Special BB Issues

Best new ICAST-ish stuff – part 1!

No actual ICAST this year so this is the next best thing…but a different thing:

> I can’t be in one place seeing and handling products and talking to folks about ’em, so bear that in mind. As you know, it’s way different and better to have something in your hand, especially rods and reels.

> A decent amount of stuff planned for this year’s ICAST show got delayed because of the Covid. So there’s less new stuff this year — even with some Classic-released stuff also getting delayed — and some companies you might have high hopes for might not have much…or anything at all.

> Some companies don’t go or weren’t planning to go to ICAST anyhow, and don’t launch new products on/around ICAST week. And some didn’t get me any info or I couldn’t find any, maybe because they’re not ready yet.

> There’s no way to know in advance what’ll be great. So when I highlight something, I’m just saying expect it to be really good, or I like it, or I find it interesting/cool. Will say: I 100% believe that the stuff the pros design or help design is for the most part real good. But it’s not all about pros and tournaments.

> I won’t be able to list every new thing. Even with less stuff this year, it just can’t be done — not enough space! So I’ll leave out some things and unfortunately miss some good stuff…which hopefully will be in future Blasters.

> I’m runnin’ like a rabid goat’s chasin’ me, so if I miss a thing here or there, please lmk and apologies man.
> Because the Blaster’s my deal, gonna do it this way: Stuff I really like or really look forward to fishin’ gets 5 fire hots, which is today. Then 4 fire hots, then the rest — includin’ oddball stuff. It’s all good, peeps have worked hard on all these products. This is just 1 bass-head’s 2c.

>> If you’re getting the BassBlaster for the first time it’s cuz a bud signed you up!

5 fire hots: Baits!

Stuff I think will be killer, I really like, or look forward to fishin’ — in no particular order:

1. Norman Speed N

#1 — Proven at this year’s Bassmaster Classic — Stetson Blaylock (3rd) and Micah Frazier (5th) both used it. Koinkydink? Don’t think so. Plus that little derby ain’t one where guys fish stuff just because…not that they ever do but you know what I mean.

#2 — The reason they fished it wasn’t just because it ran at the right depth and made a good sound, but also because it came through the grass real well.

#3 — Made of the mythical, highly sought-after by eBay hunters butyrate plastic which helps with “that sound”…sounds like “thud.”

#4 — When’s the last time folks got hyped about a new Norman bait??

Lil more info:

– Same size and weight as the Deep Little N, with the Norman gelcoat finish.

– Tighter action so it was designed primarily for colder water but….

– 1/2-oz, 2.75″, #4 trebles, 10 colors, MSRP: $7.99.

2. Rapala OG Slim 6

Gotta be a winner. Here’s why: I designed it in my garage, then gave it to Ott Defoe who made a few tweaks and there you go.

Hahahaha no way! Okay here’s why:

1. Designed by Ott a long while back — believe it was tweaked over time. Then other pros (like Mike Iaconelli) got a few from him and love it.

2. Already proven in tournaments, most recently Ott’s 3rd at the Eufaula, AL Bass Pro Tour derb.

3. Ott fishes in bare feet, even when it’s cold and rainy. He feels this connection to the water through the soles of his feet give his baits extra bassin’ mojo.

4. Every bait gets personally kissed by Ott or Jacob Wheeler before it’s packaged.

Okay not #3 and #4, but the other 2 are legit lol!

“OG” stands for Obese Gar, Own Goal, Octopus Gel, Old Geezer or Ott’s Garage — you pick. Here’s some deets:

> A non-rattling, easy-casting crankbait that swims with a medium wobble and tight side-to-side action…a lightweight circuit-board lip. The lure dives to 6′ when fished on 12-lb line.

> Ott: “A flat-sided balsa-wood bait…so much of the year it’s about imitating baitfish. I’ve been fishing balsa-wood baits my whole career.”

> “…we’ve kind of needed something like that. Something not as wide-action, but something not as tight-action and more castable — something inbetween.

> “The thinness of that circuit-board lip actually helps cut the water really well. It’s a really, really key component.”

> Another key detail DeFoe designed into the OG Slim 6 is the line-tie placement in the bait’s nose. “You want the line-tie up there to keep the action tight. It makes the bait more natural, more subtle.”

> …2 #3 VMC black-nickel 1X-strong short-shank Hybrid Treble Hooks. “I wanted them as big as they could possibly be, but still not catch each other. A short shank keeps the hook closer to the bait. That gives the fish less leverage to be able to throw it.”

2.75″, 1/2-oz, 14 colors, MSRP = $9.99. Fishin’-wise Ott says:

> “I’m not burning the bait. It’s just a slow, steady retrieve. I’m going to reel that bait down to the bottom, bump it off of a piece of cover, stop and pause. Because I want the bait to hang there — have that bait just barely, barely rise — or even suspend.”


3. Berkley Frittside 5 Biggun’

#1 — David Fritts designed it, and David only designs great crankbaits.

#2 — Fritts designed it to be a better version of one of the baits he used to win the ’93 Classic at Logan Martin, AL…a handmade deal, not one of the Poe’s. David said:

> A guy named Steve Blazer made it. They were similar to baits that came from the late Ronnie Tapp, a great bass fishermen from SC.

#3 — 7 guys in the ’19 Classic fished the bait, which up til then was pretty much unknown. 4 were in the top 20, and Edwin Evers was highest (8th).

#4 — That same pecan farmer named Edwin won 2 trophies at once in the Bass Pro Tour Champeenship using a Frittside.

#5 — Once the word got out I think at one point the baits were even sold out?

#6 — 3 people in the Carolinas have named their kids “Fritts-Si” already this year.

Okay all true except for #6, which honestly might be true too, who knows?

Anyhow, the Frittside first came out in the #5, #7 and #9 sizes, but APPARENTLY — I still don’t have one! — the 1/3-oz, 2.25″ #5 was the deal. So this year Berkley is rollin’ out the Frittside 5 Jr (1/4 oz) and the Frittside 5 Biggun’ (3/7 oz) — and of the 2 new’ns, David likes the Biggun the best. That’s good enough for me…and anyone honestly. Talked to him today:

> “I’m a bubba bait man and I like big baits. …that [Biggun’] was actually made with the rest of them originally — I thought that was the best one. I let Bobby Lane tie it on and throw it, and he said it’s best crankbait he’s ever tied on.

> “…gonna replace [several cranks], so many things this is good at. …throws well, and of course it’s silent and has that wood action — took us forever to get that done.

> “That bait, from 6.5′ and up it’s just irresistible — that roll in combination with the vibration. …been working on these things for 3 years. I think it’s the best one out of all of ’em, not that the Jr won’t be real good up north or in a pond or super shallow. But for a normal tie one on and catch a good one, that’s the one.”

He likes his Lew’s signature Perfect Crankbait Rod with a Lew’s BB1 Reel (5:1) and either Berkley X5 BRAID (for real) or Berkley Trilene Sensation mono.

I’ll get into his crankin’ setup in a future Blaster but will give you this: His fave color is “honey shad,” but if he wants a big bite he’s all about “long ranger” (yellow/silver back) and “rubbertail” (like a chart bluegill/baby bass) — “they will get a big bite,” he said, so there you go.

’96 Classic fact:

> “Fritts tried to avoid detection by the other pros during the Classic practice period by dressing unusually and fishing from a 1976 bass boat with a 50 hp outboard. The tactic didn’t work. Several pros recognized him and even stopped on the water to say hello.”

Lol! Believe he was a Classic rookie too?


4. Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait 110

Also comes in a 110 Deep version. Here’s the deal:

#1 — 2 years in development because the Yo-Zuri pros wouldn’t settle.

#2 — Brandon Cobb, who’s a jerkbait master, told me this bait’s the real deal:

> Great action, comparable to “that” jerkbait.
> “I like the way it feels…doesn’t get a lot of slack when you jerk it,” meaning the hooks won’t get tangled.
> “…stays at depth well when jerking. Some bait will come up a lot when you jerk it aggressively but this one doesn’t.”

> Durable — That’s right durable: One thing he does is slam jerkbaits into the bottom in 1-2′ when the baitfish spawn is on.

12 colors, that’s ^ “ghost sexy shad.” B-Cobb says, “…a lot of natural shad colors. I feel like a jerkbait is more a finesse-type thing.” Bait is 1/2-oz, 4-3/8″, rests head down posture on the pause, and has the great Yo-Zuri weight-transfer system for longer casts. $9.99 MSRP.

Brandon fishes it on a 6′ 11″ M Ark signature rod (out in Sept), the lighter-weight Abu REVO MGX Reel (6.4) and 10-12 lb Yo-Zuri TopKnot fluoro — 10-lb for typical pre-spawn jerkbait fishing, and 12-20 for ultra-shallow baitfish spawn fishing.

Quick story — the biggest fish he caught at the ’19 Lanier Elite was on a prototype of this bait:

Oops that’s the 11 he caught at Fork lol! BUT one of the things he was doing there was that crazy shallow jerkbaiting thing…more on that in a future Blaster….


5. CatchCo Mike Bucca’s Baby Bull Gill

#1 — Mike Bucca makes a mean swimbait. It beats up on bass. Maybe Mike’s mean too? Don’t think so but never considered it before…. Maybe the word “bull” comes from “bully”??

#2 — The Baby Bull Shad is good AND user-friendly. No special gear needed.

‘Nuff said man….


6. Nishine Lure Works Erie 115SD Jerkbait

Every Nishine bait is good…or great. Because main man Hiroshi Nishine is really a bait craftsman, with his own company. So I’m pretty confident this jerkbait will be real good…plus Nishine already has the 95SD (Shallow Diving = 4′) and the 115MD (Mid Diving = 7′) so this ain’t a completely new deal for ’em.

The 115SD is supposed to go to 6′, and I believe that ^ color is “BPB chartreuse smelt — 8 colors total, 3/4-oz, #5 Ichikawa Kamakiri trebles, each one comes with a snap and weight:

  • Full weight = Slow Sinking
  • Trimmed Weight = Suspending
  • No weight = Slow float up

Here’s a vid on how to use the weight, and here’s Hiroshi talkin’ ’bout the bait. Interesting: He says you don’t have to jerk it hard, just a light twitch gives it the dart:

Not sure why those are all hard baits — just they way it worked out….

5 fire hots: Other stuff!

Also no particular order:

1. VMC Finesse Neko Tokyo Rig

Oh snap VMC put what many pros think is their best hook on the Tokyo Rig:

4 sizes: — #2, #1, 1/0, 2/0 — 2 fer $4.99.


2. SIMMS ProDry Jacket and Bibs

#1 — SIMMS stuff is the best in my opinion.

#2 — The ProDry is their best rainsuit. Spendy but if you can afford it it’s all that.

#3 — They actually improved it — didn’t know that was possible:

> …SIMMS all-new ProDry Jacket and Bib…built with the most performance-driven fabrics in the Gore-Tex portfolio…more durable and waterproof than ever.

> The jacket features tons of on-body storage, shingle cuffs to lock water out and a newly-designed hood built for speed. The jacket and bib are sold separately, but when worn together, the weather doesn’t stand a chance.

Each piece is $600 — jacket on TW here and bibs here. If you can’t afford that, hit the Challenger jacket and bibs instead. I have ’em and love ’em….


3. Abu Garcia Zata baitcaster

Abu’s REVO reels are really good, and there’s a several versions of ’em — kinda a boat’s worth for different applications. This is not a REVO, but it’s still 4 letters so….

Anyhow the Zata (pronounced “Zay-ta”) is a real good reel: smooth, casts far, good brakes and looks cool/different too:

– 10+1 stainless steel ball bearings for smooth casting and retrieval
– Graphite frame and sideplates for additional weight savings
– Carbon Matrix drag system and a Duragear brass gear
– Only in 7.1:1, but that’s a good mid-range ratio
– Also available in spinning

For $170-ish it’s not real expensive and not ultra-cheap. BUT if it’s on the high side for you, the combo — with a matching Abu Zata graphite rod — is only $30 more: $199.99:

I like the reel a lot. I have 1, another’s on the way, and got my eye on 2 more.


4. Seaguar Gold Label fluoro leader

Everyone has fave lines so not gonna say Seaguar’s the best in case you like a different one. But their fluoros are reeeeeeeeal good, I [heart eyes emoji] ’em, and now they have a new line that’s supposed to be even gooder in a couple ways:

> Gold Label is the thinnest and strongest leader material Seaguar has ever made. This is a double-structure fluorocarbon…which means it has great strength yet is soft and supple. Because it is stronger, you can downsize lb-test without sacrificing strength — and because it is thinner, you can upsize lb-test without sacrificing visibility.

That last one is what BPTer Luke Clausen talks about in this vid. Gotta say, the idea of upsizing without the fish seeing it more is REAL appealing!

He mentioned that the Gold was tested in the salt…since those fish are way stronger than our fave feesh that sounds like a good test. Plus this dude likes it:

Heehee! Right now 15-40 lb is available, 2-12 lb coming around Oct.


5. Sufix 131 G-Core x13 Braid

Best braid EVER? That’s what Sufix is saying, a big claim no doubt. Here’s the deets:

> …a single strand of Gore Performance Fiber surrounded by 12 precision HMPE fibers, Sufix 131 G-Core x13 Braid is the most reliable braided line ever made.

> “…this is the best braided line that can be made,” said Ben Miller, Sufix fishing product development mgr. “This braided line was produced to be a super high-end technical braid for anglers that demand the best-possible tools to catch and land more and bigger fish.

> “It’s even rounder than our 832 Advance Superline. 832 is in the under 5% ovality range, where this line is perfectly round…. We’ve taken it to another level. The moment you touch it, it’s clear it’s the smoothest line you’ve ever felt. And, it’s also the quietest.”

> …increases the number of fibers at the knot, providing a better knot-cinch and stronger holding power.

> 10-lb 131 braid boasts a diameter of only 0.011″. That’s equivalent to the diameter of 2-lb mono. 30-lb 131 braid has a diameter of only 0.006″ — equivalent to the diameter of 8-lb mono. …80-lb 131…equivalent to the diameter of 20-lb mono.

Comes in low-vis green, in 150-yard spools, in 8 strengths — 6, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 65 and 80-lb — and yep it ain’t cheap: MSRP is $39.99.


6. VMC Crossover Rings

Look real carefully at that pic — that genius or what! Kinda self-explanatory but here’s a little more:

> The Crossover Rings have an innovative dual-channel hood which allows for Neko- or wacky-rigging like never before. These rings, paired with the Crossover Pliers, maximize efficiencies when rigging soft-plastics.

> The rings are made in 5 sizes (4mm-8mm) to cover a wide variety of diameter plastics, 10 per pack, and are produced in 3 colors (black, gp and clear).

Word his the baits don’t fly off on the jump as much with ’em. Here’s more on the pliers, which are $14.99:

> …made of a lightweight and durable plastic, and feature dual compartments in the handle for extra ring storage. Simply slide the ring onto the closed jaws, compress the handle to stretch ring, slide your plastic into the ring, and depress the pliers….

Plus Jacob Wheeler says “it’s freakin’ sweet” and Brandon Palaniuk loves it too so….


7. Team Lew’s Pro SP Speed Spool SLP Skipping Reel

When I saw this I thought Andy Montgomery had to have a hand in it so I called him. Sho’nuff he did:

> “…because one of most frustrating and yet rewarding techniques to learn in fishing is skipping with a baitcaster.

> “The main thing is the spool design…low line capacity. One of the most frustrating feeling’s when you’re skipping, or trying to learn, is when you backlash your reel so bad yo can’t get it out so you kind of give up. I won’t say this reel won’t backlash, but if it does it’s minimal and you can always get it out and keep fishing.

> “A backlash comes from deep within the spool creating that mess…. We also had to create a knot slot because when the spool is that shallow, you can still feel the knot [without the slot].

> “It takes 40 yards of 20-lb line, which is plenty. We actually started with a shallower spool, but increased just a little….

> “It’s got the Lew’s braking system, it’s a high-speed reel [8.3:1] which is what you want for skipping [and can crank the drag down] so it won’t slip [when you set the hook]…able to get them out quick.”

One more benefit:

> “It’s designed for skipping and pitching — mainly skipping — but it’s also a tremendous reel for a kid learning to throw a baitcaster. Same reason — it doesn’t backlash, and if it does you can get it out.”

At $199.99 it’s a lotta $$ for a beginner reel BUT my 2c is that kids can work for it (chores!) and there’s nothing worse than learning on a cheap baitcaster. That said, Lew’s and other companies has some dang good baitcasters for way less than that….

Rest of Andy’s skippin’ gear is 20-lb Strike King Tour Grade 100% Fluoro, his signature 7′ 1″ MH Lew’s skipping rod which is supposed to be out early spring, and pastel clothes:

Oops sorry that’s not Andy — Andy’s way skinnier than that dude….



8. Missile Baits Neko Weights

The info on this deal says “Missile Baits always solves problems with baits.” I mean, why is John Crews always running into problems? Is he…problematic? I was like, “Hey man, maybe all you need is some duct tape? I mean, that solves most problems….”

Lol! Anyhow, not sure if you ever thought your Neko weights were a problem but these are pretty cool. What TW says:

> …easily insert into soft plastics and provide a firm hold, which eliminates the need to use messy glues to avoid accidental weight losses from aggressive fish battles or making long casts.

> They also feature a rounded head that is designed to sit outside of the soft plastic and make contact with the bottom, giving anglers better feedback and increased sensitivity.

They come in 1/32, 1/16, 1/8, and 3/16-oz, 8-10 for $3.99.

End of 5 fire hots! More coming this week, maybe tomorrow….

BUT if I run across more 5 fire hots, I will include ’em as 5ers!

On BassBlaster.rocks right now…
Note: The TackleWarehouse links in this email are affiliate links, meaning if you go through them to make a purchase I might earn a commission…at no cost to you. Click here if you want to learn a little more about links in the BB.
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Jay Kumar’s BassBlaster is a daily-ish roundup

of the best, worst and funniest in bassin’, as curated by me — Jay Kumar. I started BassFan.com, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a bunch more in bassin’. The Blaster is the #2 daily read on any given day in the wide world o’ bass so thanks for readin’!

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