Feel the Thunder, Lightning and the Thunder Cricket By Strike King
Total Score: 8.00 -
Introduction: The manufacturer trade show circuit is long established. Shows like ICAST, the consumer expo at Bassmaster Classic, regional shows like Big Rock, are all opportunities for fishing industry manufacturers to display what's new and available for the coming year. On a much smaller scale, but ultimately more effective are the writer's camps manufacturers host to give outlets like us, access to their product out on the water together with their bass pros so we can be shown the how, what, why, where, and when for which the product was designed and bring all that information to you.
Konocti Vista Casino located right on the shores Clear Lake, CA
in Lakeport, served as host for the media event held by Strike King and Lew's
This Spring, following up their introduction of the Thunder Cricket at the Bassmaster Classic, Strike King (together with Lew's) held one such camp out of the Konocti Vista Casino at Clear Lake, California. Cody Meyer, Kent Brown, Billy Hines, and
Hall of Famer Shaw Grigsby were on hand to demonstrate the effectiveness of this bait and tell us their preferences on rigging and combo options.
Strike King Thunder Cricket Vibrating Jig
||3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4
||Hinged Line Tie, Screw Lock Baitkeeper
The team was on hand to show us Strike King's new Thunder
Cricket Vibrating Jig
Impressions: It's taken a while, but since Z-Man reigned in the harnesses with their patent and put an end to the vast majority of copy-cat product out there, new vibrating jig alternates are finally taking shape.
There are a lot of options today including Z-Man's own original, and
expanded lineup, and some companies like Evergreen International
have partnered with Z-Man to introduce baits like the Jack Hammer,
while other companies like Strike King
are stepping into the ring with their own offerings.
The Thunder Cricket's blade features rounded rather than
squared off edges
Strike King is making things work with a slightly different head design, a blade with a rounded edge instead of square, and a hinged line tie. The real key in the bait's design, and what had all four pros really excited was the use of an Owner Zo-Wire hook. This hook is made from a stronger than standard metal allowing Owner to make comparable strength hooks with a thinner diameter wire. This means the hook is lighter so the Thunder Cricket, in theory, runs more horizontal in the water at slower speeds than the competition. My view is this thinner hook also gives you a higher hook up ratio because that thin wire penetrates more reliably.
If you look closely, you can see a gap beneath the line
tie. This is the channel within which the hinged line tie can move
Real World Tests: I never miss out on a chance to return to Clear Lake, CA where my passion for bass fishing was born. Getting to spend extended hours on the water with pros sharing my Western roots like Kent Brown, Cody Meyer, Billy Hines was unique, but seeing the joy out of the legend, Shaw Grigsby, being afforded the opportunity to return to equally legendary water in Clear Lake was priceless. Grigsby fishes with a joy that defines what bass fishing should be all about.
Cricket is available in sizes/weights 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, & 3/4 oz.
The writer's conference was conducted over two days in mid-April with a day for travel on either side of those two days. On the last night of the conference, I ordered a couple Thunder Crickets myself from TackleWarehouse, with next day delivery so I could follow up with my own opinion under more controlled conditions. We were all afforded the opportunity to fish the product, and for that matter any other Strike King product on hand, but unless I set up my own combos, I have tough time getting into "test" mode. I much rather spend the time getting to know each pro a little better, learn their preferences when fishing certain product, and watch/photograph them in action.
Western Pro and host of Ultimate Bass Radio throws the
Thunder Cricket on 20lb Fluorocarbon and Lew's Pro Speed Spool SLP matched
to a 7'-0" medium Lew's David Fritt's Cranking Stick
Line Choice: What I found interesting is each pro had the same preference on the type of line to use when fishing the Thunder Cricket - fluorocarbon, 20lb fluorocarbon to be exact. Three out of the four pros are sponsored by Seaguar, so maybe that explains it (Seaguar is one of the leading Fluorocarbon manufacturers in the world), but both AbrazX and Tatsu got top billing. Some would vary the pound test down to 14 depending on conditions, and if conditions are really weedy, some will switch over to braid, but 20lb fluorocarbon was the consensus baseline.
A closer look reveals the bait's skirt is held on by a thick
Reel Choice: Lew's was also a sponsor of this event and two out of the four pros were backed by this manufacturer. One of Shaw Grigsby's big sponsors is Wright and McGill, so he had these yellow rods and reels on deck (Skeet Reese Series), while Cody Meyer is sponsored by Daiwa. I noticed a lot of Pro Speed Spool SLPs and a couple Pro-Ti SLP Speed Spools on both Kent Brown and Billy Hines' front decks. Regardless of brand, they all seemed to prefer the faster (7.0:1 and above) retrieve ratio casting reels.
The bait's head features a paint scheme matched to each skirt
Rod Choice: This is where it really varied. Most of the pros recommended some type of moving bait stick. Bass pro turned Ultimate Bass radio host turned bass pro (for this event), Kent Brown, is thrilled to now have access to Lew's composite David Fritts Perfect Cranking sticks. These sticks remind him of his old glass cranking rods from yesteryear and he likes to throw the Thunder Cricket on the 7' medium David Fritts Cranking Rod. Shaw Grigsby likes a spinnerbait stick in the Skeet Reese rods. The important aspect each pro looks for in a stick for the Thunder Cricket is something with a nice tip to fire that bait where you need it to go, but with a good backbone to drive that Zo-Wire hook point home when you get hit.
Strike King's KVD Blade Minnow is
the lightning to the Thunder Cricket
for most of the pros
Billy Hines, on the other hand, likes to tip the Thunder
Cricket with Strike King's Menace Grub
Next Section: Bringing the Thunder?