July 17, 2014 by David A. Brown
Gizzard shad are nothing new; nor is the notion that bass like to eat them. However, the recent heroics with a Magnum Spoon by Jason Lambert, Clent Davis, Randy Haynes and others at Kentucky Lake have focused a spotlight on a point reflected in several of the new products debuted at ICAST.
Essentially, bass direct plenty of their attention to schools of smaller threadfin shad, but the big ones – the legitimate day-changers – are fond of big meals. Makes sense: Why burn time and energy chasing around a bunch of little baitfish when two or three super-sized entrees will hold you for the day?
Ben Parker, designer of the Magnum Spoon (available from Nichols Lures), bottom lines it: “There’s a reason they call ’em largemouths.”
Indeed, a quality bass will attack remarkably large meals, and several of the baits introduced at ICAST will put that theory to the test. Among the hefty artificials that made their debut at the Orange County Convention Center this week at ICAST are the Gan Craft Super Magnum 300 jointed swimbait, which stretches a full 12 inches – the largest to date for Gan Craft.
Elsewhere, SPRO introduced the Rock Crawler 55, a lifelike rat lure with an active tail and a big profile that would no doubt cause a big disturbance in your home or a fish’s. Built with a wake-style lip, the bait looks like it will swim with tantalizing faux rodent flare.
- Biwaa Divinator – a lanky soft-body swimbait with a lead-head, a belly treble and a tail spinner
- Strike Pro Pig Shad and Bandit Shad – a couple of heavyweight soft-body swimbaits that would fit well on lead-heads with stinger harnesses
- Savage Gear Hard Eel – a hard-body with replaceable eel tails
- Fairpoint Tommy Trout – a slow-sinking rainbow trout imitator that’s always a good look for largemouth
- Biwaa Twin Pike – a jumbo twin-tail swimbait that should kick up quite a commotion
- Strike King KVD 8.0 – a jumbo square-bill crankbait that dives 7 feet
Rods for these big baits need to have plenty of length and backbone with a flexible tip, and reels must pack large line capacity and a hard-core drag. A few new products answer the call.
Straight Talk Wireless pro JT Kenney likes Halo’s 7-foot, 11-inch, heavy Titanium Series rod for slinging big baits.
“The exposed blank design is important for feeling the subtle tail motion of a swimbait,” Kenney explains.
On the reel scene, Abu Garcia introduced the new Revo Beast, a 7:1 workhorse built on the classic Revo frame and fitted with oversized handles and knobs for maximum leverage. Pure Fishing’s Paul Davis says the Beast packs a lot of fish-whipping power into an easy-to-manage profile.
“We wanted to keep it compact so it fits in your hand well,” says Davis. “The reel has an all-aluminum frame and side plates to keep it rigid while you’re throwing those big baits for those big fish.
“The big thing with this reel is the 22-pound max drag,” he adds. “With the oversized knobs and handle, all that works together so you can land those big fish when they’re digging for cover.”
Notably, on the other end of the spectrum, ICAST brings us several diminutive products – particularly the Micro Critters series from Rebel. Essentially scaled-down versions of popular Rebel baits, the Micro lineup targets the youth market with a reconfiguration that fosters safety and ease-of-release.
Each bait in the series – MicroCrawfish, MicroMinnow, MicroCrickhopper, MicroPop-R – shrinks by about half. Most noticeably, the baits trade the treble hooks standard to their full-size counterparts for single barbless hooks.
The dual benefits are safety for little hands and quicker release for small fish.