It’s tough to create an innovative lure these days. Most new baits are either a variation of already-existing ideas, a tweak, a new color, or an uncomfortable combination. But out of the literally hundreds of new artificials I checked out at the 2016 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, or ICAST, I found a handful that are fresh, and that I would actually use. Here are my top five.
I literally did a double take when I walked past this giant. I can think of countless applications for the beefed-up version of the YUM Swurm. The new 10-inch incarnation is touted to catch largemouth, musky, northern pike, lake trout, stripers, cobia, and redfish, and I could probably add a dozen more species to that list. It’s versatile for a big soft plastic and would have just as much appeal on a jighead as it does Texas-rigged on an 11/0 hook. The bulky body creates plenty to heave a cast with but without adding additional weight. The 10-inch Swurm is currently available in black, bubblegum, clear gold flake, silver shad, watermelon/flake, and white.
This bait is going to be talked about—a lot. I have witnessed a muskellunge take down a baby duck, and the shock and awe of the attack was stunning. But the fact is that not only Esox chow down on small waterfowl but also lunker largemouths. Savage Gear is well aware of this, as evident by its new 3D Suicide Duck. The surface bait gets its action from two rotating feet that create a wake similar to a baby duck. The bait comes in two sizes: a 4 ¼-inch 1-ounce model, and a 6-inch 2 ¾-ounce model. The three available patterns are blackbird, yellow duck, and wood duck.
When it comes to lures, it’s not often that I wonder why someone hasn’t thought of an idea sooner. But that was the case with Castaic’s Boyd Duckett BD Soft Squarebill. The crankbait is as old as bass fishing, and so is its reputation for less-than-stellar hook-ups. But the benefits of a soft crank are obvious: Fish can get a better hold of it, so there’s a much smaller chance of the lure slipping before the hooks are planted. The collapsible soft body also enables it to contort and slip through tight spots. The BD Soft Squarebill comes in one size, measuring 2.5 inches and weighing 2/5 ounces. It dives from 0 to 4 feet and is currently available in six color patterns.
I’ve seen plenty of propellers on lures before, but they’ve always been on topwaters. But Lucky Craft has taken its venerable Pointer and added an interesting new component: a front and a rear prop. The slow-sinking Screw Pointer creates a subtle, rhythmic action, inspired by other legendary Japanese baits. Its compact body can be cast a mile. The Screw Pointer props and slowly rolls on the retrieve, giving it the ability to trigger strikes from wary fish in tough conditions. The water movement created by the blades is unlike any other bait you will find on the market. I have to give it to Lucky Craft for innovation on this one. The Screw Pointer is 4½ inches, weighs 5/8 ounces, and is available in seven patterns.
Soft-plastic swimbaits are nothing new, and, I have to admit, I was underwhelmed when I heard that they were the basis of Live Target’s big launch. But after learning about the innovations brought to this existing concept, I was excited. In true Live Target fashion, the swimbait series was created to replicate actual forage species in meticulous detail. Beyond the swimbaits’ key components, such as a factory-built internal weight system and a dorsal fin that doubles as a weed guard, the tails are what really make them shine. Live Target has created an oscillator with a specific paint pattern for each species. Between the paint and action, each has a swimming action that replicates that of the species. In essence, the yellow perch swimbait moves like an actual yellow perch, the herring swims like an actual herring, and so on. There are ten forage species available—seven for freshwater and three for salt.