A new batch of items are sure entice some bass anglers
There's always something new to buy in the costly world of bass fishing.
Every now and then there's even something worth buying.
Consider the chatterbait, a modified spinnerbait introduced a few years ago by Rad Lures. Within months after the Chatterbait hit the market, rival tackle companies were cranking out similar creations.
Unlike many fishing fads, chatterbaits are still selling. Instead of winding up in the bargain bin with so many other innovations, they've stood the test of time. More and more tackle companies are marketing their own knockoffs, and Rad even introduced an enticing panfish-sized Chatterbait for 2008.
So what is this year's chatterbait? After reviewing catalogs, magazines and press releases and talking with some hard-core bass anglers, several new products look like winners — or at least enticing items that will set cash registers ringing.
Field & Stream magazine picks top products each year and included two lures this winter: the Gene Larew Three-Legged Frog and the Berkley Gulp! Alive three-inch minnows. At $20 per pint, Gulp minnows are pricey. But they are easier to tote around than live bait.
Equipment-wise, the WaveSpin DH 3000 spinning reel is earning raves. Designed by famed bass professor Doug Hannon, the $80 reel was also a Field & Stream pick.
A baitcasting reel that's had a big boost lately is the Ardent XS 1000, used by Alton Jones to win last month's Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. Based out of Macon, Mo., Ardent is a new company whose reels are made entirely in the U.S.
Another hit at the Classic was Shaddalicious, a hollow-bodied swimbait that's not yet available to the public. But keep an eye out for these life-like Strike King plastic lures.
Until then you can sort through several other new swimbaits — a relatively recent addition to the Midwest bass arsenal that works well in Illinois strip-mine lakes or other clear-water situations. Unfortunately, swimbaits can be expensive.
For instance, Spro's new BB 21 is a great-looking hard-bodied bait that sells for $40. Similarly enticing is the Tru-Tungsten Tru Life Swimbait, which has built in chambers and removable weights that can be used to create a floater, a slow sinker or a fast sinker. But at $49 apiece, I'd be too scared to ever fish with the lure.
For more affordable top picks I called on Adam Jaegle of Presley's Outdoors in Bartonville and Chef Todd, who reads catalogs and fishing magazines non-stop. The Chef is so fish-crazed he reads Crappie magazine even though he doesn't really like crappie fishing.
Anyway, they both mentioned Storm's Kicken Slab or Spin Tail Shad as a more affordable swimbait that sells for $10 and comes in a variety of enticing colors. If you're going to fish swimbaits, make sure to pick up some hooks with belly weights so you can use them in more open-water situations.
In the world of crankbaits, Spro's Little John ($11) looks like a good bet due to its shallow-running ability, unique head design and a good selection of colors. Another fast seller is Rapala's DT Fat ($7), a shallow-running big-bodied crank that mimics a Big O.
Jaegle and the Chef also spoke highly of the following: Gamakatsu's EWG double frog hooks and EWG monster hooks, Mann's 10-inch hardnose snakes, Berkley's Reaction Strike series, Lucky Craft's Slim Shad, Strike King's red-eyed shad rattlebait and rage tail plastics, Berkley's Mike Iaconelli signature series jig, River2Sea's Bully Wa Frog, the Helix Ninja Buzzbait by Fishbelly, Booyah's HD Spinnerbait, Yum's 9-inch Houdini Shad and Strike King's coffee tube jigs — which are actually impregnated with coffee grounds.
'I hear they're coming out with a decaf version next year,' Chef Todd said, only half joking.
After all, there's even a popular new rod made of carrots: Carrot Stix rods by E21 Fishing. Made of 70 percent shredded carrots and 30 percent metal alloy, E21 rods won Best of Show at last fall's ICAST show, an annual trade show for companies that sell fishing gear.
JEFF LAMPE is Journal Star outdoors columnist. Write to him at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3212 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org