BassWestUSA - November/December, 2009, Page 41

walk softly and fish a

inch design should have been easy, but it was tricky because the additional mass made it swim differently, and ultimately the head had to be redesigned to prevent it from rolling.” Japanese lure manufacturer Ima debuted three new signature baits at this year’s ICAST, designed by pro anglers with the engineering team at Ima. In 2008, Fred Roumbanis brought in part of his winning limit at the Lake Murray BASS Elite series tournament on his signature Ima Roumba wake bait. This year he brought out the Rattlin’ Roumba, a noisy successor to the original, now with three inter- nal rattles. FLW Tour pro Michael Murphy worked on the Baby Flit 100, a sleek, smaller version of the Flit 120 diving jerkbait. The original flat-sided baitfish imitator dives to 8-9 feet before suspending, but the pros wanted an option for shallower waters that only dives to 3-4 feet, and is appropriate for lakes with smaller shad stock. The original Flit remains a solid cold weather bait. Randy Pringle has been working with Optimum for the last few years. This year he launched his new 7” Big Stick, in development for several years (it actually debuted at the 2008 ICAST before going back for some design tweaks). The idea behind the Big Stick was to have multiple types of lures in one bait. He had found that even with his favorite baits, all of them had issues. So he started designing his dream bait, and when Ima approached him for a partnership, he leapt at the chance and handed over notes and drawings. After over a year and a half of back and forth design, and nine prototypes, Pringle is enthusiastic about both the process and the results. The computer driven design was created in Japan, and then a prototype shipped to Optimum, then to Pringle for review and notes. He took them out on the water, took notes, and then shared his observations with Matt, who would then go back to Ima with the aid of his fluent Japanese and they’d get to work on another round. “Ima . . . has a strong sense of professionalism and honor at the highest level,” says Pringle, “they don’t skimp, and I never felt I was rushed.” Finally, for the last round, Pringle met with the Japa- nese designer in Florida and took to the waters for a round of fine-tuning before signing off on the final design. Pringle is now the proud owner of the entire line of prototypes. “I’m going to make a shadowbox: ‘ the evolution of the Big Stick ’” The resulting surface walk-the-dog bait in ten colors is actually a multi-species bait, good for going after muskie, stripers, as well as largemouth bass. Deps brought out a new version of the topwater Basirisky frog bait, with unique forward-facing legs and a new hard polycarbonate belly specifically designed for a better hook set, available in a 2 1/2” and 3” size, both with a single hook - and it’s proving to be a bestseller already. Another strange creature that debuted at ICAST this year was the Rat’n Rat, distrib- uted by Optimum on behalf of a Japanese lure maker. This little surface bait looks like a rat, and is designed like a soft frog bait with a topside double hook, soft plastic tail, and in place of frog legs or a skirt, it has two trailing spoon blades.


• Unique head shape allows bait to walk easier and pitch large amounts of water. • Features: 8 individual saound chambers • Through wire construction • Length = 7” - Weight = 1.75 oz. • Hooks: Owner ST-66, #1/0 • Release Date: Novermber 2009

• MSRP: $21.99

avaiLabLe iN 10 cOLORS

American Shad


Ghost Blue Back

Ghost Minnow


Red Head



Trash Fish


Personal favorites

Matt’s personal favorite is the 7” Double Diamond. This slick CAD designed bait does not look anything like a fish; its more abstract shape is designed for performance more than looks. “It’s such an oddball shape - people think it wont work,” says Matt, but it has proven to be super versatile performer, and his go-to bait. One of the advantages is that there are several different ways to rig including with an offset hook for weedless action, or attached to a jig head for more weight. Inspired by a saltwater design, it has a wide wobble and swims in a distinct zig-zag motion. For fall fishing he recommends the BLT in the light rainbow trout or Jackson trout colors. In the Diamond he likes the chartreuse shad color in the cooler weather. Over the past few years Matt has observed a change in overall attitude towards some of the bigger baits, with anglers gaining confidence and using them for tournament catches, not just as search baits. He says he’s looking forward to watching more people use Optimum lures across the country. “I’m hoping to see more swimbaits as winning lures in tournaments.” With another five baits in the works currently look for new designs to debut next year - plus watch out for whatever is cooking on the other side of the Pacific. And his final words of wisdom: “stick with shad or baitfish imitator colors . . . people ask me this a lot, and I tell them to stay with whatever the major food source is on your body of water”. BW

November/December 2009