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Swimbait Review


Savage Value, the Pulse Tail RTF Bluegill Swimbaits (continued)


Ease of Actuation: Though small in size the RTF bluegills are able to impart quivering action at the tail section thanks to the compact wedge shaped boot tail design. There are small cuts in the center of the tail, what Savage calls their "Split rear fin" design, that allows water to channel through the  center of the tail creating a tighter, more vibrating, versus strong side to side, wagging pattern. Like many other soft plastic swimbaits the action on the bait is pretty subtle, and designed to be more genuine in appearance, than a hard bodied glidebait for example that has a more erratic action designed to call attention to itself.


Notice of the tail section prior to the wedge is thinned out to allow for more vibration and tail kicking action. This is one of the baits that actually can be swam effectively at lower speeds


The RTF comes through the water cleanly and the tail wags in a convincing side to side cadence at just about any speed. Burn the lure and the tail really gets going and really does look like a bluegill trying to flee from prey. The best part of this tail design is that even at low speeds the tail still vibrates realistically.


When it came to hookup ratio I experienced about a 80% overall success rate when it came to strike versus hookup. This was roughly 20% higher than I experienced with the Pulse Tail LB Bluegills that requires bass to pull hard or collapse the loose body to deploy the hidden hook. Of course the advantage of the LB design is that it can be fished in much more snaggy structure.


Most fish will try and engulf the RTF much like they would when trying to swallow a live bluegill whole. Most of our fish were hooked in the top of the mouth but when fish hot the bait from the side the hookup ratio drops


Design and Ergonomics: The Pulse Tail RTF Bluegill is pretty much as easy as it gets when it comes to fishing soft-bodied swimbaits, and just like the name implies all you really need to do is tie it on and start casting. This is one of those easy to fish swimbaits that can be considered a "gateway" to much larger swimbaits.


Once anglers start catching a few fish on the RTF their confidence grows, and before you know it they are searching for larger baits in the hope of landing a giant.


It is for those reasons that it would be great to see Savage introduce a larger version of the RTF Bluegill. The company does offer the larger 5" 3D Bluegill but they do not feature the same pulse tail design, or what I feel is the more realistic looking bluegill profile.


A largemouth falling fro the White Gill. I found this pattern especially good when the water was stained


Price and Applications: The swimbait category is a very unique segment of the bait market. There are those anglers that favor hard bodies, others that only fish soft bodies, then the sub-categories of custom baits versus mass produced  ones.


Though the mass produced baits often look more refined, are more consistent, and even more realistic looking, they rarely are met with the same hype and fanfare that a garage-bait drop can generate. There is even a segment of the market that buys swimbaits simply to collect them, something that I personally partake in with some of my favorite hard-bodied swimbaits.


Some of it boils down to supply and demand and this is why I appreciate baits like the RTF Bluegill, which are readily available, and can be fished day in and out without fear of losing a lure that you simply cannot replace.


In situations where there is a lot more weedy structure Savage Gear also offers the Pulse Tail LB (Loose Body), which features a weedless design


Retailing for only $12.99 each the RTF Bluegill is a great value. The five patterns that are available do a nice job covering the spectrum of bluegill that inhabit most lakes, and the white gill is an especially interesting pattern that is different than most available gills. The only additional pattern we would love to see is a juvenile crappie which would be killer for many lakes across the country.


It is also important to note that Savage Gear is just getting started when it comes to their Bluegill Line and following up on the RTF and LB gills the company is also introducing a 3D RTF with a four segment body and the more traditional tail to generate a more exaggerated swimming action. This bait will also be 4" in length and weigh 3/4oz. and retail for only $9.99. In addition, the company also announced a line-through version of the Pulse Tail which I am very excited about as it should deliver the same type of action with an even better strike to land ratio. The line-through baits are also going to be larger in size, at 5 1/2" each, and weigh 3oz. for the slow sink and 3 1/2oz. for the moderate sink models. These will retail for $14.99 and be available at the very end of the year.


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):

Savage Gear RTF Bluegill Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great overall build quality that is more refined and consistent than most custom made baits. The finish is ultra realistic thanks to use of 3D scans and a print process 8
Performance Overall performance was quite good, and while I had the most strikes when the weather was warm and retrieving the bait at moderate speeds I was also able to catch fish fishing slow and deep, and even jigging the bait when the water was cooler 8.5
Price Very good deal for a bait that comes ready to fish and swims consistently right out of the package 9
Features This is a well designed bait that features an integrated lead weighting system, EWG hook, foam integrated rattles, and a tail design that gets moving at just about any speed 8
Design (Ergonomics) Easy to cast and retrieve and can be fished with standard casting rods with ease thanks to the 1oz. weight. Our only wish was that there was a larger size available and we are excited about the coming line-through version 8
Application Fished slow, burned, or even jigged for deeper holding fish this bait can be effective all four seasons when retrieve is adjusted. The bait does have a mass produced feel, which leads to excellent quality and consistency, but it may not appeal to swimbait anglers looking for a more custom made looking poured swimbait. We would consider this a workhorse mainstream bait and at the price of only $12.99 you won't feel too bad if you lose one to a deep snag 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:


+ Realistic looking profile and finish - Only one size available (4")
+ Easy to fish right out of the package - Hookup ratio good but not great
+ Integrated foam rattles add an extra attention element, and make this bait more effective for night fishing as well  
+ Effective at multiple speeds and throughout the water column  
+ Savage value  

Conclusion: Savage Gear has a history of delivering realistic baits that are also reasonably priced, and the new Pulse Tail RTF continues that tradition. The RTF ups the level of realism in both profile and finish and it is good to see that the brand will soon be introducing even more additions to the lineup, especially the upcoming larger line-through version.

The Savage Gear RTF may not have the same allure as some custom swimbaits but it does catch fish and represents a great overall value

The Savage Gear Bluegill is a great starter swimbait, and a great workhorse bluegill for when the bite is tough and the fish want what they may perceive as an easy meal. The ability to fish this bait throughout the water column, and at multiple speeds from a burn to a crawl, make this one of the more flexible little ultra-realistic bluegills on the market, especially at this price point. It is also one of the baits that can be effective all four seasons as long as you adjust your retrieve, and are adept at finding where the fish are holding. Overall this is yet another savage value from the company, a Best Value Award winner to be exact. 

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