January almost slipped away without a fishing trip, but I got out with one of my bass buddies a couple days ago to chase some winter time river smallmouth bass. Part of my drive to get out and so some fishing, was the fact that I had this new Ima Lures Square Billed Crankbait . You are probably saying, who cares, I got lots of crankbaits.
Well, this crankbait is brand new and not being released for a few more weeks at the Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, but I managed to get my hands on one a few weeks back and have been wanting to get it in the water so bad to check it out. Largely driven by curiosity and because I have done very well on the Ima Shaker crankbait as well. Square bill cranks are versatile lures, but let’s face it, 25 degree air temps and near freezing water temps are not what most people would call ideal for these style baits. This area that I fish, I catch almost all my fish slow dragging a 3″ Green Pumpkin tube on a 1/9oz head. So my intentions of bringing this bait along was more along the lines of checking out the action, seeing how it deflected off rocks and cover, if I caught a fish, that would have been a bonus.
I rigged up the Chartreuse Shad (Sexy Shad) Square Bill on 15lb fluorocarbon, mainly because I was a little worried about losing it. Fishing a crankbait from shore up hill in a snaggy & rocky environment is a recipe for getting hung up. On my first cast, I noticed a nice strong vibration that felt good and then it got shallow enough, that I could feel it pounding the rocks and deflecting and searching around. On my 2nd cast, I just started to feel those rocks and BAM, fish on! Rewarded with a nice chunky smallmouth. Pretty cool, was it a fluke?
I used the bait off & on the rest of the 4 hours we fished. The other productive baits for me, was a 1/8oz Tube Jig and 3″ tube and a Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig head with small green pumpkin worm. Both of these finesse lures produced fish on a tough bite, but then again so did Bill Lowen’s signature crankbait. I ended up smallmouth on the Square Bill out of the 21 total. The average size of the crank fish were larger and the strikes were violent, which a nice change of pace to the wet leafy bite of a tube bite. I think this is a testament to the strike triggering action of this new bait; I can only imagine what it will bring when spring is here and its actually typical square bill conditions.
Few other things that stand out, I only had 8 bites and hooked 7 of them solidly. This tells me they were eating the bait and the hooks are sharp and well balanced with the bait. I also snagged a double digit carp in the back, not really babying it, I quickly got the fish in and the hooks held up great, strong & sharp! Lastly, never once did I get hung for even a second, even with constant bumping and grinding in shallow rocks and wood in a current situation, this is a 4 wheel drive crankbait. I envy what Bill Lowen will be able to do with this bait at this year’s Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. So post Classic, keep an eye out, these should start showing up in your favorite online stores real soon!