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Lure Review

WTF!! A Big Bait Side Dish : BaitSmith's 5" Shad (continued)

This proved the key when fishing down in El Novillo Lake in Mexico back in 2009 where simple casts out past structure, and retrieves along the outer edges proved fruitless on our trip. Instead the bite seemed to be with soft plastics pitched up tight into cover. I was determined to get bit on a swimbait style lure so finally I tried pitching up tight to a tree and letting my Five-inch Shad sink to the bottom. When it reached bottom on my very first pitch to a sunken tree, I popped the bait up off the bottom and WHAM! Instant hook up! I swung to set and the jig style hook of the BaitSmith Five-inch Shad took hold and the battle was on.

... to something more in line with an actual shad tail.

There were occasions where it felt like I got hit, but on the swing, all I got was water. Finally on one trip, after the third time this happened, I thought maybe my bait was getting tail swiped, so I attached an Owner pre-tied stinger harness to see if that might help with hook up percentages. Sure enough it did. I managed one fish with the harness on, but the frequency of strikes went way down. Could be I missed the feeding window, or it could be the extra hardware made the bait less appetizing or maybe both.

After several tail swipe hits, adding a stinger harness produced this hungry bass.

Retrieve: The BaitSmith Five-inch Shad descends at a rate of just over one foot per second. On a slow crank of the handle, the bait swims straight with a nice fluttering action in the tail. This action is not the usual side to side oscillation but as far as I can tell it’s a combination of an opening and closing of the v in the bait’s tail along with alternating side to side fluttering of it’s tips. In other words, when the top of the v-tail moves to the right, the bottom of the v-tail moves to the left and they continue to alternate and open and close as you retrieve.

A better look at the 5" Shad's v-cut tail.

At faster speeds, the bait runs true and you can even twitch it like a jerk bait. On a jerkbait type retrieve, the Five-inch Shad will kick forward flashing its side, but then fall straight again as you relax your rod. I had best success with this bait dragging and hopping it off the bottom like a struggling or injured shad. On the descent, the bait’s tail flutters slowly. Fish do not hesitate to pound this bait into the bottom as they strike it either.

The plastic used for this bait is very soft giving the bait very good tail action at all speeds.

Durability: The Five-inch Shad holds up better than I anticipated. Given it’s relative small size, it’s easy for any good sized fish to inhale the bait. This probably helps. I think most damage to the bait comes from snagging it in rocks, but overall it holds up rather well. I wasn’t throwing this bait 100% of the time on any trip, but I did have one I threw fairly regularly and it held up for several outings with just enough abuse to make it look like an injured bait fish. That is, until I snagged and lost it to a rock pile in Clear Lake, CA.

This El Novillo Lake bass wanted the bait tight into structure.

Availability: Baitsmith’s Five-inch Shad has been readily available since late 2008 or early 2009 and retails for the modest price of eighteen dollars, give or take. There are three available colors, and only one fall rate.


BaitSmith 5" Shad Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very well crafted bait 9
Performance Good fast, slow or hopped 8.5
Price Considering the quality of this bait, pretty good 7.5
Features pretty standard 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) Very realistic profile right down to the tail 8
Application Small enough to be fished anywhere, any time 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Small and light enough to be tossed on standard gear - A few more color choices would be nice
+ Good durability  
+ Good at a variety of retrieves  


What hungry bass can resist fast food?


Conclusion: The life of a shad is an unenviable one. From the moment they emerge as fry, their fate is to serve as sustenance for larger predators.  Small fish get eaten plain and simple. As an angler, using a lure with the profile of this universal side dish would be akin to bass using a french-fry in an attempt to get us to bite. All that's left for us is to figure out where fast food row is on any particular day, but once you locate the mall, toss the BaitSmith Five-inch Shad out and hang on. It may not be traditional big bait madness, but What the Finesse, it's still fish catching fun. I'll take a four pounder please, extra fries, and hold the cheese.









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