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Lure Review

Year of the Crank Bait Review : Custom Lures Unlimited Ikon/Ikon M2 (continued)

Casting: As expected, the IKON/M2 baits do not cast as easily as their plastic counterparts – wooden baits never do. Plastic baits benefit from fluid internal weighting systems that change the baits center of gravity depending upon movement and whether you’re casting or retrieving the lure. Because of the nature of their construction, hand carved, wooden baits do not share this same technology. Nevertheless even though these baits don’t cast as easily as their plastic counterparts, they are by no means impossible to cast.

Each IKON/M2 bait now comes with VMC hooks.

One issue those of us who toss wooden cranks a lot experience is the tumbling of the lure mid-air that often tangles the hooks and fouls the bait before it hits the water spoiling your “perfect” cast. CLU was aware of this these shortcomings and early versions of the IKON, including our test baits, shared this inherent characteristic. However, word from Kelly Barefoot himself is that they've developed a method to better balance the lure so as to deliver better casting performance without hindering the action of the lure in the water. The IKON has been updated with this new design. Nevertheless, Terry, a veteran and devotee of crankbait fishing, has devised a casting method to mitigate against this occurrence.

Here's a close-up of the splatterback finish.

Recommended Casting Technique by Terry Battisti: Wood baits have most of their weight at the front of the lure giving them that tendency to tumble in the air resulting in tangled hooks every few casts.  In order to alleviate this problem some, try this modification to your casting technique.  First off, it's best to use a moderate action cranking rod.  A moderate action rod loads slower and doesn’t put as much energy to the bait as a faster action rod.  The second and most important aspect of casting these baits is to make sure the bait is no less than four or five inches from the rod tip.  The reason for this is as the bait leaves the rod tip, the extra line acts as a shock absorber for the energy dissipated from the tip at the end of the cast.  It is this energy from the tip that will make the bait tumble end-over-end if the bait is too close to the tip prior to the cast.

Finally, a clean look at the Ikon's relatively large square billed lip.

Retrieve: The IKON/M2 are shallow running cranks diving to right around three or four feet in depth depending upon the diameter of our fishing line. Each of our test baits ran true out of the packaging at all different speeds of retrieve and in keeping with tradition, the IKON/M2 has that wide, wobbling action that we all love from our wooden cranks. I particularly enjoyed this bait when crawled just under the surface over and adjacent to any type of submerged structure.

fig 2
One last look at the wonderful detailing on this bait.

Durability: The IKON/M2 comes with a quality paint job that doesn’t flake or peel unlike most plastic cranks. The stock hooks on our test baits were a bit thin, but last when we spoke to Kelly Barefoot at CLU, he told us he was aware of this oversight and all baits now come with factory VMC black nickel hooks. Terry did manage to break the bill off of one of the baits we used during our intensive tests on the California Delta, but this could have hardly been avoided as he had made an “expert” cast to a tree branch about nine inches from the surface of the water and when he pulled the line to free the bait, his IKON came flying back to the boat at warp speed and smashed into the metal hand rail on the side of my boat! I’m not sure any bait would have survived that impact and were it not for that metal rail, I’m not sure my boat would have!

This photo is courtesy of CLU and shows the realistic scale patterns available as a $3 custom upgrade on any order of IKON and IKON M2 baits.

Availability& Custom Options: The IKON/M2 come in nine standard colors for the price of twenty five dollars ($25). Each bait is also available to order in custom colors for an extra five dollars ($5) each. Other options now available include realistic body scales on each bait for an extra three dollars ($3) as well as a glass knocker option available on each bait for an extra dollar ($1).

The Ikon proved its worth on both the California Delta and Clear Lake.

There are several retailers carrying CLU product along the East Coast, but if you’re not local to one of them, you can order direct by visiting their online order page.

(We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

CLU Ikon/Ikon M2 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality CLU makes every effort to ensure their baits are top notch in quality 9
Performance Swims back at all different speeds, throw in Terry's suggested casting technique and all is well 8
Price If you're expecting massed produced pricing, look elsewhere 6
Features Good quality components and a wonderful paint job 8
Design (Ergonomics) Details not common with wood lures and a host of custom options also available 8
Application An excellent shallow water crank 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:


J Plastic bait details in a wooden bait! L Hand carved wood cranks always come at a price.
J Intense finishes  
J Available custom order options  


Kelly Barefoot and Cal grab a photo op at ICAST 2009.

In this era of quality mass, produced baits, it’s getting increasingly difficult for a small bait manufacturer like CLU to make a dent and gain notoriety. Rather, most home grown bait companies stay that way and some even relish in relative obscurity. Not so with Kelly Barefoot and his company, Custom Lures Unlimited. He’s doing his best to ensure his baits are not status quo and that any consumer willing to take the risk on one or more of his products sees and feels the difference. Throw in the fact these are hand carved, wood baits we're talking about here, and CLU just goes on to reinforce our preference for these type of baits. We look forward to seeing more from this aggressive bait manufacturer.









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