Showing posts with label baits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baits. Show all posts

Saltwater Bait Review: Monster 3X Soft Plastics

Over the last year I've been impressed with the saltwater baits I've been using from Treasure Coast Tackle. Based in Florida, these guys sell what they use. You don't get tons of hype and it's likely why you may not have heard about them. Until today.

I've ordered several of Paul Van Rheenen's Unfair Lures baits from TCT and love the action and ability to catch fish. When Erica contacted me about checking out the Monster 3X line of soft plastics I was more than happy to oblige.

Here's what I liked and what I think can be improved upon for each of the three styles I tried.

3.75" X-Move Shrimp




The Good:


This segmented shrimp bait has a ton of tail flutter and mimics a fleeing shrimp very well. The colors it comes in are the typical coastal colors you would expect. (In silty water try the chartreuse color but in clearer water look at the natural brown or moss.) As claimed, the baits are tough. You really see this when you penetrate the hook. The X-Move isn't like some of the competitors that have a sandy gum feel to them. This is flexible yet rigid plastic.

Improvements:


The issue I had with the X-Move was actually the segments. If I used a longer shanked hook or even just a larger jig head, the penetration point was in the segments which hindered the action. This won't be a problem in the larger 4.75" version but if you are fishing the smaller shrimp you have to size down on the hook. When doing that, you may miss some short bites. After some abuse from small sound trout after a few dozen casts, the tail can become a nub. Or maybe I need to work on my hookset. These also don't work well with jig heads I already have. I really like the Rockport Rattler jighead but it won't work with this bait. A no collar jig head is best.


3.75" Ultrasoft Shrimp



The Good:


This non-segmented shrimp bait has a realistic look to it and seemed to work best under a popping cork which gave it a little more action. The colors varieties are good.  As claimed, the baits are tough. You really see this when you penetrate the hook. The Ultrasoft is an even more durable option to the X-Move without the segments and has a super soft feel to it which should allow a few more seconds of retention when eaten.I really liked fishing this on a split shot rig to let the bait fall naturally with just enough weight to get it where I wanted. Try a sharp 1/0  offset worm hook.  

Improvements:


Collared jig heads are a no go here as well. The bait needs a little more action so varying your retrieve is more important with the Ultrasoft than with the X-Move. I'd like to see a thicker body too. This is a pretty skinny bait and won't put off as much disturbance in the water as a thicker bait. Feed it some fast food and I think you have a winner. Also a note, don't mix these baits with others, they'll color blend. 



3.75" Slimshad 



The Good:


This was my favorite of the three baits to throw. The Slimshad is versatile as it can be fished in fresh or saltwater and appeals to a wide variety of fish species (and snakes but that's a different story). White bass, black bass, redfish and trout all like the Slimshad. I used the pearl color exclusively and it slayed the fish. I paired it with a belly weighted hook to make it weedless and swam it through dang near everything. They come three to a pack and I still have two that haven't been used. This is tough material and the toothy trout and angry whites haven't torn it yet. Spend the $6 and you may have enough swimbaits for a month or more! The Slimshad doesn't lean side to side and swam true right out of the package. If you really wanted to get crazy, try a couple of the 2.75" Slimshads on a tandem rig under lights at night.

Improvements:


The only real problem I had with the Slimshad is getting scent to stay on it. More specifically getting a ProCure gel to stay on it. The bait isn't very porous so my guess is the gel eventually just washes off. It's really my only knock on it. If it came super impregnated with a menhaden smell, it'd be the most deadly bait in my arsenal.


Final Thoughts


I'm looking forward to getting back down to the Texas coast during the flounder run and test these out for the flatties. It will also be a good test as to durability. I'll make sure and report back in the middle of October. If you haven't tried them yet, it's worth the $20 to try a three pack of each of these. If you'd like a little help with that price use code : TEXAS7 at checkout to get an additional discount. Thanks to TCT for allowing me to help you out with that. Whenever I can pass a savings on to you, I'll do it.



Start Cheating... on Yourself

Fishing forums are filled to the gills with people talking about fishing, catching and the baits they are using to do it. Among those baits are certain ones that you have heard about for years and constantly pass over when tying on a new lure while on the lake. I've been doing it for almost 30 years.

I don't like spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and until recently jigs. I've never had a lot of luck on them and they just gave me no confidence. I see friends, family and famous people throwing spinnerbaits but when I do it, it's...well...it's a suck fest. Chatterbaits are just weird to me. My dad likes them and caught his biggest bass ever on one but for me, again, suck fest. Jigs, the same story. Until last week.

I've had limited success previously on jigs. That translates to one six pound bass in the dead of winter. One time. It was a great fish but I quickly went back to my favorite confidence baits (Hag's Tornado Baits). I am sure we've all done it, told ourselves we would branch out and try a new bait that works well for lots of people and is great in lots of applications. We buy some of those new to us baits and take them with us. And then when the opportunity arises, the new tool never gets used.

Speaking personally, I've sold scores of baits that were out of package and merely chauffeured around in my kayak.  I hate that but I just wouldn't cheat. I wouldn't cheat on my confidence bait. I wouldn't cheat on myself. As a creature of habit and seeking to actually catch fish I had to break my mindset. Completely. When you take personal pride in outsmarting nature and convince a fish to eat a non-food item, it's hard to break that. Fly fishermen understand this even more when they tie their own flies. I remember my first fly I caught a trout on that I had personally tied. It was amazing!

So what did I do? I set myself up for success. To gain confidence, you need to locate water with actively feeding fish. Then, you need to cheat on yourself. You need to quit taking your confidence baits. It is much easier said than done and it feels wrong. Only take the bait you need to get to know. Take several of them but stay within that category. For me, the first item was the jig.

I had received a boost of confidence from friends on the forums who already know the fish catching power of the jig. I followed their advice and went to work. Within 15 minutes of launching, I had my first jig fish of the year in the kayak. My Commander 140, nicknamed "Winter Soldier" was proving a great platform for this type of fishing. I could stand, sit or crouch and lay into the hookset to get these fish out of the cover. With early success, I continued to percolate confidence and land several more fish. All on the jig. The other bonus was all of the fish were 14 inches or larger.








Planning for success coupled with forcing the situation made it happen and now the jig has a permanent place in my bait rotation. To me that makes me a better fisherman.

Now I just need to cheat a little more and learn to love a spinnerbait.


Fish are Talking. Are You Listening?

I've known it for years. Fishing for trout teaches it to you. Fishing for bass teaches it to you. Fishing for reds teaches it to you. The problem is we bury it under piles of maps, tackle, gear, reports and fishing forum gossip.

So what is "it"?

Here "it" is: The fish will tell you what they want to eat. Figuratively of course. More accurately stated, for those willing to observe it, the fish you are looking for will show you what they want to eat. And upon further inspection, how.

I relearn this lesson time and again. A story from last spring stays in the forefront of my mind especially in spring.

While scouting kayaking locations from the bank one morning, my brother and  I found bass actively feeding on shad. We launched the kayaks and set off in hot pursuit. After 45 minutes and zero strikes on myriad baits, I changed my mind. I reanalyzed the situation.

What were the bass feeding on? Shad.
What size were the shad? About two inches.
What colors imitate shad? White and silver.
What speed were the shad moving? Fast.
What baits did I have that I could mimic the shad? One. An Excalibur XR25 Lipless Crankbait in Sexy Shad.

I tied it on and second cast landed a fish. I immediately called to Lance and let him know what the pattern was. He tied on a Strike King Red Eye Shad in Chrome and started catching them as well.

Why did I spend so much time throwing my confidence baits? Because I was confident I knew what the fish wanted. They told me otherwise with their closed mouths near my baits and continued feasting around me. The fish offered display after display of what dinner they preferred. I just didn't want to see it. I wasn't actively watching for it.

Sometimes we need to slow down, watch, listen, learn from our surroundings and then and only then, using our acquired knowledge from past and present, give the fish what it wants to which it in turn will give us what we want.

This lesson applies to more than just fishing though sometimes it takes a day on the water to remind us. A simple fish can teach us what we refuse to hear from others. Well played Mother Nature. Well played. 

Used Baits Get New Purpose



Sometimes a really cool thing happens. A phone call or message opens your eyes to something that frankly, is pretty darn cool. That happened to me last week. Clinton Holstine got in touch with me to tell me about Krippled Kritters. I had heard the name but didn’t really know too much about them. After visiting with Clinton and doing a little research, I found out exactly why he was excited to tell me about them.

Krippled Kritters produces soft plastic baits using used, recycled baits, to help in the education of anglers regarding the hazards created when plastics are disposed of in our nations waters. They also sponsor and equip high school and college anglers with soft plastic baits produced by Krippled Kritters in an attempt to help them pursue their dreams in the sport of fishing.

So that is pretty cool but it’s not that easy. It would take an army to gather all of that plastic. This is where you come in.

Krippled Kritters gives anglers a couple of options to dispose of and/or recycle used plastic baits. Anglers can bag up old soft plastic baits and drop them off during a TTZ or FAN monthly tournament or at a weekly night tournament on either Bastrop, Lake Austin or Lake Travis. You may also call any of the Krippled Kitters Team members and they can arrange plans to pick up any used plastic baits anglers need to dispose of or wish to donate. A portion of all used plastics collected will be re-poured and donated to local high school bass teams, the SFA bass team, and other young anglers associated with TTZ, FAN, or the weekly tournaments when available.

 Another way to help is to buy product from Krippled Kritters. Place an order, buy a shirt, or buy the baits. As in any business, it takes money to put out any product.   

 Since the start of Krippled Kritters in October of last year, they have donated over 3000 baits to local high school and college teams, and to the Bastrop County Kid Fish Day last April.

 Does your High School, College, or youth organization need soft plastic baits?

Contact krippledkritters@aol.com. Tell them a little bit about your organization and set up a meeting. It's that easy!


Hopefully you will see the benefit this new company is offering and donate your used soft plastics. That’s a huge step forward. Buying some baits helps too!

My Baits for PKAA on Lake Fork

Wondering what I'll be throwing this weekend at Fork for the PKAA tournament? To lighten the mood and just have a good time, here is what I'll be throwing. It might change if baits are not producing but these are tied on and ready to go right now. The captions are links if you want to learn more and even purchase.

The Baits You Should Know About


My style must be different. I'm not sure what it is but often when I chat with other fishermen on the water about what I'm using I get weird looks. Maybe it's because it's not a super-mega brand, maybe it's because I  take a lot of recommendations or maybe it's my affinity for custom baits. Any way you slice it, many of us have a bait we tell folks about. Some of us have multiple. I fall into the latter category. So what should you try next with that gift card or that extra $20 you found in your jeans? Try these:



Hag's Tornado Bait 

Featured last week on the Split Shot Rig post, this bait has been a go-to for me for a while. The rattle chamber in the tail allows this bait to stand straight up on a shakey head, float a worm hook and drive fish crazy suspending on a carolina rig. My favorite size is the small F4 which is a 4" worm. All of the baits have water displacing ribs that draw attention under the water and allow a slower descent through the water column. At about $4 a pack, this is worth a look. Check them out at a local tackle shop or http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Hags_Tornado/descpage-HAGS.html


Warbaits Slayer Swimjigs 

My frustrations with jigs hanging in rocks or brush were reduced greatly when I started throwing a Warbait Swimjig. A very narrow head allows it to come through cover with the precision of...well, a fish. I fish this jig both as a swimmer and as a slow hopper on the bottom. Always looking for a slow descent, I prefer the 1/4oz version in Bream but the jigs come in multiple sizes all the way up to 2oz. Check them out at http://www.warbaits.com/armory.html


Paul Krew Custom Baits 

If you always wanted a hot pink, chartreuse, black polka dotted lizard with blue stripes, Paul can make it. I found out about Paul on Facebook, which is good because that's the only place he takes orders currently. If you can dream it, Paul can make it. He makes more than just lizards too. Drop shot worms, fat head minnows, paddle tail, curly tail, beavers, frogs and more. The selection is amazing and the colors are only limited by your imagination. Check him out if you're on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/paul.krew.9?fref=ts


3:16 Lure Co. Minnow 

What constitutes a swimbait is always up for discussion but there is no doubt this is a swimbait. Of all the soft swimbaits I've ever used, this is the best thought out. It has a wide profile, a huge tail thump and can go through the nastiest slop without an issue. Don't let the name fool you, this swimbait weighs over an ounce just by itself but outshines all the others in every condition. You don't need a several hundred dollar swimbait setup to throw this swimbait worth more than its weight in gold. (Don't sleep on the sissy color.) If you want to check them out, go to http://www.316lurecompany.com/baits/minnow.html


6th Sense Lures Crush 50X

Before 6th Sense grew into a mainstream name, I bought some Threadfin Shad 50X's. Now that they are available at Tackle Warehouse and several other places more people have come to know them but they still are an up and comer in a market filled with Strike King and Lucky Craft. Some of the best paint schemes I've ever seen, the 50X should be a squarebill in your box. (If you want a diver check out the 300DD).
http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/6th_Sense_Crush_50X_Squarebill/descpage-6SC50X.html


I'm always looking for an edge as I think many of you are but it's always nice to share. If you have a bait you think I should know about, leave a comment! Or if you want me to keep it a secret, shoot me an email. However you choose to share your info, always be on the lookout for the next great thing and stretch those horizons a bit. It'll make you a better fisherman and help those small businesses.





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Disclaimer: I was not,at the time of this writing, sponsored by or receiving discounts on any of these baits. ( I am now on the Hag's Tornado Bait Team).I was not receiving them for promotion or for the purposes of this article. These are baits that I bought, usually online, through the recommendations of others. While I am not opposed to pro staff deals or sponsorships, it is important that if one exists, it is disclosed. In this case, the one that does exist is now disclosed. If another deal were to arise with one of these baits, this post would again be amended to state as such. 

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