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Lure Review

Son of a Mother, the Roman Made Negotiator Swimbait (continued)

Price & Applications cont'd: The Mother Custom is certainly not for everyone and I double check, no... triple check the knot when I tie one of these gargantuan baits on. The Trick and Negotiator on the other hand are more “reasonably” priced and easier to justify for actual fishing. Retailing for around 85 dollars the Negotiator is by no means cheap, but it is reasonably priced for the handmade functional work of art that this bait really is. I’ve caught a lot of Delta and Clear Lake Bass, and even a few Delta run Stripers, fishing the Roman Made Trick swimbait and was pleasantly surprised to discover just how different the Negotiator was to fish. Anglers can simply fish the lure slowly on the bottom or get very creative with retrieves closer to the surface. This is a fun lure to fish and when fish strike the lure the hook up percentage is very good. The Trick is a little easier to swim because anglers can simply fish with a straight retrieve but when the water is very clear or when a little finesse is required to get the big fish to bite the Negotiator can be absolutely deadly.

The joint held up well through many El Salto bass

In terms of patterns Roman Made has many custom designs, all of which are beautifully done, painting “life” on the carved wooden canvas. The only downside for U.S. anglers is that these baits are still very hard to get. The pink tail on so many of the Roman Made swimbaits is certainly distinctive but this can be a little off-putting to some swimbait anglers that prefer a more subdued realistic look. The negotiator is available with other tail patterns and we have seen ones with more traditional grey finished tails available at e-tailers like Tackle Warehouse.

The signature mark of the Roman Made brand


Roman Made Swimbait Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality An absolute work of art, this carved masterpiece is solidly crafted and painted with great detail 9
Performance This bait delivers and the hook design allows it to be fished in more snaggy areas traditional swimbaits wouldn't have a chance. The design also allow the bait to rest on the ground when sight fishing but it will still snag so watch out 9
Price Overall a fair price for such a quality lure and within the realm of pricing for some of the well known handcrafted custom swimbaits here in the U.S.  6
Features The body design and quality finish are features in themselves but the channeled hook design is the real feature here 8
Design (Ergonomics) Suffice to say this bait is much easier to fish than the Mother and in Roman Made's lineup the only lure that I think is probably easier to fish is the straight retrieve Trick 8
Application Great for bass of all sizes and can be used at all depths, including the bottom 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 a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Basically a downsized Mother Custom - Much more affordable than the Mother but still a investment
+ Excellent swimming action, is extremely consistent and predictable - Still hard to source with only limited quantities and patterns available (but at least it is here in the U.S. now)
+ Great durability on joints and fins  
+ Fish stay pinned with the leader hook design  
+ A functional work of art  


Conclusion: Handmade custom hard bodied swimbaits are a work of art and there are many that are made right here in the U.S. that are already the stuff of legend and are responsible for catching many lunker bass. Brands like 22nd Century, AC Plugs, Mattlures, Jerry Rago Baits are synonymous with quality handmade lures and record bass, trout and stripers. In Japan Roman Made is held in this same high regard and with a current world record tie you can be sure that many big bass hunters here in the U.S. are eager to get their hands on these lures. To fish the Mother takes some serious devotion (not to mention a major financial investment and some cahones to boot), but the smaller Negotiator is much more practical and easier to fish. Even bass as small as 2lbs are aggressive enough to take on this bait, and you can be sure that the big fish will absolutely inhale the bait when they strike.


The El Salto structure hold plenty of big bass, but claims a great many lures


I fished the Negotiator for a single day on a local reservoir with success and throughout my entire recent trip to El Salto Mexico it delivered. The Negotiator did not hang up like many of the other traditional treble hook armed swimbaits I brought along. Anyone that has fished El Salto knows this lake is a bass paradise, and one of the reasons is because of the countless submerged trees that seem to occupy the entire lake. This bass utopia takes just as much as it gives and anglers have lost droves of crankbaits, ripbaits and swimbaits to the underwater timber, dead line, or wayward tilapia nets. 


The Negotiator delivers


On this trip the Negotiator hung up a few times when I fished it closer to the bottom, and I consciously fished it in shallower areas where I knew we could position the boat and stick the rod straight down if retrieval was necessary. After snagging up twice and successfully retrieving the lure I actually bent out the rear hook and damaged the hookpoint. Fish were hitting the lure and I knew I was pushing my luck, but as Cal implied, you don’t bring a lure all the way to Mexico and not fish it.


Gotta love those El Salto swimbait fish


No more than three casts later I hit what felt like a tree branch coming back in on a steady retrieve. I repeated the extraction procedure and to my dismay my leader snapped. The next few minutes I tried to spot the lure but in the stained El Salto water it was useless, Salto had claimed another victim. Perhaps if the water drops a few more feet this Summer some lucky angler is going to get a nice bonus on their trip. Losing the Negotiator hurt, but I can only imagine how painful it would be to lose a 400 dollar Mother swimbait. I’d probably go swimming.   


Live to fight another day


Since the trip I’ve already ordered a replacement and you can be sure I’ll be fishing it this summer as I pursue big bass, who knows maybe I’ll work up to making more than just a few experimental casts with the Mother. The Roman Made Negotiator is a beautifully crafted lure, but it is so much more than just a pretty face, this lure has real substance and delivers a consistent and predictable retrieve that feels like an extension of your very rod, translating each subtle motion to an enticing pause or turn. To not fish a lure this good, no matter how expensive, would be a shame…. At least that is what I tell myself as I continue to mourn the Negotiator now clinging to a submerged tree in Mexico.

Looking for Roman Made Swimbaits including the Negotiator?
Tackle Warehouse has them in limited quantities









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