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Lure Review

Get Real, Koppers Live-Target Smallmouth Cranks (continued)


Retrieving: Both sizes and diving depths exhibit a very tight wobble in which the lure’s tail section swings back and forth, and at the same time the lure also tilts side to side rapidly. This tilting motion gives the lure flash in the water and really showcases the lure’s realistic finish. The Koppers Smallmouth Bass lure features translucent effects that transition down from the top of the lure down the side, this gives the lure an even more genuine look in the water from all angles. Even when the lure is moving quickly we could make out the brightly colored fins. The weight transfer system that helped make precise casting easy also serves as part of the lure’s rattle system once retrieved. The bait emits a combination of rattle and knocks that we would classify as fairly subtle.


During our tests we fished the bait with a Cumara CUC70H


Koppers gives anglers the ability to target fish in different levels of the water column with the two different diving depth versions. The smaller 2 ¾” version 5/16oz. dives from 3-5 feet while the 3/8oz. version dives up to 5-7 feet. The larger 3 ¼” version is able to get a little bit deeper and the shallower version gets down 4-6 feet while the larger lipped deeper diver can achieve 6-8 feet depths. At rest all versions float.


When not retrieved all versions float and the rear section points downwards while the head of the bait breaks the surface


When it comes to finishes the metallic version definitely puts out a lot more flash in the water and even though I preferred the more subtle look of the matte version throughout our tests the metallic version drew more strikes. The added element of flash just seemed to garner more attention. I also believe that some largemouth bass were mistaking the metallic version as a shad. The only time the matte version performed better than the metallic version was when we moved up the river system and fished in clearer water.


What smallmouth bait would be complete without red eyes


Durability: I’ve encountered some durability issues with Koppers shad lipless baits where the metallic finish starts to flake off after contact with rocky structure. I didn’t experience any of this whatsoever with the Live Target Smallmouth Bass. The finishes, especially the natural matte version, are surprisingly durable for a lure of this detail level. The plastic lip on the Koppers Smallmouth Bass is able to absorb most of the damage from contact with structure and I didn’t experience any lip breakage issues whatsoever.


The natural matte version clearly shows the texture details throughout this realistic looking bait


Price & Applications: The lure has red eyes and brown bands along the side as you would expect from a smallmouth imitator but look closer and details are inspiring. Koppers adds protruding fins that are actually painted to appear translucent, the lure’s head shape drops down realistically instead of simply sloping downwards, red paint is used beneath the gills and the company even adds an orange dot where the fish’s vent should be….talk about attention to minutiae. All of this does come at a price and the Koppers Smallmouth crankbait retails for $11.49 per lure, and while this is more affordable than some competing premium Japanese lures it is still is considered a pricey crankbait.  


The "Live Target" brand is printed on top of the lure


I found the Koppers Live Target Smallmouth Bass a good lure for searching for fish in and around areas where smallmouth inhabit. The lure worked very well in clear water where the more realistic finish really became a positive quality. In lakes where there are no smallies I was able to get largemouth to take the bait but the strike numbers really went down which leads me to believe that the bait truly does exploit realism to get fish to strike just as much, if not more than the action of the bait. This is somewhat different than many other crankbaits which outside of a general profile do little to replicate the actual prey and rely more on action as a strike trigger.


The Koppers Smallmouth Bass crank worked when there were smallies in the water and even when there were none in the region, though they did perform best in clearer water with resident smallies


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)

Koppers Smallmouth Bass Crankbait Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Quality construction and an excellent finish that looks good and proves durable enough to last through many fish 8.5
Performance Definitely best when there are smallmouth in the water this bait also proved to be good in clear water situations where a more subtle action and the bait's genuine look give it an edge. It did best when there was a population of smallmouth that come in contact with largemouth 8.5
Price At $11.29 per bait the Koppers Smallmouth Bass is on the expensive side when it comes to crankbaits. While it doesn't cost as much as some premium Japanese lures it does cost more than many crankbaits. We rated the pricing as right on the border of FAIR and GOOD 6.9
Features The two main features of this bait are the incredible finish and the internal weight transfer system 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Easy to fish the Koppers Smallmouth Bass is easy to cast and retrieve and the company even includes an instruction manual with this bait 8
Application There are two different choices in finish, two different sizes and both sizes have two different diving depths. There are plenty of choices when it comes to targeting fish either in the upper water column or right off the bottom wherever smallies come in contact with predatory fish 8

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

J Multiple choices in size and diving depth L Higher price but not as high as some premium Japanese lures
J Two different finishes  
J Extremely realistic patterns  
J Great in clear water, match that hatch!  


Conclusion: The Koppers Live Target Smallmouth Bass is a fun lure to fish, heck it is a fun lure just to look at! This bait picks up where many crankbaits leave off when it comes to replicating an actual juvenile smallmouth, it doesn’t matter which angle you look at this bait there is always something that surprises you. With two finishes, two sizes and four different diving depths there is a lure for any occasion as long as there are smallies in the water. From profile to finish this is a lure that can get both anglers and fish to turn their heads, I can’t tell you how many times during my tests that one of the other editors would look at the lure coming back to the boat and blurt out “I’d eat that.”


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