February 20, 2014 by Brett Carlson
Tournament bass fishing season is in full swing, even if the weather in most of the country may not feel like it. From now until mid-summer, culminating with ICAST in July and the Forrest Wood Cup in August, tackle companies across the industry will be launching their newest mouse traps - all guaranteed to catch more fish than the others.
For tackle hoarders like myself, it truly is an exciting time. Innovation is my favorite aspect of bass fishing. From product designers to pros, it's all about continuous improvement. I do have one complaint and I think buying all these lures over the years gives me the right to air that complaint - so here goes.
When launching a new product, tell me how it fits into an angler's repertoire. The more information the better. Nothing turns me off more than a new lure that supposedly works all year round in all types of cover - basically every scenario a fishermen will ever encounter. That may sound great in theory and look great on printed packaging, but in reality it's not helpful.
Sorry folks, there is no magic bullet in bass fishing, not even the Alabama rig. That is why we have all this tackle in the first place. In my opinion, the two most diverse baits on the planet are the ChatterBait and the Senko. And like all lures, both work better in certain circumstances - the ChatterBait in stained water around vegetation and the Senko in clear water during springtime.
Back to new baits. I want to know when this bait excels. What is the ideal situation to throw it? Water clarity? Water temperatures? How deep does it run? How does it deflect off of or come through cover? How does it compare to other similar baits? When do I want a rattle and when don't I? Is the action natural or do I have to impart it?
Of course, some tackle companies are better at providing this information than others. I have a feeling that many use the broader-brush approach thinking they'll capture more trial sales from casual fishermen. That may be true initially, but it's not sustainable. If the consumer isn't using the bait in the correct conditions, it won't catch many fish. That's the cold truth and it translates into fewer repeat sales in the long run. Even worse, that single bait could deteriorate the overall strength of the brand.
I think catering a detailed message to the hardcore buyers is a superior strategy. This is where pro staffers become a huge asset. They can provide the in-depth information (often via two-way communication such as seminars, live chats, etc.) without being restricted by word counts on a marketing brochure or press release. Armed with this knowledge and a handful of new baits, we diehards will hit the water and conduct testing of our own. And instead of buying a few more like casual fishermen, we'll load the tackle box and buy out the entire store if the thing works.
So please tackle companies, cater to us, your serious buyers, and let's make 2014 the year we close the information gap. The more we know, the better we'll do and most importantly for you, the more we'll buy.