a change and we've all had that happen to us.
The Leverage buzzbait is designed in the same manner, and we all know how we put our buzzbaits to the test. Of course we put them in very compromising situations, and in places that we already know that the odds stack well against us on actually pulling a big fish out. Even still, we willingly fire it in there time after time and take our chances on the outcome. The cable system really shines here on both number of hookups and retaining the fish until we can sometimes figure out how to get to it.
During a recent test of our own, Ron Peters on and I let our curiosity get the best of us. Pulling some baits off of the shelf, we took them straight to Monticello where as many of you know is the home of heartbreak when it comes to losing big fish. Straight to the back of Blundell Creek we went and began casting a 3/8-ounce basic white and chartreuse buzzbait and spinnerbait through the matted and twisted lily pad stalks.
Loaded with heavy line, heavy rods and reel drags locked, we were prepared to do battle with the monsters of the nasty. The very first strike was an 8-pound beauty on the buzzbait, and of course the tug of war was on. Naturally after a brief back-and-forth struggle, the fish wrapped up in the pad stalks and the job of going to the bait was at hand. To our surprise, the fish was still hooked and frantically whaling away at the hook trying to get free. Being in only a foot of water, I simply reached down and lipped my prize! I can assure you that very few, if any, other baits would have held that fish for that period of time on its own with slack line.
A fluke you say? Not at all. We did not miss or lose a single fish during the entire afternoon, and actually had other anglers asking us how in the heck we were getting all of those big fish out of that mess. They, as us, being veterans of the lake had come to expect a less than reasonable chance at such fish throughout the years as just being part of fishing Monticello. Thanks to some very smart gents at Leverage, the odds are now turned to the angler and the score card on that day was anglers 11 bass 0.
One could only conclude that these products would make a huge difference in not only tournament competition, but the smiles added to the everyday angler in fishing plea sure at the end of a day's fishing. I can assure you that my eyes were wide open during this product test, and both baits will be tied to a rod and ready on my deck from now on.
As a professional angler, the first thing you learn is to leave as little to chance as possible and to always use any product that gives you the leverage! The next time that you're in your favorite tackle store, ask for them and give them a try. You'll be so impressed that you may thin out some of your favorite old baits you've carried around for years.