AT FISHLAB, NATURE CALLS!
You hopefully have read our blog on the union of Okuma, FishLab Tackle, and Bill Siemantel’s BBZ Baits. Perhaps you have also read our initial impressions of their Bio-Rat. Well, also being introduced at ICAST 2022 by this stellar team are the FishLab Nature Creature Bait soft plastics. I had the opportunity to discuss each of these with their award-winning designers, Hall of Fame Angler Bill Siemantel and Mike Bennett of FishLab Tackle. It's rare that something new comes on the market that really catches my attention, but these baits are head turners. What impressed me the most about the Nature Series baits is their versatility, detail, and affordability- that later being a repeated theme in FishLab’s offerings.
The Nature Series family consists of four baits- the Flippin’ Frog, Cover Bird, Flutter Nymph and Kickin’ Craw. Each bait is a derivative of the creature style of bait and has its own set of characteristics that make it sure to be a fish catcher. Bill explained that when he looked at baits on the market, there was a certain “sameness” to many of the creature baits on the market. Most had little resemblance to something predators actually ate, and many patterned themselves after the very successful Beaver. Bill's goal was to transform that classic shape into something predators actually prey upon, and he achieved this through the use of detail.
Take the Flippin’ Frog for example. Like all the Nature Series baits, the Frog has a soft body in the general creature bait shape, but Bill has added detailing to create a natural frog look. It features a ribbed body, ribbed legs, and very detailed feet. The detailing of the feet provides an undulating movement sure to be a fish attractor. On the head there is eye detail as well as mouth and cheek detail typical of a frog. The deep grooved ribbing of the main body provides a lot of water movement. As the ribs move down the frog toward the back legs, the ribbing gets wider, giving the frog a kicking action on the way to the bottom. The smooth belly of the frog allows for easy hook penetration. FishLab will be
offering two sizes- a 3 1/2″ and 4 ¼- in eight match the hatch or water condition colors. The frog is designed to be easily rigged on 3/0 to 5/0 hooks.
I have to say I was intrigued by the Cover Bird. In the spring, as baby birds start to move around their nests, some unfortunates fall into the water becoming tasty treat for predator fish. This is why you find anglers fishing the water below visible nests. Again,
the basic shape is similar to the beaver, but Bill has incorporated the details of a baby bird-
detailed facial features, feather patterns on the ribbed body, and an undulating tail. There is detailed feather patterning on the back of the bait. The facial features- the beak, mouth and eyes- all scream this is a baby bird. The tail section also borrows conceptually from the beaver design but clearly has that baby bird twist as there are separate tail feather sections that produce a lot of movement sure to draw strikes. The body has a slit for hook placement that allows you to rig it weedless. The Cover Bird will come in a 4 1/4″ and 5″ size in eight colors
No bait series would be complete without a craw, and Bill’s craw is Kickin’! Having as many appendages as it does, it has a lot of movement. Starting with the claws and antennae, as with the others in the series, there is a lot of detail. The antennae are ribbed adding to their ability to create movement. The size of the claw adds to the craw’s attracting ability as its design gives the appearance of it swimming down, not just falling down as it gives off a lot of kicking and flapping motion. The head has a lot of realistic details around the eyes and mouth. The secondary legs move in concert with the tail which is actually a secondary piece fused to the bait to add to the action as you move the bait along the bottom. The Kickin’ Craw is also available in eight colors in both a 3 1/2″ and 4 1/4″ size.
Being a smallmouth angler, I was very excited to see and hear about the Flutter Nymph. I immediately imagined fishing it either on a drop shot or a ned rig. The details on this bait are, to be totally unscientific, very cool! The legs, wings and tail form a unique bait that I believe fish are going to love. The head features big eyes. The legs with their ball-shaped feet create a lot of movement as the water is displaced by the ribbing on the underbelly. The wings and tail are covered with insect detailing that helps create vibration. The wings, legs, tail and body ribbing all acting in concert create a great kicking and fluttering motion as the bait drops and each wing has its own unique movements as the water moves around it. All this movement and vibration is sure to catch the lateral line of a nearby bass on the prowl. The Flutter Nymph will be available in 3 1/2″ and 4 1/4″ sizes in the eight series colors.
The FishLab team has put a lot of thought and innovation into this series as well as with the other baits being introduced at ICAST 2022. I would be shocked if they did not take home at least one Best of Show from the New Product Showcase. I am looking forward to getting this “family” out on the water!