2018’s best new lures
The latest swimbaits, topwaters, soft-plastics, spinners, jerkbaits, and jigs for Canadian anglers
Combining the plastic V-shaped tail of a jigging minnow with a lead-head jig, this novel bait is sure to catch the interest of anglers who fish hardwater-style jigging minnows in open water for bass, walleye, pike and lakers. It promises to excel for casting, strolling and snap-jigging, as well as for vertical presentations. Available in three sizes and eight colours, the Snap Jig also sports a secondary eye for stinger hooks or blades.
Berkley, 1-800-237-5539; www.berkley-fishing.com
Few new baits have created as much buzz as the RipStop, a jerkbait that stops on a dime when you pause your retrieve. It even subtly lifts its head like a frightened baitfish, causing trailing fish to instinctively crush it. This action is created by the ingenious boot tail, which is shaped like the tail of a soft-plastic swimbait. The RipStop comes in 14 baitfish patterns, and at 3½ inches, it’s perfectly sized for bass and walleye.
Rapala Canada, (905) 571-3001; www.rapala.ca
Best soft-plastic swimbait
360 GT SWIMBAIT
Many anglers have difficulty rigging soft-plastic paddletails, but the 360 GT Swimbait is moulded with entrance and exit holes, making it easy to fit flush onto the lifelike rattling jig head. The jig head itself sports a VMC hook, 3-D holographic eyes and an angled line-tie that gives the bait an extra side-to-side wobble and tail-kicking action. The 360 GT is available in 3½ -, 4½ - and 5½-inch lengths and 11 colours.
Normark Canada, (905) 571-3001; www.stormlures.ca
Best walleye lures
HYPER-GLIDE & HYPER-RATTLE
Unlike any other jigging minnows out there, the Hyper-Glide (top) has hinged wings that flare open as it falls to create a unique action, while the Hyper-Rattle (lower) boasts a rattle chamber. The injected-plastic bodies are amazingly heavy for their 1½-, two- and 2½-inch sizes, making them excellent for deep water or heavy currents, as well as for under the ice. And the 10 colours schemes are exquisite.
Acme Tackle Company, 1-866-244-2277; www.acmetackle.com
Best salmon/trout rig
SPIN-N-GLO KOKANEE RIG
This rig was developed for the West’s landlocked Kokanee salmon, I bet it will also catch coho and chum salmon, as well as stocked brookies, rainbows and splake across Canada. Featuring a small, winged Spin-N-Glo float on a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader ahead of a squid body, it’s colourful, buoyant and flashy. Plus, it spins at low trolling speeds. Fished on its own or in front of an attractor, the rig comes in two sizes and 10 finishes.
Yakima Bait Company, (509) 854-1311; www.yakimabait.com
Best multi-species topwater
What do you get when you cross a frog with a duck? The Fruck, from consistently inventive Savage Gear. Featuring a soft, collapsible frog-like body, the Fruck also sports a pair of webbed feet that emit a buzzbait-like bubble trail. Along with the extra-strong integrated double hook, there’s also an optional stinger. Available in seven- and 10-centimetre lengths and six colours, the Fruck is sure to drive largemouth bass, northern pike and muskies crazy.
Savage Gear, (909) 923-2828; www.savagegear-usa.com
Best bass topwater
Legendary topwater bass angler Zell Rowland famously modifies his surface baits to produce unique sounds and action. Now he’s teamed up with Booyah to produce the Prank, and all I can say is, watch out! The 2⅓-inch, 5/16-ounce topwater features both a cupped mouth that sprays water and a square bill that creates a slight sub-surface retrieve. With two winning lure styles, it may be the year’s most versatile bass bait.
Booyah, 1-800-531-120; www.booyahbaits.com
Always innovative, Freedom Lures has done it again with this brilliant buzzbait. Thanks to the lure maker’s free-swinging hook technology, anglers can customize this 7/16-ounce buzzbait by switching out the skirts and hooks. Because the hook swings freely, it’s always positioned to sting fish; and once a fish is on, it has no leverage to throw the hook. It comes with black, silver or gold blades and one of four fishy-coloured skirts.
Freedom Tackle Corp, (416) 748-7250; www.freedomlures.com
When you see this lure from Canada’s Lunkerhunt in action, you’ll understand why ICAST voted it the show’s best new soft-plastic. Thanks to the unique double-prop feet—making for the noisiest frog I’ve ever heard—predators will have no problem finding this bait in stained water or matted cover. The hook arrangement is also distinctive, with two standard frog-type hooks outside the body, along with an upward-pointing trailer hook.
Lunkerhunt, (416) 792-0385; www.lunkerhunt.com
Best bass spinner
BAITBALL SPINNER RIG
Most elite bass tournaments prohibit multi-hook umbrella-style rigs. Livetarget skirts that restriction with three soft-plastic teasers above a larger swimbait attached to a jig and razor-sharp hook. This imitates a school of frightened baitfish, with the swimbait standing out from the crowd as a target. I also like the flash and vibration. It’s available in six weight and size arrangements, and eight extremely detailed baitfish patterns.
Livetarget Lures, 1-888-231-4448; www.livetargetlures.com
Best muskie/pike topwater
Surface baits are the most exciting way to catch big toothy critters, and the Canadian-made Jitter-walker is sure to make for an easy target with its tight wiggle, internal rattle and cupped stainless steel lip. And for added durability, the stout 4X hooks are anchored to a through-the-bait wire harness. Made to order, the lures come in jointed or straight models that float on the pause, or weighted versions that slowly sink instead.
Fish Whistle, (905) 391-0145; www.fishwhistle.ca
Best lure components
HEAD SHOT SERIES
These ultra-realistic components are a DIY-lure maker’s dream come true. Predators are known to target the head of their prey, and Head Shots (above right) make the perfect bull’s-eye. They move freely around the shaft of a spinner, but when retrieved, they swivel upright and wobble from side to side. The 11 hand-detailed shapes include pike, sunfish, walleye, chub and redhorse sucker. You can also purchase finished bucktails (above left).
The Ugly Pike Bait Co., (905) 716-0396; www.uglypikebaits.com
Best finesse lure
At 2½-inches in length, with a slender, articulated 2¼-inch tail, the Mouse is tiny—and that’s the point. Spro’s hefty, award-winning BBZ-1 Rat lures were made for heavy baitcasting equipment and big predators, but the 5/16-ounce Mouse is a finesse spinning presentation for bass, crappies and trout. Retrieved at a moderate speed, it has a walk-the-dog action, but when slowed down, it shines as a sub-surface crankbait.
Spro Corp., (770) 919-1722; www.spro.com
Best bass hook
When bass pros sponsored by competing companies are using VMC’s NK Neko, you know it’s a good hook. And here’s the really interesting part: While the hook is excellent for finesse Neko rigs, most pros are raving about their hooking success when using it for drop-shotting. Featuring a long shank, wide gap, offset point and very cool, patent-pending, resin-closed eye, the NK Neko is available in sizes 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0 and 2/0.
VMC Incorporated, www.vmchooks.com