2010 Buyer’s Guide: Bass Edition - Major League Fishing

2010 Buyer’s Guide: Bass Edition

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December 8, 2009 • FLW Outdoors Magazine Editors • Uncategorized

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Editor’s note: This is just one article from a recent issue of FLW Outdoors Magazine, which publishes both a Bass Edition and a Walleye Edition. To learn more about the magazine and how to subscribe, click here.

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Testing new tackle is a major task for FLW Outdoors Magazine each year. Relying on tournament pros, field editors and in-house staff, dozens of products hit the water each year, and it all starts following ICAST in summer.

As usual, manufacturers didn’t disappoint in producing great new gear for the 2010 season. And as the New Year approaches, plans are already underway to test that new gear and report back on how it can help you catch more fish. For now, you’ll have to settle for a hand-picked preview, chosen and reviewed by the FLW Outdoors Magazine staff. Check out what’s cool about each product and why we think you should buy it – yeah, we already provided you with an argument when begging for new gear this holiday season. Then check back throughout the year for more insight on the rest of the great gear for 2010.

Abu Garcia Orra SX

Abu Garcia Orra SXFeatures

The Orra SX reel has eight bearings, a powerful drag and a six-pin sealed brake system. It comes with a 6.4:1 gear ratio and holds 145 yards of 12-pound line. The reel retails for $99. (abugarcia.com)

Why you should buy it

Performance far exceeded the practicality of this reel. This reel honestly handled like a much more expensive reel. It weighs 8.7 ounces, has an ultralow profile and cast an 1/8-ounce swimbait hook and Berkley PowerBait Hollow Belly Swimbait farther than seemed possible. At only $99, it still handled 5- and 6-pound bass with ease. If your budget can’t merit more than $100 for a reel, this is the reel for you.

7-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Super Worm

7-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Super Worm

Features

Super Worms are from the same mold as the original PowerBait Power Worm. They come in Gulp packs for $5.99 or oval Gulp Alive jars for $19.99. Super Worms are available in seven colors and are soaked in the Gulp Magic Gravy. (berkley-fishing.com)

Why you should buy it

Like all Gulp products, smallmouths can’t get enough of the Gulp scent attractant. But this will play well for largemouth anglers who fish slowly with ribbon-tail worms. The scent and attractant are features many green bass haven’t encountered from the dozens of other worms they’ve seen.

Koppers LIVETARGET Pumpkinseed and Bluegill

Features

Like the rest of Koppers’ lures, the LIVETARGET Pumpkinseed and Bluegill look exactly like their Koppers LIVETARGET Pumpkinseed and Bluegill crankbaitsnamesake species. Both come in natural matte and metallic gloss finishes and feature Daiichi hooks. Two running depths are available: 3 to 4 feet and 5 to 6 feet. The 2 ¼-inch size for both models weighs ¼ ounce, while the 2 ¾-inch size weighs 1/2 ounce. The retail price for each is $12.99. (koppersfishing.com)

Why you should buy it

Whether you’re fishing the bluegill spawn or just a lake where sunfish are prime prey, there are no better sunfish-imitators than these. They truly look like sunfish, down to the last detail. Plus, the finish is extremely durable. Their flat sides, tight wiggles and running depths will make them great for fan-casting flats during the spring, both pre- and postspawn. They are also just buoyant enough to be good around weeds.

Lazer TroKar

Lazer TroKar hooksFeatures

The TroKar hooks make use of a patented Surgically Sharpened Technology – the same process used to sharpen surgical needles. Made from cold-forged, high-carbon steel, the hooks come in six styles and retail for $11.99 for a varied amount of pieces per package. (lazertrokar.com)

Why you should buy it

They are the sharpest hooks out there. Period. That alone is a reason to buy them. However, the hooks are also remarkably strong. A new tempering process with the steel allows them to have a thin wire that is flexible but remarkably stout. We had trouble bending them open with pliers. A lot of thought also went into the intended techniques, with features like low-profile barbs, a spring bait keeper on the Swimbait hook and a barbed shank on the Flippin’ hook.

Pflueger Arbor

Features

Pflueger Arbor spinning reelThe Arbor is a wide-spooled, aluminum spinning reel. It has instant anti-reverse, eight bearings, a sealed carbon-fiber drag and rubber grippers on the spool for holding braided line. The 7430 weighs 8.5 ounces and holds 160 yards of 8-pound-test. The 7440 weighs 11.2 ounces and holds 150 yards of 10-pound-test. Both have rubber T-handles. Retail price is $79.95. (pfluegerfishing.com)

Why you should buy it

The large-arbor design is great for reducing line memory by wrapping line on a large radius, which also enhances casting smoothness because the line does not need to uncoil as far as with traditional reels. With a wider spool comes a shorter spool, which cuts down on back-and-forth spool movement and wraps line cleanly on the reel. Rubber grips on the spool are a nice touch for eliminating line slip with braided line. At $79.95, this is an affordable reel with high performance standards and an increasingly popular design.

Hag’s Tornado

Hag Tornado

Features

This unique soft-bait design incorporates the characteristics of a stickbait, floating worm and ringworm into one package. The result is a truly unique action in the water. The worm is available in three sizes – F4, F5 and F8 – with the F6.5 coming soon. Each number indicates its length in inches. The Tornado is available in 20 colors. An eight-pack of the 4- or 5-inch model or a six-pack of the 8-inch model retails for $4. (hagstornadobait.com)

Why you should buy it

On a Carolina rig, this lure is livelier than most, and the bass seem to hate it with a passion. The lure has produced big fish and big limits on Kentucky Lake, but a lot of folks are reluctant to talk about it much – yet. We compared it to other similar lures, and this one stands alone. A lot of thought went into features like the rattle pocket for adding rattles easily to the lure. For $4, you should give it a try and see for yourself.

American Rodsmiths Team Series with V17 Pro Tour Grips

Features

The standard Team Series contains 13 pro-staff-designed, technique-specific casting rods and three spinning rods. Five longer, heavier Team Series/Kicker Stix rods are made for braided line. They all come with V17 Pro Tour Grips, which were designed with Winn, Inc., a well-known maker of grips for golf clubs. Prices are $159.99 for the Team Series and $179.99 for the Team Series/Kicker Stix.

(americanrodsmiths.com)

American Rodsmiths Team Series with V17 Pro Tour Grips

Why you should buy it

The pro-staff is very deep, with each designer a master at the technique for which his rod is named. However, the grips are the main draw. They are full-length grips with more dexterity than cork, and they stayed tacky even after a lakeside dunk test. An EVA under layer provides a comfortable cushion. Plus, the grips are replaceable, in the case that they are damaged or the owner wants a larger or smaller diameter.

Lucky Craft Pointer 65XD and 78XD

Features

The 65XD is 2 1/2 inches long, weighs 3/16 ounce, dives to 8 feet and sells for $13.99 to $14.99, Lucky Craft Pointer 65XD and 78XDdepending on the finish. The 78XD is 3 inches long, weighs 1/3 ounce, dives to 10 feet and sells for $14.99 to $15.99, depending on the finish. Both are available in nine color patterns. (luckycraft.com)

Why you should buy it

With the same flashy action as the Pointer and Pointer DD series jerkbaits, the Pointer XD is the deepest-diving series of them all. In fact, the 78XD is the deepest-diving jerkbait Lucky Craft makes. When the bite is offshore and fish won’t rise for shallower lures, these jerkbaits go to them with minimal effort.

Rapala DT Thug

Features

Rapala DT Thug Diving to 8 feet, the balsa DT Thug has a more aggressive wobble and thinner profile than other crankbaits in the DT line. The crankbait is equipped with a pair of VMC SureSet Hooks, available in 16 colors and retails for $9.99. (rapala.com)

Why you should buy it

While the rest of the DT crankbaits feature tight wobbling actions, this crankbait was built to make a scene. The wide, strong wobble produces waves of vibration, perfect for triggering reaction strikes or when fishing in dirty water. However, the lure’s strongest suit is running into cover. The lip’s length and angle allow it to bounce right off rocks and wood almost like a square-billed crankbait, and the wiggle helps knock it free of weeds so it can be ripped through them easily.

VMC Spark Point treble hooks

Features

VMC Spark Point treble hooksAvailable in three sizes, the Spark Point treble hook features lateral cutting wings and forged “spines” on each hook point for increased penetration. The hook is made from vanadium steel, has a black-nickel finish and is chemically sharpened. A four-pack retails for $2.99, and a pack of 25 retails for $14.99. (vmchooks.com)

Why you should buy it

The term “sticky sharp” aptly applies to this hook. It snares anything that touches it almost instantly, something rarely found in a treble hook. Plus, while most sharp treble hooks are light-wire, this hook is stout and strong. There is no worry about a fish opening up the hook when fishing around cover.

Sebile Magic Swimmer Soft ProPack

Features

It has the same body as the original, but it is made of soft plastic. Weighting is done with the Soft Weight Sebile Magic Swimmer Soft ProPackSystem – removable tungsten weights that slide on the included 5/0 hook. The 105-millimeter (about 4 inches) model comes with four bodies, one hook and four tungsten weights. The 130-millimeter (about 5 inches) model comes with three bodies, one hook and six tungsten weights. Both models are available in six colors for a retail price of around $15. (sebile.com)

Why you should buy it

The top attraction is its weedless form. However, a foolproof rigging system is also part of the design. Factory-cut hook holes in the nose and body make it easy to align the hook the same each time for perfect swimming and to avoid tearing. The belly is slit open to collapse on hooksets, and there is a groove in the top to protect the hook point but not leave it buried where it can’t penetrate on a hookset.

Lowrance LSS-1 StructureScanLowrance LSS-1 StructureScan

Features

Available for Lowrance HDS displays, the SideScan shows near-3-D views taken simultaneously from both sides of the boat to cover up to 480 feet of bottom content. DownScan Imaging uses a similar display to show what is directly beneath the boat. The module connects to one to three HDS displays with Ethernet cables. The included low-profile transducer can operate in 455- or 800-kilohertz modes. Retail price is $699. (lowrance.com)

Why you should buy it

First off, the SideScan is a superb side-looking sonar, with the option to change frequencies to best meet your needs. DownScan Imaging, however, is one of the coolest tools ever created for anglers. What was once a blob in 2-D sonar can now be identified clearly for what it is – bait ball, brush pile, fish school. Split-screen views allow for real-time comparison of standard sonar and DownScan Imaging, while still showing the SideScan. Plus, the TrackBack feature lets anglers scroll back through imagery to get information or add waypoints for things they already passed.

Plano Liqua-Bait Locker System

Plano Liqua-Bait Locker System

Features

Manufactured out of clear Duraview plastic, the Liqua-Bait Locker (LBL) System uses leakproof Dri-Loc O-ring seals to hold soft baits that must be stored in liquid. The series consists of the LBL Bottle for $7.99, the LBL Wallet for $9.99, the Deep LBL for $14.99 and the Extra Deep LBL for $24.99. The Deep LBL includes a Bottle and bait grabber. The Extra Deep includes a Bottle, Wallet and bait grabber. Each can hold additional containers. (planomolding.com)

Why you should buy it

Finally, a good way to transport and store biodegradable soft baits. The baits can stay moist in their juices, but the rubber seal is airtight so anglers don’t have to smell them when not using the baits. Duraview plastic is extremely durable and makes it easy to identify different soft baits. The larger containers have also been designed around the Plano 3700 StowAway Utility box scale to easily fit in bags and boat compartments.

Spro Little John DDSpro Little John DD

Features

The Little John DD is a large-scale, 1-ounce, flat-sided crankbait that dives to 20 feet. It has a plastic body, tungsten weight-transfer system and Gamakatsu treble hooks. Available in eight colors, it retails for $11.99. (spro.com)

Why you should buy it

The Little John DD hits an honest 20 feet on 10-pound monofilament. During testing, it didn’t pull as hard as other deep-divers on the retrieve, but got down quickly. The action is like most flat-sided crankbaits – a side-to-side wobble. It isn’t subtle, but it also doesn’t rattle, has less roll and less wild action than other deep cranks, which creates a more-subdued action than most deep bass see.

Minn Kota i-PilotMinn Kota i-Pilot

Features

The i-Pilot is a GPS-equipped add-on trolling-motor head for the Terrova and PowerDrive V2 trolling motors. It combines GPS tracking technology with trolling-motor control, offering an assortment of options for automatic boat control in relation to fixed waypoints. Retail price is $399.99. (minnkotamotors.com)

Why you should buy it

This unit is simple to install and very simple to use. For big-water anglers or anyone who fishes primarily offshore, the Spot-Lock feature acts as an “electronic anchor” to hold the boat close to a waypoint. It makes it easy to concentrate on fishing, not fighting waves and wind with the trolling motor. Set it to hold tight to a waypoint and easily fish a precise honeyhole.

Wright and McGill Skeet Reese Signature Series Tessera fishing rods

Features

Nine technique-specific rods make up the series, including two spinning rods. The rods utilize S-Curve technology, which is a process of wrapping three types of fibers around the blank for a strong, lightweight rod. The crankbait rod uses a similar S-Glass process, with fibers wrapped on the latitudinal and longitudinal axes of a fiberglass blank. Grips are split and made of “sticky” molded rubber. All rods feature a distinctive yellow-and-black finish. Retail price is $89.99. (wright-mcgill.com)

Wright and McGill Skeet Reese Signature Series Tessera fishing rods

Why you should buy it

There is no difference between the $89.99 rods you see in stores and the ones Reese uses every day. They are identical, and the strength, weight and balance at that price point are superb. Also, Reese likes line guides. They are slathered along his rods to eliminate line slap and distribute stress along the full length of the rod. The power was easily noticeable when fighting fish during testing, as the action extended deep into the rod for full control.

Costa Del Mar Zane

Features

Costa Del Mar Zane sunglassesThe frames are lightweight nylon and come in three finishes. Rubber molding at the nose and ear pieces prevent slipping. Vent holes help alleviate fogging. The Zane comes in 15 lens styles, including several colored and mirror finishes and materials. Prescription lenses are available. Retail price varies from $139 to $239, depending on lenses. (costadelmar.com)

Why you should buy it

If you want a balanced lens size big enough to keep out wind and sunlight, but smaller than the movie stars wear, the Zane is perfect. A large frame fits full faces comfortably, and the ear pieces are thin, so a hat or visor won’t cram them into the tops of your ears. Go for the 580 lenses. There are none better.

Shimano Stradic CI4 spinning reel

Shimano Stradic CI4 spinning reelFeatures

This lightweight reel features carbon-fiber construction, seven bearings and a 6:1 gear ratio. The 1000F model weighs 6.2 ounces and holds 110 yards of 6-pound line, while the 2500F model holds 120 yards of 10-pound line. The Stradic CI4 retails for $199. (fish.shimano.com)

Why you should buy it

Shimano obviously sought to make a light spinning reel, and they succeeded. This reel is more durable and more sensitive than magnesium-framed reels and is for the most avid of finesse anglers. Shaky heads, drop-shots and light Texas rigs handled unbelievably well. The lightweight construction borrowed from Shimano’s cycling divisions made the reel more sensitive with light lures. This is an investment in sensitivity.

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