BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 25


Square Bill



with Bill Lowen

new ima Squarebill is a shallow-running cover contact crank that com- bines everything I ever wanted in a hand-made balsawood bait with the durability and consistency of an injection-molded hard plastic crank, says Bassmaster Elite pro Bill Lowen from North Bend, Ohio. I was raised shing shallow water, using balsa baits hand-made by 4-5 guys in this area of Ohio where I am from, and everyone in the shing world knows that hand-made balsa cranks act different than plastic production run baits. Many lure manufacturers have tried before, and you always hear about this or that plastic bait that’s ‘just like balsa’, blah, blah, blah, but to me no plastic lure has ever truly been like balsa yet. So what I wanted to do (and succeeded at) was take everything that I liked about the 4-5 different hand-made balsa baits I know and love, and incorporate all that into the ima Squarebill, a plastic crank. I wanted a square bill crankbait that would run a little shallower than most others on the market. Most square bills run in the 4-6 foot depth range. My bait is designed so you may uctuate its depth range from 1-3 feet by varying the line diameter and/or the rod tip position. The ima Squarebill’s only going to run 3 foot deep on 12 lb test, holding the rod tip down. Using 15-17 lb test, you can get it in that two foot range. If you go up to 20 lb test, it will swim one foot deep. So we’ve hit all the depth ranges with this one bait. The key reason for wanting it to swim so shallow is a lot of other square bills dig into the bottom. When you are shing really, really shallow, most other baits are digging really hard in the dirt, and you waste half your cast because you get mired down in the muck and the dead leaves laying on the bottom. If you study what’s going on, even in 4-6 feet of water, most of the cover you are try- ing to contact sits a few feet higher off the bottom anyway, so by not plowing the open bottom, you are simply hustling the bait cleanly above open bottom and slowing it down to bounce and work it in the cover contacted above the bottom. What ima has ingeniously done here is to produce a shallow-running square bill that you can get up in shallow water and bang it through the cover, not digging the empty open expanses between cover where other cranks waste your cast. Typically, square bill type shing is summer or fall shing, banging it fast through the cover, going for a reaction bite. When the bait de ects off a piece of cover, you can semi- pause it and start twitching it in the cover, and it will kind of walk-the-dog underwater. Twitching a crank is really hard to do with a plastic bait because most other plastic baits aren’t buoyant enough. So what they’ll want to do underwater is to roll really hard to the sides, and they’ll typically get hung up, your line will get hung up in the hooks. Not so with the ima Squarebill. We have made it so buoyant that it very easily walks the dog under the water. It will almost remind you of shing a jerkbait but not quite that erratic and without making the pauses you make using a jerkbait. The ima Squarebill will stay down in the cover by simply keeping a tense line and therefore water pressure against the lip while you keep twitching on it. As soon as you stop doing anything with the bait, it’s going to rise right back up, which is really good because when you get stuck and snub it up on a piece of cover, typically you can let go of the bait (let slack line) and it will back itself out. There’s another deal you’re able to do with this bait, and that’s simply by keeping your rod tip up (with any line test), you can wake it on the surface. You can twitch it on top, and it is so buoyant, stays up so easily, that you can actually walk the dog, left to right in a zigzag action on top. There are no other balsa baits or plastic cranks that can do that, not that I know of. Catch ya later. BW Bill Lowen was key in the design of ima’s new Squarebill and it’s his signature bait. It will be released at the Bassmaster Classic in February 2011.

The beauty of the ima Square Bill is it’s really three or four baits in one. While some other square bills are good burned, others are at their best when they’re waked or twitched. Some do well deflecting off cover, while others are best in open water. The ima Square Bill can match each attribute and talent, with no weakness. My favorite is to mix it ALL up on a single retrieve, going from twitching to waking, to reeling it down to three feet to burning it. It’s not just a jack- of-all-trades, it’s a master of each one, too. BASS Elite Angler, Bill Lowen


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Barred BlaCk BaCk Chart

splatter sOur CandY

January/February 2011