Feel the Thunder, Lightning and the Thunder Cricket By Strike King
Where's the Thunder?: It's a little ironic that a bait with the word "Thunder" in its name really feels more like a finesse option. I personally, fished the Thunder Cricket on an Abu Garcia IKE Delay Series 7'-10" medium heavy cranking stick matched with an 8.0:1 Revo4 IKE casting reel spooled with 16lb Finatic Fluorocarbon Line. What I found both at Clear Lake and in subsequent tests is that this bait has a
somewhat subtle vibration compared to other similar baits I've thrown. Not to say if this is good or bad because it obviously works.
It's difficult to argue with results like this
Not satisfied with the feeling the Thunder Cricket was giving me with the afore mentioned combo, I decided to switch line and throw the bait on 50lb Finatic Pro Series Braid. I had some spooled on my Revo4 Rocket, so it was an easy switch. On my first cast, I discovered why the Thunder Cricket felt so quiet to me. The fluorocarbon really dampened the feeling of the lure back to the rod. I'm not sure how the pros can bypass that feel, but this exercise confirmed to me that I much prefer these types of baits on braid. I conducted some side by side comparisons using the same trailer just to be certain, but the Thunder Cricket is still more subtle than the Evergreen Jackhammer. However, it's almost on par with the Original Chatterbait in terms of vibration.
Shaw Grigsby followed his intuition and retied with a heavier
Thunder Cricket so he could fish it closer to the bottom
Whether throwing it on braid or fluorocarbon, the bait does what it's designed to do in coming through grass cleanly, but what I noticed the pros doing was fishing it like a square bill in more open, less weedy water and bumping it off and swimming it past anything they could find.
At one point, Shaw Grigsby cut off his 3/8 oz Thunder Cricket and tied on the 1/2 oz version because he felt he needed more depth and it's easier to slow roll the 1/2oz. About six casts later, that intuition paid off.
Roughly six casts later he was rewarded with this Clear Lake
Another way to vary the action of the bait is your choice in trailer. Most of the pros matched the Thunder Cricket with Strike King's KVD Perfect Plastic Blade Minnow. Billy Hines on the other hand, chose to tip the Thunder Cricket with Strike King's Menace Grub preferring the shorter body and tail of this bait to better compliment the tight vibration of the Thunder Cricket. After trying their preferences, I found Strike King's new Rage Swimmer paddletail more my speed.
Helping to keep that trailer on is the combo of a molded and
wire hook baitkeeper
Unhinging the Hinge? One aspect of this bait the pros did not really discuss was that hinged line tie. It seems the jury is still out on whether they like it or not with the one common thought being the hinge makes it more difficult for a fish to gain leverage on you while fighting and ultimately throw the bait. So that's good, but I was curious to find out if that hinge has any affect on the bait's action in the water.
You can certainly catch fish using fluorocarbon with these
baits, but braid give you much better feel
If you recall, Storm's Arashi Square Bill Crank has a similar feature and in a crankbait this hinge kind of mellows out the lure's action but also helps it run more true and return to center more quickly after running into an obstruction. The angle of pull on the Thunder Cricket is different, however, and watching it in some very shallow water, it doesn't appear as if there's much of a difference in the way the Thunder Cricket bounces off obstacles and corrects itself.
Most of the pros preferred the KVD Blade Minnow as a trailer
for this bait, but I found better success personally, with the Rage Swimmer
Cody Meyer fishes the Thunder Cricket on his Daiwa Tatula
Elite combo spooled with 20lb Seaguar Tatsu
Design & Ergonomics: The real key behind this bait seems to be that Zo-Wire hook from Owner.
The thinner diameter hook creates less drag and is lighter allowing the bait to swim more horizontally at slower speeds, but even more important is the ease by which you can set with that thin diameter hook. It doesn't take much of a swing to pin your fish with this bait and that's a good thing for anglers like myself who don't have a pro-hookset.
The Owner Zo-Wire hook is the backbone of this bait
Otherwise, the bait comes with detailed paint schemes on the head to match the silicone skirt. The skirts, unfortunately, are secured with a thick plastic band rather than being tied on.
Another look at the Thunder Cricket's head and blade paint
scheme to match the skirt in each color combo
Price & Applications: The Thunder Cricket is available in four sizes from three eighths of an ounce through three quarters, so it's easy to find a weight that will allow you to fish the depth you prefer. It is also available in ten different colors. Retail price on this bait is $13.99 and as these four pros have demonstrated, you don't have to stick to grass beds when throwing this bait. When the fish are active, it's a good search tool as well.
Retail price on this bait is $13.99