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Lure Review


Sometimes Smaller Really is Better: The Gantarel Jr. Swimbait


Date: 10/17/17
Tackle type: Lure
Manufacturer: Jackall
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.01 - EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD

Introduction: There are a lot of good bluegill baits on the market, some bad ones too, but the original Jackall Gantarel is one of the best. Not only does the Gantarel catch fish, but in the sea of choices it has now become one of the more affordable offerings as many new handmade and premium bluegill style baits have hit the market. To expand on their original bait the company has now introduced two new versions, the larger and appropriately named Gigantarel and downsized Gantarel Jr. swimbaits. We take a look at both new baits with a focus on the smallest bait in the series to see if this “gill” really has a place in the tackle box.


Jackall Gantarel Jr. Swimbait Specifications

Type Swimbait
Length 5 inches
Weight 1.5 ounces
Material Plastic
Sections Three (Two Joints)
Patterns 8
MSRP $31.99


The Gantarel Jr. is the smallest in the series


Impressions: The Gantarel Jr. is only one and a quarter inches shorter than the standard Gantarel but it looks quite a bit smaller with a more compact profile. It weighs one ounce less than the original at 1.5oz. and has all the same basic features as the standard Gantarel, including a swiveling line-tie, swiveling hook hangers, and an extra hanger to attach weight to modify the rate of fall. On the opposite end of the spectrum the Gigantarel is whopping eight inches long, which is nearly two inches larger than the original, and weighs in at 5.4oz., making it truly a big bait. Also new across all the lines are new more realistic RT patterns which range from carp to ultra-realistic male and female bluegill finishes.


Compared to the original the Gantarel Jr. has a significantly smaller profile

Real World Tests: To test the new Gantarel lineup we fished the two new sizes in a variety of Northern California Reservoirs and the California Delta. Almost all of the bodies of water we fished in were inhabited with bluegill or sunfish with similar profiles. Due to the size and weight differences between the baits we fished the Gantarel swimbaits on a wide range of rods including heavy casting, frog, and swimbait rods. We also fished all of these lures on Sunline Supernatural monofilament and braided lines.


The Gigantarel is 8" in length and weighs 5.4oz.

Operation: It is hard to believe it has already been two years since we reviewed the original Gantarel which won our Editor’s Choice Award. When Jackall announced that they were introducing new sizes my original plan was to test them and simply write up a follow-up article but what I found was that these new baits differ enough in terms of application and performance that a deeper look was warranted.
Starting with casting the Gantarel Jr. is an absolute delight to cast. While the original required a reasonably stout rod the Jr. can be fished on general purpose medium-heavy rods, and frog and flipping rods are also excellent choices. The Gigantarel on the other hand is the first Gantarel that really is best fished with a true swimbait rod with plenty of backbone.


The Gigantarel is best fished with a rod specifically designed for tossing mid-sized swimbaits

Like the original, the Gantarel Jr. and Gigantarel are designed to imitate sunfish of various types and can be fished with either a straight retrieve or with quick handle turns and rod twitches to create a more erratic movement and even 180 degree turns.


This behavior remains the same on the Jr. size but I found it definitely took a bit more rod movement to produce the same movement on the Gigantarel as the larger profile bait exhibits greater water resistance.


Bend and send. Fishing the Gigantarel takes some muscle but in contrast the Gantarel Jr. is pretty effortless to cast all day

During the field tests I tried to cast the various sized baits into the same water, switching rods, one after another. I had just worked an area with the standard size when I switched to the Gantarel Jr. and proceeded to cast the bait into the same region that I had just worked and that is when the magic began. Not more than a few cranks in did the bait get absolutely hammered. Four pounder! I unhooked the fish and sent it right back to the same spot and cranked it back only to almost stop breathing at the sight of five more fish, all in the three to six pound class, chasing the bait and competing for it. I twitched the rod and it was railed. Five pounder!


The Gantarel Jr. draws a lot of strikes, and quality fish do not hesitate to strike what likely appears to be an easy meal

That was an exceptional day but over the last three months I have had numerous occasions where I had numerous followers and was lucky enough to see viscous strikes as the Gantarel Jr. neared the boat. The Gantarel Jr. is just that right size that bass love to snack on, and is small enough that it likely represents an easy meal for predatory fish.


Once in a while you will get that crazy one or two pounder that tries to choke down the bait but for the most part I caught mostly quality fish with the bait.


There are a wind range of patterns ranging from ultra-realistic to flashy like this "Scale Gill" pattern

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