January 29, 2016
Just ask your wife€¦hardbaits can break the bank. With some fancy crankbaits pushing $50 each, Berkley thinks it can deliver a quality, straight-running hard bait for less than $10. The company that brought you Havoc PowerBaits softbaits, Trilene line and classic Cherrywood rod is muscling into the hardbaits business with a line of new plastic baits designed to rival the established brands.
"These are the best hard baits I've ever designed," said designer David Fritts who has a knack for crank baits.
Fritts is from North Carolina where anglers fish clear lakes that lack a lot of structure and depend on hardbaits for most of their catches. He won the Classic and FLW Cup using hard baits, and designed the venerable Rapala DT series of deep-divers. That's a heck of a resume.
Fritts and Berkley teamed up to use the latest technology and six new models, from square-bills and jerkbaits and lipless rattling baits.
Fritts also hinted a a new line of crankbaits that will dive to more than 20 feet "faster than any ever have." That's crucial to deep-water fishing, especially in the summer, when you want you bait in the zone for as long as possible.
Expect them later this year. A line of topwaters are expected later this year or in 2017.
The baits come with Berkley's new Fusion19 hooks. No bait will cost more than $7.95.
Game & Fish/Sportsman magazine also tested out the new Berkley hardbaits and this is what we found.
Digger | Medium-Depth Diver
Perhaps the premier hard bait of the bunch, the Digger comes in two sizes, a 6.5 and 8.5, indicating the depth they will run. This is a year 'round bait that comes through cover extremely well and deflects more like a square-bill.
"I was blown away at how much I did not hang up in rocks and brush," said Lucas. "That's hard to find in a crankbait."
Beside ultra-clear water, Lucas also throws a crank when the water visibility is 2 feet or less. Game & Fish/Sportsman Fish with Lucas and Fritts at a big-bass lake recently to get familiar with the new Berkley Hardbaits.
Warpig | It's No Brush Hog
The name comes from the blunt nose, but the most interesting thing about this bait is the way it doesn't get hung up. One of the most effective ways we fished this bait was by casting and letting it sink to the bottom, then ripping it through structure: not your typical lipless-crank-way-to-fish. It also produced on steady retrieves. You'll feel good vibration and see a rapid roll and tight tail wag. Two versions, a 1/4- and 1/2-ounce.
Bad Shad | Cold-Water Mini-Crank
Here's a great bait for cold water. The tight wobble of this shad bait gives a subtle action that a lethargic fish can home in on and track down easily.
It comes in two sizes, a 1/4-ounce 5 and a 1/3-ounce 7, and cast well enough to be thrown on a baitcasting rod. That's pretty rare for a diminutive lure: most on the market, like Rapala's Shad Rap, call for a spinning rod.
Pitbull | Shallow Squarebill
This square-bill is made for shallower cranking where there is a lot of structure. Rocks, dock ends, rip-rap, layovers in less than 5 feet of water are the places that this bait will perform best. Bass legend Gary Klein had a hand in its design. It has a unique pointed lateral line that helps create a thick thump that we felt all the wayto the reel handle. This Berkley Hardbait color scheme will work perfectly around spawning time when the females HATE bluegill around their beds.
Cutter | Coffin-Bill Jerkbait
Best for cold-water fishing, this jerkbait also caught bass in warm water. It gives the fish a different look due to the coffin bill. It comes in two sizes, 110, 90 and Skinny, and will be a go-to bait in the coldest of water where suspended fish can't burn much energy to swim down a burner. Jerk it and let it suspend, which is when you're likely to get hit.
"Quality hooks are especially important with jerkbaits because the bait isn't moving when it's hit," said Lucas, who also helped Fritts and engineers design this bait. "This bait, like all the new hard baits, come with Berkley's new Fusion 19 and they are sharp. You won't have to change out these trebles, that's for sure."
Wild Thang | Unpredictable Action
This bait is well-named. Although it's another square bill, it has a more violent swing side-to-side, which imitates a darting, fleeing baitfish. Look to use this bait along rocky banks 6-8 feet deep. Banks that slope 45 degrees would be a great place to start. The "Thang" has more natural colors because it's made for clear water.
We found the bait had a smack window where it tracked correctly. It's not a bait for ripping or burning, but one that should get a medium retrieve between the bumps and grinds of the shallow structure.
Be on the lookout for more Berkley Hardbait options and other exciting products coming this year!