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Lure Review


A Surprisingly Good First Offering from FishLab - The Bio Gill Swimbait and Glidebaits (continued)


Does the world need another bluegill bait? Probably not. There are already plenty of very good bluegill baits on the market to pick from (the Jackall Gantarel being my personal favorite), however most of these retail from $30 to $110 dollars each, depending on the brand. At the time of FishLab's launch there were very few offerings below the $20 dollar mark, and the market was really devoid of quality offerings closer to the $15 dollar mark. So does the world need a truly affordable quality bluegill bait? Maybe.


The moment of splashdown with the plastic lipped Bio Gill Wakebait version


While they do have a somewhat mass produced look they also exhibit some custom bait elements including 3D fins, matching painted tails, and branded hardware (VMC). Even though the bodied are made out of plastic the finishes on some of the baits also makes them look like more costly custom baits which are often made out of resin, by effectively mixing 3D textures and base paint with use of vertical patterns or spots to give the lures more depth, and more lifelike appearances.


So which was more effective, the 4" or 5" models? Interestingly strike rates were similar and it really depended on the hatch. I did catch more fish on the heavier Slow Sink model and at times wanted to fish the bait so fast I even wished there was a heavier fast sink model


While the baits pass the eye-test I was even more impressed when I started fishing the baits, and the swimbait and wakebait models behaved exactly how you would expect them to, with smooth swimming actions that can be made more erratic with pauses and twitches with the tip of your rod. 


After extended use I noticed some slight bending on the hooks and some rash on the lure but overall these baits hold up very well. No blown out joints!


The Bio Gill Glide Bait is the one that I felt offers anglers the most unique retrieve. Like other glide baits the Bio Gill Glide slides back and forth with a predictable cadence on slow retrieves, and I found that it leans slightly creating just a little more visible flash. Increase your retrieves to a moderate rate and the bait really starts to come to life, and by mixing up retrieves I was able to get it to swim very erratically which immediately drew attention from bass. I'm not sure if the fish were keying in on the water displacement, increased flash, or what they perceive as injured prey, but the ability to mix things up with this bait enables anglers to effectively work fish that are at various aggression levels, and at varying depths.


One of the best things about fishing baits like the Bio Gills... the opportunity for quality fish


The slow sink models are designed to target fish in three to ten foot depths, while the suspending version is made for working fish at the top of the water column, and down to a maximum of five feet. I had difficulty getting the slow sink model all the way down to the maximum depth, mostly because the bait does need some retrieve speed to move properly, and I personally tend to fish hard-bodied bluegill baits faster than softbodies. There were days that the fish were so aggressive that I could burn, or rip, the baits and fish would still crush the baits, and it was on these days that I wished that FishLab offered a fast sink model so I could work them even faster.


When fish were aggressively feeding in shallow water I found that fishing with straight braid was just fine, and helped me fish faster and drive hooks


Price & Applications: While I caught fish on all three variants my favorite was the Glide Bait for triggering strikes, followed by the Swim Bait, which proved to be the most effective search bait. The Wake Bait model is good, and performs much like you would expect from a lipped wakebait, but I found it more application specific, and most effective in during hot Summer conditions, whereas the other two were more effective throughout the year.


The fact that FishLab released all three versions of the Bio-Gill in parallel with the launch of their brand is impressive. It demonstrated the new brand's ability to design and produce baits that are both effective and affordable. Starting new brands is tough, but making baits that are affordable enough for all types anglers is a great start.


Though these baits are affordable I was also impressed how well they held up over time. There was the usual hook rash, and a few bent hooks, but in general the baits continued to swim and perform much as they did straight out of the packaging. Most importantly the joints on these baits held up to abuse, and I didn't have a single bait blow apart the entire season. Do I think that these are the best bluegill swimbaits on the market? No... but I do think that they are among the very best for the great prices at which they are offered. $14.99 to $16.99 is nearly half the price of the average competitor, and many times less than custom offerings. These baits are an exceptional value.


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

Fish Lab Bio Gill Glide Bait Specifications Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great overall construction that you would expect from a bait retailing for nearly twice this price. Some of the patterns are so good that they look more like resin based swimbaits than plastic based ones. The use of quality VMC hooks is a nice plus 8
Performance The Glide Bait was my favorite Bio-Gill but having one of these alongside the swimbait version is a nice one-two punch. The Glide Bait in particular really comes to life when worked with the rod tip and varying retrieves. At first I was worried the profile of the Bio Gill might be a bit too large but overall this bait performed surprisingly well 8.5
Price An incredible value. The nearest competitor is the Lucky Craft Real Bluegill at $19.99, and in many ways the FishLab offering is built better, and more consistent 9.5
Features A variety of sizes and patterns to elect from. The finishes are decent, and a crappie pattern is a nice, and seldom seen addition. The 3D finishes and durable tail give the baits a little more of a custom feel, and the heavy duty split rings and VMC hooks are a nice addition at this price point 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Overall both the four and five inch sizes were easy to fish with conventional casting rods, and effortless to work with application specific swimbait rods 9
Application Great for bass and stripers these baits represent an easy bite size snack and can even be employed for more toothy species. At this price point anglers should be willing to put them into harms way. I like the patterns that the bait was launched with, and the only thing that would help round out the total offering is a duller matte finish option, maybe a carp pattern, and a fast sink model 8.5

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:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Launch patterns are quite good. Various opaque and translucent models give anglers more options - A fast sink model, especially for the swimbait version, would increase the baits effectiveness for burning retrieves and deeper depths
+ An absolutely exceptional value. These Bio Gill hardbodies offer a ton of bang for the buck! - People are still learning about what the FishLab products and brand is all about. Swimbait desirability factor takes time as anglers learn about, and build confidence, on baits
+ Two sizes to fish from help match the hatch  
+ Armed with quality VMC hooks  
+ Surprisingly consistent and held up well over time, especially considering the price!  


Conclusion: I probably employ bluegill profile swimbaits just as much as I do shad or trout patterned baits, as they prove deadly effective in a wide variety of conditions. My personal arsenal consists primarily of Jackall Gantarels, Triton Mike Bucca's Bull Gills, and Deps Bull Shooter Glides. All three of these baits have delivered for me on many occasions, but all of them are considerably more expensive than the FishLab Bio Gill offerings, especially the $109 dollar Bull Shooter.


The market probably didn't need another hard bodied bluegill swimbait, or glide bait for that matter, but a quality offering at a significantly lower price than what is currently available is interesting. This is the niche that FishLab targeted with the Bio Gill Series, and where the new brand has succeeded.


Already winners of our Best of ICAST Awards both the FishLab Bio Gill Swimbait and Glide Baits did not disappoint, and punch way above their price point might indicate


The Bio Gill baits are an exceptional value, and if they were introduced under a JDM brand they easily would priced at least double what they retail for today. While it will take a little time for anglers to really get behind the FishLab brand quality baits like these are sure to shorten the years that it usually takes to build a following. All three of the baits are good, but it is the swimbait and glide bait models that are truly an exceptional one-two punch as a search and reaction-triggering offering. These baits are well designed, built surprisingly tough, and very reasonably priced. Both the Bio Gill Swimbait and Bio Gill Glide Bait models represent more than just great values, they check off all the right feature-performance boxes, and punch well above their price would indicate, which makes them both deserving Editor's Choice Award Winners.


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