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Swimbait Review


Gan Craft's Foray Into Crawler Madness : The Joi Crawler 178


Date: 8/15/21
Tackle Type: Lure
Manufacturer: GanCraft
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.67 - GOOD

If there's one bait company that has made the most out of a signature bait and bait profile, it's Gan Craft. Their Jointed Claw glide bait is available in six different sizes ranging from two and three quarter inches up to twelve, but there's also a waking version, a new hybrid glide swimmer (Shift 183), a single piece walker, and even a spy bait. All of these baits are based off the same, iconic profile. This year, along with the afore mentioned Shift 183, Gan Craft debuted yet another variant designed to latch onto one of the fastest rising trends in topwater craziness. Introducing Gan Craft's Joi Crawler.


GanCraft JoiCrawler Specifications

Type Crawler
Length 7"
Weight 2.1oz / 59grams
Material Hard Plastic
Colors ~2
Hooks #1 Front : #2 Rear
MSRP $89.99


Impressions: Crawler baits are a true oddity to me and from what I can tell, the Joi Crawler is pretty much a floating, Jointed Claw 178 body with wings attached to the sides. I find these baits odd because of all the hardware and inherent fragile nature of the design. The bodies of these baits are solid, but those wings appear so susceptible to damage from an errant cast, ferocious strikes, and just sheer bad luck. Yet the odd nature of their design is what makes them so appealing.


Introducing Gan Craft's Joi Crawler 178


Of the crawler baits I've thrown, Monka Lure Work's FPJ, and Megabass's I-Wing, the Joi Crawler is the most tame in terms of appearance and finish. Of course, early releases of this bait were only available in two colors and since beginning this write up, I've seen a couple new color variations beginning to appear, but still, Gan Craft has never been very outlandish or flamboyant with their color patterns (save for limited run 178 Jointed Claws). If ever there were a time to change that narrative, however, this bait is it.

Matched with my DeadSword Magnum, also by Gan Craft

Real World Test: I fished the Joi Crawler on board my Gan Craft Dead Sword Magnum casting rod paired with my 2007 Shimano Antares DC spooled with 50lb Seaguar Threadlock hollow braid and a topshot of 30lb Sunline Saltimate nylon leader material. Following in tradition with all their baits, Gan Craft ships the Joi Crawler with a snap taped to the packaging underneath the bait, but I chose one of Molix's Hyper Snaps to secure my bait. I wanted the extra security of that cross lock design.

Early success with the Joi Crawler!

Castability : For all the awkwardness brought about by the extra hardware of lures like the Joi Crawler, you'd think it'd be almost impossible to cast these baits. However those flailing wings conveniently tuck away during a cast enabling the bait to fly on target like an Osprey attempting a moonwalk into its next meal. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but launching the Joi Crawler for distance and accuracy is relatively easy - as long as you're accustomed to casting baits of this size. It will tumble a little in the air but result varies depending on how smooth and forceful you are with your casting motion.

The wings give this familiar 178 body an entirely new dimension

Ease of Actuation : Once the bait touches down, it doesn't take much to get it moving. I do recommend pausing a second or two allowing the bait to settle on the surface before beginning your retrieve. Otherwise, the reel I used features a 7:1 retrieve ratio, once considered fast, but now middle of the road. Turning the handle at a medium pace was about the right cadence to get the Joi Crawler doing its best fifty meter freestyle sprint back to the boat. While its form won't get it into the Olympics, the commotion it creates is on the quieter side when compared to something like Monka's FPJ Crawler.

Hardware held up for me, but individual results may vary

However, the difference here is while I felt this bait was best at a medium rate of retrieve, you can actually go faster with the Joi Crawler and it won't burn out. Level of commotion increases the faster you retrieve this bait. So while it may be more quiet than some other crawlers I've fished, it's also a bit more versatile in the cadence. If the particular bite you're on calls for a fast moving bait with a lot of commotion, the Joi Crawler could be the answer.

The tail slides out easily for replacement and/or storage

Hook Up Ratio : One of the biggest questions with baits of this type, because of all the funky hardware and strange profile is how effective are they when that eventual strike comes. While I don't find the standard Jointed Claw 178 particularly large, when fished in the Joi Crawler configuration, those wings just add another dimension to the bait that would make it seem as if a bass might have a hard time fitting it in its mouth. To my surprise, hook up ratio with this bait is very good. I should also note, I fished this bait with the stock hooks (as I do with all baits I write up) and had no issues. Many anglers prefer to swap out the hooks on their Jointed Claw baits feeling the stock hooks are not as good. That may very well be the case, but I personally, have not had any issues with their stock hooks.

It takes a moment or two for the Joi Crawler 178 to get in proper position after splash down, but once it does, it's ready to go

Durability : Crawler style baits are a lot of fun. The commotion they create can be likened to a buzzbait on amphetamine laced steroids. It is absolutely insane. However, if there's a downside to these crazy baits, it's their durability - specifically the wings. After a strike or two, maybe three, those wings can be knocked out of tune disrupting all that beautiful chaos the bait creates on the surface. Going on the small sample size of only a handful of hits, I can relay my experience with the Joi Crawler as being very good. Not once has my test bait fallen out of tune forcing me to figure out how to get it to swim right again. However, as with all baits - but especially crawler baits - your results may vary.

Bait Detail : A feature and dimension breakdown of Gan Craft's Joi Crawler 178 as detailed by our Swimbait SkunkWerx division

Design/Ergonomics: As discussed earlier, Gan Craft's Joi Crawler is essentially the manufacturer's Jointed Claw 178 body with crawler wings attached to the side. These wings are mounted at a specific angle, likely to best take advantage of the action, and are easily replaceable. Though not available at the time of this writing, we understand there are plans to make replacement wings available before too long. These wings are specific to the Joi Crawler and are not borrowed or licensed from another manufacturer. Initially available in only two different color schemes, that limitation is also changing with time as that number is up to four at the time of this writing.

Gan Craft's Joi Crawler 178 retails for $89.99

Price & Application: Gan Craft's big bait product have grown to be among my favorites from the combination of their effectiveness, accessibility, and affordability. Their Joi Crawler retails for $89.99 which may seem like a lot, until you compare it to the likes of some of the more exclusive JDM options like Monka Lure Works, Kurouto, and KRR Original. This is of course, if you can find them. Of the readily available alternatives like Attic, Imakatsu, Jackall, and Megabass, however, the Joi Crawler is definitely at the upper end in price, so it strikes a balance.


GanCraft JoiCrawler Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Seemingly simple given its origins, but well executed nonetheless 8
Performance Surprisingly easy to work at all speeds 8
Price A little pricey but not outrageously so 7
Features Wings attached to a familiar profile with replaceable hardware 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) Currently available in only 4 colors, but if we know Gan Craft, that number will increase as time goes by 7.5
Application When the last thing you want is to be subtle in your topwater presentation, it's time to reach for a crawler 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:


+ Wings held up well during our tests - Level of noise seems subdued for a crawling bait
+ Easy to cast - For now, very limited color options
+ Can be fished fast without burning out  

If you've been looking for a JDM-esque crawler to help you sample the craze, GanCraft's JoiCrawler belongs on your list of baits to consider

Conclusion: As with most bait products, topwater crawlers are nothing new. They've been around in various forms for quite some time, but for some reason are seeing a big uptick in popularity. Both larger, more established bait companies as well as small, garage based operations are building them, and they seem to be disappearing off store shelves - virtual or otherwise - faster than they are being offered. Many of the more coveted baits have JDM origins. GanCraft is about as JDM as they get. It may not be as crazy as some other crawlers I've thrown, but maybe that level of craziness isn't what the fish always want. What I do know is the JoiCrawler gets bit, and no matter how exotic a bait may be, if it doesn't get bit, or worse yet, if you can't even obtain one to tie to the end of your line, it doesn't do me any good. If you've been looking for a JDM-esque crawler to help you sample the craze, GanCraft's JoiCrawler belongs on your list of baits to consider.


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