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Swimbait Review


When You Wish Upon A Dream - Smash'em (continued)

I'd been fishing this bait over the course of several trips and felt a few, non committal bumps, but that all changed one morning. Instead of a bump, I felt that tell tale double tug. My heart raced as I swing and felt the reassuring weight of the fish at the end of the line. I watched my line rise off in the distance. The fish was going to jump and because it was so far from the boat, there was little I could do to prevent that from happening. When it broke the surface, I could see it was at least five pounds and all I could think was "stay on, stay on" and it did, for the first jump. On the second jump, a little closer to the boat, the fish threw the bait and the battle was done. Point fish.

A feisty little gill eater

Two casts later, instead of the double tug, this time I felt a dull knock and a sudden weight at the end of my line. I pointed the rod at my bait, reeled in slack and swung hard - just in case. Sure enough, it was another fish. I thought for sure I had this one, but on its first jump, it also threw the bait. I was 0 for 2. My natural inclination was to lay blame my failure on the style of bait, but I paused for a moment and played each battle back in my mind and thought, perhaps it was the rod. Keep in mind, the iRod IA784C-H is designed as a frog rod and has a lure rating of up to three ounces. But just because the DSS Shad falls within the rod's lure rating doesn't mean they're a good match. I felt like I needed a rod with a faster taper to drive the hook of the DSS Shad home.

A look at the wide head of the DSS Shad

Honestly, I was deceived by the bait's relatively small size and took for granted the rod upon which I chose to fish it would be sufficient. My next time out with the bait, I changed things up relying upon my first generation Edge Rods Black Widow 807-1 swimbait stick (featuring the same build as the Flip 787-1 reviewed back in 2014) paired with my newly acquired Shimano Japan Exsence DC SS HG. The 807-1 is built with a mod-fast taper, not ideal for a jig-style hooked, soft swimbait, but it is rated up to five ounces in lure weight and is much more stout than the IA784C-H. It just felt right. I spooled the Excence with 50lb Threadlock and installed a topshot of 25lb Gold Label Fluorocarbon - both lines are made by Seaguar.

 Dialed in with the proper rod, reel, line choice, the fish started coming into the boat

That first trip back with my re-adjusted soft swimbait combo, it was as if the fish knew. The bite had grown tough again. Finally, some time around mid-day, after hours of casting the bait to no avail, as my concentration waned, I felt it - that double tug action! I was caught so off guard, I fumbled at reeling in the slack but swung anyway, felt the pressure, and then boom - nothing. Now I was about ready to blame the bait, but just as that thought entered my mind, I felt that tug again! I quickly began reeling and the battle was on! What happened is, through the force of my hookset with the 807-1, I turned the fish's head and pulled it toward the boat. It was swimming right at me! A quick net job by Zander and the fish was in the boat. The DSS Shad's hook was firmly planted in the roof of the fish's mouth. This was the proper rod, reel, line combination for me with this bait.

The pre-rigged DSS Shad features hand painted finishes

Durability : Finally in proper synchronization with bait, line, rod, reel, and more active fish, I found a groove with the DSS Shad and began to land more fish. Not enough to tear up the bait, but enough where one DSS Shad showed some visible teeth marks. My feeling is durability on these baits is pretty good and one advantage a pre-rigged bait like the DSS Shad has is there's less opportunity for the bait to tear because nothing is sliding around in the body of the bait and no hook points are being torn out of the plastic.

When they want this bait, they want it

Design & Ergonomics: At 6 inches in length, Dream Smasher's DSS Shad is relatively small in swimbait circles, but unlike most paddletail varieties, this bait has a rather substantial build. Along with the two variants of the DSS Shad, and the 4" DSS Gill, the company makes a 6" King Gill rigged with a bottom hook treble. For those wanting something even more substantial, Dream Smasher recently introduced their Flying Vick, an almost eight inch, slot belly swimbait with a new, v-style tail that by itself weighs just over four ounces. Rigged with the recommended 12/0 Owner Beast Hook, and the DSS Flying Vick is almost five ounces in total lure weight.

Weekly bait drops are on Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm Central

One of the reasons I concentrated on fishing the top hook variant of Dream Smasher's DSS Shad (aside from the fact I'm a little lazy to rig the weedless variant myself) is the difference in their finishes. The top hook, with that custom internal harness, is hand painted in what is for now, four standard colors. As the time moves forward, I'd expect this selection to grow. The weedless DSS Shad, is poured with the color mixed into the soft plastic formula, so it has a different look. This variant is available in up to seven patterns for now.

That double tug manner in which the fish hit these baits can be addicting

Price & Applications: Dream Smasher's soft bodied swimbaits are a premium product and priced as such. It's easy to fall into the assumption that since this is a soft plastic product, cost should not be that high, but $24.99 for a single top hook shad and $29.99 for the two pack, weedless, is enough to make you pause long enough to miss out on the drop. If that's not enough to make you think twice, $39.99 for a single, weedless Flying Vick or $54.99 for their 6" King Gill certainly is. However, don't worry, there are plenty others who do not think twice about these prices because Dream Smasher manages to sell out of available product each and every drop (visit their website for the latest drop schedules).


Dream Smasher Swimbaits Shad & Gill Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Seemingly simple in design, but each bait goes through a rigorous QC process to ensure consistent results 8
Performance Impressive at all speeds. Even more impressive is the perfect balance of the baits rigged with that custom designed internal harness. 8
Price These are premium soft bodied baits and priced as such 7
Features It's easy to take this bait for granted for its size, but that wedge tail design is the real deal and oh, that internal harness... 8
Design (Ergonomics) Offered in two configurations and either hand painted or an integral color mix. 7.5
Application The water had to warm up before I had success, but those who are more skilled at fishing big baits in cold water will most assuredly be able to capitalize on this bait's size and action of that tail. Rest assured, once the fish are more active, they crush this thing. 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:


+ The wedge tail on this bait inspires confidence right from that very first swim - Hand painted baits are only available in pre-rigged configuration
+ Available pre-rigged with an exposed hook, or with a slot belly for you to rig on your own in weedless config - Patterns with integrated color only available in weedless configuration
+ Internal harness on pre-rigged bait works extremely well  
+ Premium soft plastic bait with very good durability  


I have a feeling this bait is going to become a staple in my big bait box


Conclusion: While the DSS Shad didn't necessarily smash any dreams I may have had throwing a soft bodied, wedge tail bait, it did instill with me a new confidence in this bait classification. Other than a poor choice in rod initially, there were no curled up tails snagged in the hook, or other strange maladies affecting my hook up ratio. Once corrected, the fish began coming into the boat. I like the compact size of the DSS Shad and the consistency of its soft plastic and while I did not fish this bait in either the shad or gill configuration like a jig sitting on the bottom, I appreciate it has that flexibility. Time will tell, but I have a feeling this bait is going to become a staple in my big bait box.


Looking for Dream Smasher Swimbaits? Follow them on Facebook and watch for drop announcements.










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