Feeding that Big Bait Obsession with Gan Craft's Jointed Claw 303 R-One
Total Score: 7.83 -
At ICAST 2014, following the publication of our review on the Gan Craft Jointed Claw in April of that same year, Kataro Kake of Gan Craft Japan and Munenori Kajiwara of Japan Import Tackle tracked us down to show us a new size in the manufacturer's signature bait. It was a huge, 300 millimeter (or 12") Jointed Claw being readied for import the following year. That bait's official size, upon release was 303 millimeters. It's taken a while, but here now is our look at Gan Craft's Jointed Claw 303, also known as the Shaku One (one foot).
Gan Craft Jointed Claw 303 R-One (Shaku One)
||Two Piece Glide
||9.3oz / 263 g (slow float)
||Floating, Slow Float, Slow Sink
||3/0 front : 2/0 back
178 is Gan Craft's most popular size in their Jointed Claw bait. Measuring seven inches (7") in total length, it is a size easy to imagine a fish hunting down and striking. The 230, measuring nine inches (9"), takes a bit more faith to tie at the end of the line, but is actually my preferred size in this bait. The Shaku One, takes things to an entirely different level and is of a size that at times is even difficult for me to have confidence fishing - hence the delay in finishing this article.
Kataro Kake of Gan Craft Japan (left) and Munenori Kajiwara of Japan Import
Tackle (right) show us one of the original production model Jointed Claw
303s during ICAST 2014
Early versions of this bait came without hooks leaving it for anglers to decide how they want to outfit the bait. While I understand many serious minded big bait throwers are likely to choose their own hooks anyway, I always found the practice of manufacturers having anglers supply their own hooks annoying. If I'm paying top dollar for a bait, and the Jointed Claw 303 (JC 303) retails for $250, I expect it to be fishable right out of the box. It's fine if the hooks have to be attached, but I expect everything you need to fish the bait to be packaged in that box.
It's difficult to gauge the size of this bait in photos, but
with my fingers extended in this fashion from tip of thumb to tip of little
finger measures nine inches (9")
This was one of the reasons, the bait initially sat unused in my collection. I didn't have the energy or quite frankly, interest, in hunting down hooks with which to fish this bait. While I eventually took the hooks off one of my Deps SlideSwimmer 250s to fish my original JC 303, a few years later, I recently ordered another with a different fall rate. It was with this newer bait where I discovered Gan Craft was now packaging the JC 303 with hooks. This made me much happier.
Time to get the JC 303 wet
Real World Tests: Another reason for the protracted delay in fishing this bait was the fact I didn't have a stick that I enjoyed casting it with. Gan Craft's Jointed Claw baits are typically lighter than other manufacturer's baits of the same size and while the JC 303 continues this tradition, it is still a plus nine ounce bait! Most of my swimbait sticks are rated up to eight ounces max and while my Kistler KLX7107XXH is rated up to nine ounces, with big baits, typically you want to be fishing with baits somewhere in the middle of a rod's lure rating.
Initial duties for the JC 303 fell upon my Kistler KLX7107XXH
Rod Choice: Then of course, being the finicky tackle enthusiast that I am, I needed something exotic to match this bait's origin. Rather than search through other brands, I zeroed in right away on a stick Gan Craft built specifically for this bait. I set my sights on acquiring a Dead Sword Shaku-One. This is an eight foot stick with a lure rating of four to twelve ounces (4-12oz).
For a reel, I fished this bait on my Daiwa Deps DR-Z2020XHL and
Shimano Antares DC MD
Reel Choice: Choice in reel is where I veer far off from the path of what most big bait anglers choose to do. My view is as long as a reel can hold enough line for me to cast my bait the distances I need to cast in order to get bit, everything is fair game. There is no stress on the reel while your bait is in flight, so as long as I'm not down to the bare spool after each cast, I'm not going to rely on a ridiculously oversized reel to fish for largemouth bass. I matched my Gan Craft Dead Sword Shaku-One with a Shimano Japan Antares DC Monster Drive (MD).
Originally packaged without hooks, the JC 303 now comes with thin
wire trebles (3/0 on the front and 2/0 on the back)
Line Choice: My trick, to make conventional sized reels suitable for big bait duties is to use braid as my mainline and install a shock leader of either nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon. I carry this a step further by relying on a hollow braid product (either Seaguar's Threadlock or PowerPro's Hollow Ace). For the JC 303, this meant Power Pro Hollow Ace in 40lb test with a top shot of Sunline's Super Natural monofilament in 30lb test (0.441 mm in diameter).
One of my favorite aspects of this bait is the detailing that
goes into the face
Next Section: Casting the Beast that is the JC 303