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High-tech hard plastic lures are making the transition from freshwater stand-bys to saltwater killers.
By William A. Muller
Tags: freshwater
It all started with less expensive baits like these Red Fins, Bombers, and Rapalas, but we’ve begun to appreciate the productivity of newer “hi-tech” models.

The Karate Kid was a very interesting movie, but it offered viewers a little philosophy too. Remember, “Balance, Daniel San, balance.” Many wise people have suggested that the best way to enjoy life is within the realm of moderation and balance. Well, balance is a key feature for lures as well as for humans. For instance, I was using a suspending jerkbait for largemouth bass in a lake a few years back. I was told that suspending baits were the “right” lures, but no one told me that there could be a world of difference between lures made by different manufacturers; I couldn’t buy a hit.

Frustrated, I watched the action of the lure as I retrieved it close by and noticed something I didn’t like. When I stopped the retrieve the lure paused with its head pointing up at a severe angle. I switched to a Rapala Husky Jerk (HJ 8) and immediately began catching fish. The Rapala swam straight with a wiggle and when I paused it, the lure remained parallel to the bottom. Rapalas are perfectly balanced and it was this detail of manufacturing that made the lure’s presentation so much better than the other model.

There are so many more freshwater anglers than those who ply their skills in the briny that many innovations and improvements in tackle come from the freshwater venue. The intensity of that reality increased in recent decades thanks to the exploding popularity of competitive largemouth bass fishing. The V.I.P.s of the sport; people like Kevin Van Dam and Skeet Reese, demand the very best made and most productive lures from manufacturers because hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line every time they fish in a big tournament. What are some of their demands? Phenomenal paint jobs, realistic body shapes, perfect swimming actions, exact suspending technology, perfect balance, and precise diving depths are among the characteristics they insist on.

As a result, products arrive on the market that look and swim as almost perfect copies of the real thing. These lures get pricey too. Some of the custom-made swim baits created to catch huge largemouth bass by mimicking the abundant trout in deep clear California lakes can cost well over 100 dollars each. Boy, would I feel bad if I lost one of those lures to a bad knot or on a rock.

Before anglers reading this think that all your Rapala, Cotton Cordell, and Bombers are now considered useless, let me pull you back off the edge of the cliff. These are quality lures that serve us well in fresh and saltwater, but I’d like to introduce you to some expensive high-tech lures that have become available in recent years that might come in handy on those special days when stripers are so fussy that they seem to be impossible to catch. In that frame of reference you might want to keep one or two handy. The lures I’ll be discussing fall within a range of about 15 to 50 dollars and whose qualities fall within the demanding stipulations of the pros.

Strike King: Let’s start with this company that has owned an excellent reputation for quality for many years. One lure, the King Kong Swimbait intrigues me. It’s jointed, comes in six and eight-inch sizes, and comes in six colors. In addition, Strike King’s King Shad has proven its mettle over recent years as well. The hardware appears to be sturdy, and that’s a big plus for saltwater fans. Many of today’s most expensive hard plastic lures are through-wired, but for those that are not hook hanger strength has improved in recent years. Through-wired is better, but even our tough saltwater denizens sometimes destroy a through-wired bait by using a combination of leverage and power. Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily be put off by non-through-wired lures.

Tru-Tungsten: This company probably isn’t well known to most saltwater fans, but they offer the Tru-Life Swimbait that comes with tungsten balls that you can add and subtract from the lure. Therefore, it will float, sink slowly, or sink fast depending upon whether you use one, two, or three balls. It comes with VMC 3X strong hooks and is also jointed. It is available in seven, eight, and nine-inch sizes and ten colors.

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