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Swimbait Review


Sometimes All You Need is a Pistol. The Illude Pistol Gill Glidebait (continued)


Like many other Illude, and Lunker Fighter baits, I feel the the action, sound, and how the swimbait displaces water is more responsible for generating strikes than how realistic looking the bait is. The Pistol Gill has excellent drawing power, and fish eagerly chase the bait from Spring all the way to the end of Fall.


One of the most impressive things about the swimming action of the Pistol Gill is that it can be fished effectively at all speeds, and even when burning this swimbait back to the boat with a 8.0:1 reel it will not wash out.


The Pistol Gill has strong drawing potential and I caught smaller fish that had no business trying to east this sized gill


The ability to effectively crank the Pistol so quickly makes this bait incredibly entertaining to fish. Watching fish chase the bait and strike it is thrilling, and I also enjoyed catching a lot of schoolie stripers in the Delta by working the bait quickly with a steady retrieve.


Schoolie stripers readily chased down and crushed the Pistol too


With each fish that I caught on the Pistol my confidence, and affinity for the bait, continued to grow, as did my paranoia about losing the one bait. The Pistol Gill isn't as difficult to obtain as the Rad Rat, but it is rare enough that securing one is still a challenge. The Pistol Gill crank will also catch fish but it is the traditional lipless version that is the better swimmer, and more desirable bait. The good news is that Pistol Gill's durability is excellent, and even after catching more fish than I can count the bait shows minimal hook rash, and the original tail is frayed and just starting to tear. It is the tail that will take the most abuse and luckily Illude has replacements readily available on their site.


In the warmer months the Pistol Gill delivered some quality fish


Price & Applications: Illude is still building Pistol Gills and they are occasionally sent to retailers, or made available to anglers that are on the company's order list. Resourceful swimbait anglers can sometimes find baits in the aftermarket for sale and trade. Lendl charges a very reasonable $157 dollars per bait, and secondhand baits often sell from 165-200 dollars in the aftermarket. Cal has been able to purchase two Pistol Gills secondhand in this range, and they were both in excellent condition, and have also performed well for him. 


Even after a season of use my one bait has held up really well, and the only real signs of wear and tear are to the replaceable tail


To make his creations more readily available Lendl also offers swimbaits constructed out of resin from the Illude Lunker Fighters line. These baits still feature unique styling but are still instantly recognizable with design elements and airbrush finishes that anglers love about the brand. While it is extremely difficult to obtain a wood based Rad Rat, or Narle Gerbil, thanks it is easier to procure a Gas Rat, which is basically a smaller Triple Double Rad Rat constructed from resin. I've yet to fish the Gas Rat but many anglers report that it swims similarly to the wooden based Rad Rat, and delivers a different sound, but is still deadly effective.


The Pistol Gill is yet another quality wooden bait from Illude


It is natural to assume that wooden baits like the Rad Rat, and Pistol Gill, are "better" than ones constructed out of resin, but resin baits can be just as good fish catchers, and also offer some unique attributes that can also make them ideal for certain situations. Besides the fact that it is easier to mass produce resin baits than hand carved wooden lures, resin can also be extremely durable, offer unique sounds, and can be built in a wider range of shapes and sizes. That said, there really is something classic, and wonderful, about custom wooden swimbaits, but I've learned to appreciate the differences between the two offerings. The challenge is getting the very best out of each material, and with baits like the Pistol Gill and the Switchblade I feel that Illude has done exactly that.   


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):

Illude Pistol Gill Swimbait Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The same quality construction found on Illude's other wooden baits. Lendl's airbrush work continues to be top notch and exhibits an artistic style that is instantly recognizable 9
Performance Compact and easy to cast on most setups. You can whip this bait far and cover lots of water with the lure's excellent swimming action and ability to be fished at all speeds 9
Price Retailing for $157 dollars MSRP the Pistol Gill is a very reasonable price for a handmade wooden glide. Unfortunately with limited supply, and such high demand, the Pistol tends to go for significantly higher prices in the aftermarket 8
Features The wooden hand carved body is the core of this bait and what gives the bait the robust build. The details like the quality joint, crash pads, solid line tie, and replaceable slot-in tails all speak to the quality and refinement of the bait 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) As easy to fish as most compact glides are and while anglers can certainly get creative with the bait a straight retrieve is usually enough to draw followers. The compact and reasonable weight of this bait also makes it less intimidating to throw than many large trout style glides... just make sure to tie good knots because you don't want this one breaking off 9
Application I fished the Pistol Gill with great success targeting both largemouth and stripers three out of the four seasons. The compact size represents a bite size snack for most predatory fish that seem all too eager to inhale it. I love how fast the Pistol can be fished during the Summer, and when targeting striped bass 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 More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Handmade design and quality with the same whimsical design as other signature Illude baits - Challenging to procure due handmade nature and limited supply
+ Wooden construction is solid and durable. The bait holds up well over time and tails can be changed - The MSRP for the Pistol Gill is actually excellent but unfortunately aftermarket prices can get up there due to demand
+ Excellent artistic airbrushed finishes  
+ Quality gliding consistent action. Crash pads add to the smooth feel while providing additional joint protection  
+ Able to be fished effectively at all speeds. Will not wash out when burned  


Conclusion: When I start double or triple checking my knots I know that the bait that I have tied on has crossed over into my most coveted arsenal. Perhaps it is the fact that I only have one Pistol Gill, but I've now caught so many fish on this bait that I'd be legitimately gutted if I lost it.


While I feel that the Rad Rat is still Illude's signature bait the Pistol Gill is a true testament to just how good a hand carved wooden glidebait can be. Like the Rad Rat it delivers the best attributes the material has to offer, swims beautifully, and has excellent drawing power. The Pistol just flat out catches them.


Simply put, the Pistol Gill flat out catches fish. There are days when I want to throw 10" trout glides in pursuit of giants but on most days the Pistol gets it done!


I've thought about retiring my Illude Pistol Gill, and hanging it safely up in the garage, and yet every time I head out it manages to make it on the deck. I know that to not arm myself with the Pistol Gill would be a mistake, as this bait is not only a blast to fish, but continues to deliver almost every time that I commit to slinging it. Sometimes I feel like bombing giant trout glidebaits all day for the opportunity for that one big bite, but on most days I find that all I really need is the Illude Pistol.


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