Wednesday July 13

5 Topwater Baits for Summer

in Seasonal Fishing

by Brendan

We’ve broken down some of the best Topwater lures into 5 groups that will help…

2467 hits

Thursday June 13

Post-Spawn Fishing Tips

in Seasonal Fishing

by Brendan Cucinello

It’s pretty safe to say that the post-spawn is one of the hardest times of…

2782 hits

Saturday August 20

Weedless Frog Tactics

in Tactics & Techniques

by Marques Green

  Summertime on the Mississippi river means one thing, weedless frogs.  Lily pads, eel grass…

12289 hits

Saturday August 20

Weedless Frog Tactics

Saturday February 19

The Complete Guide to Drop Shot Fishing

in Tactics & Techniques

by Brendan Cucinello

This step by step instructional guide will break down the different components that are used…

31247 hits

Wednesday August 21

Wacky Worming

in Fishing Tackle

by Dan McGarry

Over the last three years the most consistant bass fish catcher I have used has…

17530 hits

Wednesday August 21

Wacky Worming

Before you go out fishing for bass, be sure to check out our comprehensive articles, tips and resources.

2Handee Product Review - 1

George Cawthorn

Location: Castaic Lagoon, California


I got a chance to test out this product during an afternoon of fishing from the shoreline at Castaic Lagoon, California. The packaging of the 2-Handee Tool gets straight to the point…. it says “Every angler knows you must re-tie often and keep your hooks “sticky sharp” at all times.”

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Keitech USA Swing Impact Review

Location: Branson Fishing Guide Service on Table Rock Lake Branson Missouri.

Rigging: ¼ ounce Dart Head Jigs as Swimming Grubs and as trailers on Jigs and spinnerbaits.

Conditions: Weather conditions was a cloudy windy day, Low Pressure approaching. Water color was clear, Water temp was in the low 70’s.

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Keitech USA Swimbait Review

After doing the review of Keitech’s Model 1 jigs this spring, I jumped at the chance when Brendan asked me to do another review of a Keitech product. This time it was a review of one of their soft plastic lines, the Swing Impact.

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Keitech USA Swing Impact & Jig Review

I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of a package from Bassin' USA that would have the KEITECH lures I had been asked to test and review. When the package finally arrived it was quickly opened……. Wow, the wait had been well worth it.

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Keitech USA Tungsten Model 1 Product Review

Branson Missouri, Table Rock Lake

Flooded Timber and Brush, Flooded Cedars, Morning Take off 7:00am, Partly cloudy then cloudy Skies,
3 – 5 Feet very muddy water.

After receiving a few of these Keitech Jigs for review I thought I would go out and give them a good testing on the flooded water of Table Rock Lake.

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Keitech USA Model 1 - Kevin Springer

Products: Model 1 (Casting Jig), Custom Triler

Jigs are one of the top lures used to catch huge stringers of fish on Kentucky Lake and one of my primary go to lures on tournament day. When Brendan called and asked me if I would be interested in doing a product review of a new jig from Japan, my interest was definitely peaked. I knew what quality crankbaits were coming out of Japan, but was unsure what could be so great about a jig from Japan.

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Team Daiwa Product Review - 6

DaiwaAfter receiving the new Daiwa Samurai braid from Bassin' USA for review, I decided to really put this super line to the test, so I spooled my twelve year old Grandson, Trayven Howard’s rod with the Samurai Braid. Trayven loves to fish Chatter-baits and often lets them sink into heavy cover. The end result is often a broken off lure. Not any more!

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Team Daiwa Product Review - 5

 

DaiwaI was very excited to try the new fluorocarbon line Daiwa has just put out. It is spring time and I put the line to a real good test. The line was spooled onto a Daiwa 2500 Capricorn reel. I used 8lb test monofilament as my backing. I practically used the entire 125 yard spool to fill my reel over the backing. The rod I was using was a 6 foot medium/light power rod.

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Team Daiwa Product Review - 4

DaiwaI received my Daiwa Procyon a little too late in the spring for me to use it to capitalize on the cold water jerkbait bite, but did get a chance to work it out on the spring fun bite that we all enjoy. The model I was asked to review is the PCN 601MFS, a medium action 6’ spinning rod, rated for 6-14# line and baits from 1/8 to ¾ ounces. It’s made from IM7 graphite and has a split cork handle and is handsomely finished in matte grey with high gloss black wrappings.

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Team Daiwa Product Review - 3

 

DaiwaProducts: TD Minnow/TDM 2101SP 01, Samurai Braid

I have always been impressed with Daiwa’s Team Daiwa series of lures, and the TD Minnow did not disappoint. The realism they are able to put into their baits is truly amazing.

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Team Daiwa Product Review - 2

DaiwaProducts: TD Minnow, Double Clutch, TD Minnow Type SG, Daiwa Steez Flourocarbon

Have you ever picked up a lure and you just knew that it was going to catch bass? Well that’s exactly how I felt when I saw these new jerkbaits from Daiwa. The timing was perfect for testing these new beauties, with waters warming into the mid-upper 50’s. Candlewood Lake has an abundance of Alewife and the new TD Minnow does a great job of imitating these 4” bait fish.

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Team Daiwa Product Review - 1

That is the first thing that came to mind when I opened the package and found the Team Daiwa Advantage 2500A. Being from Texas the use of a spinning rod was never a tool I used that often unless I was crappie fishing. Then I discovered Split Shotting and the now famous Drop Shot. Even though these techniques were very useful in catching bass in tournaments, I never gave much thought to the reels that I used. I bought what ever was cheapest and did the job I wanted it to do.

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Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 7

Gene LarewGene Larew has introduced yet another great product. The Tube Worm, a cross between tubes and the ever so popular stick baits, the Tube Worm will be a producer of some big stringers.

Some of the features of the Tube Worm are the oversized rings, a tapered body and short tube like tentacles. The oversized rings add bulk, causing a slow erratic fall and the innovative ring design has proven to increase your hook up ratio.

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Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 6

Gene LarewProducts: Tube Worm, Floating Lizard, Mega Ring Shad, and the Fat Tail Tube

I recently was given the chance to field test four products from Gene larew, the 6" Tube Worm, 6" Floating Lizard, 4.5" Mega Ring Shad, and the 4.5" Fat Tail Tube. All of the baits were in watermelon or pumpkin/red and were of high quality. I was impressed with all of them, especially the unique Tube Worm.

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Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 5

Gene LarewMUST TASTE LIKE PIZZA...

This is what my three sons thought when they came in the house after I received the new products from Gene Larew. The new garlic scent was the only thing that you could smell in the house. My boys thought we were having pizza for supper and the fish must think the same thing. I took the new lures with me on a recent trip to Lake Champlain and the fish showed their approval. The conditions this day were bright, bluebird with a slight breeze from the north. The watercolor up this end of the lake is clear with 7 to 10 ft. visibility.

 

Ribbon Tale Floating Worm

Ribbon Tail Worm

We started out with the 8-inch Ribbon Tale Floating Worm (Red Shad) up in the flooded bushes. It was a perfect day for this with high blue skies to put the fish deep into the cover. The largemouth could not resist. We fished it on a 7' Kistler All Purpose Special (medium heavy) rod with 15 lb. line, weightless with a heavy wire wide gap hook to help with casting distance.

The next bait we tried was the Baby Hoo Daddy (creature bait, green pumpkin). We fished this bait in the same areas but changed our presentation to flipping and pitching. We rigged the Hoo Daddy Texas style with a 2/0 Mustad Megabite hook, 20lb. line, and 5/16th bullet weight on a 71/2 ft. flipping stick. After boating several nice Lake Champlain largemouth we decided to target some of the lakes famous smallmouth with the new tube bait from Gene Larew.

The Floating Fat Tale Tube (watermelon) is a little different. This bait has a large bulky profile, unlike the normal tube we fish up here in New England. This bait is a winner with the lakes smallmouth population. We fished it with an insider head and exposed hook on a 6ft. spinning rod, rigged with 10lb. test line. The lakes rocky ledges were are targets. We didn't notice a difference in the amount of fish we were catching with the new tube but they seemed to be noticeably larger than the fish we were catching on our usual tube. It could be coincidence or it could have to do with the larger profile. Either way it has found a spot in my tackle bag... learn more

Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 4

 

gene-larew

Products: Floating Finesse Craw, Baby Hoo Daddy, 4" Tube Worm

These craws are salt impregnated, garlic scented, and three inches long. At Mt. Pisgah State Park, Towanda, Pa., I fished two colors (black/ blue with blue pinches and green pumpkin) as a jig trailer on a 1/8-ounce jig. I used a black jig with the black/blue craw and a brown craw jig with the green pumpkin craw.

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Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 3

Gene LarewBass fishermen are learning what Italians have known for centuries - garlic is hot! As Emeril Lagasse would say, Gene Larew has decided to "kick it up a notch" with their Garlic scented tubes worms. I recently spent some time experimenting with the 4" size.

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Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 2

Gene LarewI was delighted when Bassin USA asked me to do a product review on Gene Larews products. First, let me assure you I have tested hundreds of products from various companies, some have not met my expectations while others have blown me away. I always give a fair and impartial review of any product. I NEVER test products in local farm ponds or any other private waters. All my testing is done in waters open to the public, under the same conditions potential users would face. I do not wait for the perfect conditions, in fact, I try to test products under good and extreme fishing situations.

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Gene Larew Soft Plastic Baits Product Review - 1

Gene LarewProducts: Baby Mega Ring Shad, Floating Series Finesse Craw

When first looking at Gene Larew's Baby Mega Ring Shad it presented a challenge on how to rig it. The lure looked like it was going to have possibilities, but it was uncertain as to what the best approach would be to unlock the full fish catching potential.

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Freedom to Change Review

First Impressions 

My first impression of Freedom Lures’ products was that it was something new that might be something very good.   I liked the idea of being able to change a hook for a difference in size type or if it had been dulled.  The packaging was laid out so I could see what was unique about the lure and I didn’t have to hunt for the size, but the retro style and colors of the insert card would not jump out from a wall full of lure packages.  I was impressed with the paint finish. That popped!  You could see that the hooks were of high quality as well.

Lure Features

The lure is based on standard jig head shapes with the capability to change hooks to any style the angler chooses.  The hooks are free moving, something that fisherman want for certain applications.   This swinging ability works well with a swimbait and football style head.  Though some anglers feel that this swinging hook concept helps keep a fish on the hook, I believe that on a headshake the weight being able to swing and pick up momentum enlarges the hole in the mouth of the fish.  A screw-in wire soft plastic keeper is used to hold the trailer in place on the stealth Jig.  I found it a bit large and long for my taste.   

Jig Head

The jig heads I tested are made of lead and have a brass inner chamber that projects sound and houses the wire hook fastener.  I am a firm believer that nothing transmits sound better than brass.  The designs are standard jighead shapes without any major innovations in styles.

Skirt

The silicone skirt on the Stealth model is sparse.  The color match to the head was acceptable.  I only saw the Golden Shiner color and it went well with the green pumpkin trailer I chose to use it with.  It would have worked well with an Alabama craw trailer as well.  They have only two choices of colors which is a bit limiting.   I found the skirts to be on the hard side and not very flexible.

Hook

Premium Black Nickel Finish with terrific points.  Heavy duty for sure.  Two hooks with each jig.

Testing

I fished both jigs in big water, Waddington in the St. Lawrence and Southern Lake Champlain.  The St. Lawrence was extremely clear and the lower end of Champlain was fairly clear to stained in spots with 12” of visibility in the stained areas.  Water temps were in the mid 70’s.  I fished the Stealth jig with a Green Pumpkin Speed Craw Trailer and the Hydra with a Keitech 4.8” Fat Swing Impact Swimbait in Gold Flash Minnow.  Both were in the Golden Shad color.  Both Lures were tied onto 7’ Med. Hvy casting rods with 6.1 reels spooled with 17 pound fluorocarbon line.

Performance/Effectiveness

I fished with lures that I normally use to locate fish and in this instance I was fishing lures of the same type as I was testing.  I was unable to find a smallmouths bass bite when we were at the St. Lawrence but found Largemouth Bass on almost every weed edge we came across.  Once I located fish I would change to the rod with the Freedom Lures Jig and if the bite fell off switch back to the original lure.  I did not see any increase in amount, frequency of strikes or size of fish when using the Freedom Lures Jigs.  Unfortunately there was a bit of a drop off in the frequency of strikes when I switched to the Stealth model at the St. Lawrence.  I caught some fair sized pike on the Hydra and found them to be durable.  The finish on the heads held up and I did not have a single bite off.  The swinging hook gave the swimbait a secondary wiggle or shimmy that it didn’t have on a fixed hook jig.  When we took the jigs to Lake Champlain I fished them from 3’ to 100’ deep.  I used the Hydra in Golden Shad with a Gulp Smelt 5” swimbait as the trailer.  We were vertically jigging lake trout from 85’ to 100’ deep on humps.   I switched from the EWG to 5/0 O’Shaunessy hook with the hook exposed.  I got four hits on the Hydra but I was unable to hook into a fish.  It also caused the line to tangle from swinging on the drop.  I believe that the tangles are due to the hinge point being close to the line tie.  I had 6 lake trout to 14 pounds for the day.   They were caught on slim bodied swing hook jigs called diamond jigs in the Northeast Coastal Region.  I used the Stealth model at the southern end of Lake Champlain the following two days.  I used generic bass jigs in 3/8 oz.  with a large beaver type trailer to find fish and then switched to the Freedom Stealth.  I did not get a strike on the stealth.  I thought that perhaps the difference between the ½ oz.Stealth and the 3/8 oz.generic jig I was using was a difference in drop speed and that may have been the problem.  I switched to a ½ oz Keitech jig with a speedcraw trailer and immediately caught fish.  This combo has a very quick drop speed.  I used green pumpkin and pumpkin colored jigs to catch fish, so color was not an issue, as these were a close match to the color of the Freedom Jig.  Maybe the head was too bright, I don’t know, I was unable to determine why it didn’t produce.  The third day was a repeat at the south end of Lake Champlain.  I caught fish on my usual jigs but didn’t connect on the Freedom Stealth.  I did get some hits on it, but it had to be swimming horizontally.  The partner I fished with tried it to see if it was me not having confidence in the lure and he did not do well either.  He felt that the swinging hook pulled the jig over on its side when it was stationary on the bottom.  We moved into the extreme shallows and he showed me that the trailer didn’t stay up at rest.  That may be something to research further.  We continued to pitch to scattered clumps of milfoil in 4-6 feet of water in a cove, he would throw the Stealth and I would throw a fixed hook jig.  The fixed hook jig was the producer with all of the strikes coming on the fall.  We changed trailers on the Stealth to Strike King Rage Tails to cause more noise, we tried a Producto plastic worm as a trailer to quiet it down, but could not come up with a combination that would work with the lure.

Techniques Used

Pitching (Stealth), Swimming Jig (Stealth), Swimming Solid Body Swimbaits (Hydra), Vertical Jigging Solid Body Swimbaits (Hydra)

Action

The swinging hook definitely adds something to a swimbait.  When jigging the Stealth after punching through the pads or in a hole in water chestnut the swinging hook adds to the looping motion as the bait is jigged.

Weed-less Effectiveness

Excellent for weedless applications. You can customize it to suit your needs, going with a slimmer offset style hook in moss or a bigger EWG hook or straight shank Sproat when flipping in harder cover or pads.

Construction/Quality  

Quality Control in the manufacturing process is evident in every aspect of the construction, with quality components used for every part of the lure.

Durability

I found the head held up better than most jig type lures.  I banged it off of rocks, bridge pilings, boats and steel bulkheads and didn’t get chips.  Some matte spots from hitting things but the paint held up.  The hooks were very sharp.

Design

I like the forward thinking that brought the lure to market.  I love the idea of being able to tune and change on the fly.  I truly like the lure.  The system developed to change the hooks is beautiful in its simplicity.  I’d like to see the stealth head changed so that the trailer is forced to stand a little higher and looking at the engineering in this lure I’m sure the developers will come up with a way to do it. 

Other Features

The paint jobs are great, but there is a need for a wider selection.  I like designer colors, but straight black wouldn’t be a bad choice to have on the Stealth model.  A predominately white pattern and a chartreuse pattern wouldn’t hurt the Hydra line either.

Reviewer’s Overall Thoughts

I did not have much success with the lure, that being said I think there is a place for this lure in my arsenal.  As a swimbait head I think it up near the front of the line for a casting swimming presentation.  I think this lure is aptly named as it does give an angler exactly what it advertises, freedom to change.
The lure is well engineered and is manufactured using quality components and finishes.  Its price point is a quite high but when you examine it closely the price is justified.  I have mentioned what I would change in design for the Stealth model regarding the trailer not standing up.  I didn’t care for the spiral wire keeper for soft plastic trailers, I prefer a barbed spike as it is more forgiving and the keeper they use on the lure is rather large.  I’d like to see the heads a little smaller on all of the styles, if that can be done with the removable hook feature.  The skirts on the Stealth need to have more strands and be a bit more flexible.  The color selection needs to be expanded as well.  I think that these lures could carve out a tremendous niche as a Flounder lure in salt water and as a swimbait jig head for Striped Bass.  I would recommend this product to other anglers and would be curious to see what combinations they came up with.
 
 
 
Rankings (1=Poor, 10=Excellent)
 
Construction - 9
Performance - 6
Price - 7
Features - 7
Design - 9
Application - 7
 
Overall = 8
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