Illude Lunker Fighters Zombie
Gerbil – A Deadly Walker (continued)
It took me a little bit of experimentation to unlock the full potential of
the Zombie Gerbil. At first, I fell into the trap of trying to fish it the exact
same way as the Rad Rat, which involves a combination of twitches upon landing
and mostly straight retrieves. The Zombie Gerbil has a much shorter and stouter
profile and is also taller, which complements the lure's flat joint, providing a
larger surface area to create a high-pitched clack as the two sections make
The Zombie Gerbil is still light
enough to fish all day with the right setup
Zombie Gerbil can be fished with a straight retrieve or cranked quickly to
generate a wake, the lure is primarily designed to be a surface walking style
bait. This is how I draw the majority of strikes on the Zombie Gerbil, by
positioning it near or over structure and twitching and walking the bait. The
Zombie comes to life with a combination of rod tip twitches and handle cranks,
turning and rocking back and forth, generating both a loud clack and plenty of
water movement. It's entertaining just watching this bait mimic a struggling
Notice how high the Zombie sits in
the water thanks to the bait's height. This bait is designed to walk
I would say that
70% of my Rad Rat or Zombie Rat catches come on a straight retrieve. The
opposite is true with the Gerbil, as the majority of strikes seem to come when
the lure is walked. I discussed these findings with Lendl, who explained, "the
zombie gerbil was designed with a short and stout profile for a nice meal. It
was actually made intended only for walking. A lot of people seem to think when
they see a lipped bait that it will work like a crankbait, but it's definitely
not designed to fish like a crankbait. You may be able to slow roll it and get a
nice wake from it, but it was truly designed for walking."
I fished the Zombie many different
ways, and while a straight retrieve works at times most strikes came from
walking the bait in calm water
I've seen and
heard the original Narle Gerbil in action but never personally owned one. I
wanted to talk more about the original design and how it compares to the Zombie
directly with Lendl, and whether we would see more Narle Gerbils produced in the
The Zombie Gerbil is an excellent
bait in low light situations and for night fishing where fish key in on
vibration and sound
"The Gerbil wood
version lacked consistency. Not in action but in the orientation of how it sat
on the water. It was very inconsistent due to the characteristics of wood.
Although the wood version performed perfectly well with a high pitch clacking
that we loved, we couldn't continue to build further batches," Lendl explained.
"The Zombie resin version was much more consistent in orientation when sitting
in the water, which people preferred. To be honest, when a bait is lacking, even
though it performs perfectly well, we'll stop producing it because we don't want
customers to be disappointed with the bait."
Comparing the Zombie Gerbil with a
newer Gas Rat. Notice the difference in the wider coffin lip design on the Gas
Rat (right) which creates a wider movement during constant retrieves
original Narle Gerbil is undoubtedly a fish catcher, the lack of consistency in
how it sits in the water ultimately made it difficult to continue building the
original. Lendl explained that the reason some of the original Narle Gerbils
lean to one side or the other is because any given section of wood can be more
or less porous, and some sections may even have knots. This will affect a bait
like the Gerbil even more due to its short and stout dimensions.
Like other Illude and Lunker
Fighters rats the Zombie Gerbil comes with rotating hooks and high quality
One thing that
many anglers may not know about the Illude wood baits, like the Rad Rat, is that
Lendl doesn't weigh down the wood with any extra weights to try and balance them
out. Lendl lets the wood naturally react to the environment and how it is
retrieved. This is a mind-blowing fact considering how difficult it is to make a
wood bait sit or react in any consistent way. It also explains why Illude baits
are so hard to produce, and why big bait enthusiasts treasure them.
Another rat-style compact bait is
the wood-based Throwback Bad Bunny
Power: The Zombie Gerbil gets bit and is especially effective when walked.
The large flat joint produces a loud clack, and I found it effective in
low-light situations and deadly when night fishing. It should not be ruled out
for use in bright daylight either; while fish are less likely to eat it in the
middle of the day, I was able to draw a surprising number of strikes during the
afternoon hours on warmer days. Whether fish are looking for an opportunistic
meal or just irritated with the Gerbil, they seem eager to test the bait when
worked over points or alongside structure. I also had success drawing strikes by
varying my retrieve and mixing in pauses.
Though the Zombie is most deadly
in low light it also catches in broad daylight when walked aggressively and is
also very good for calling fishing out from structure like docks because it can
be twitched and walked virtually in place
One of the obvious benefits of the Zombie's resin construction is durability.
The only issue I have experienced is the top of an eye coming off one bait after
catching multiple fish, as well as the typical hook points and wear over time.
Unlike wood baits, hooks will only scratch the surface rather than gouge out the
sides of the wood.
Embracing the Zombie theme this
fun colorway is complete with blood splatter
The clear lip has held up on all my baits, and the 2X
Gamakatsu treble hooks are some of my favorites for swimbaits of this size. The
stainless triple-coil split rings have never failed, and the hand-poured tail is
my favorite soft plastic tail on the market. Many other swimbait builders source
their tails from Illude because they look great, hold up to countless vicious
strikes, float, can be tailored to any size, and are available in a wide range
of opaque and translucent colorways.
The screw in tail in so seamless
on the Zombie. As usual the attention to detail in the Illude Lunker Fighters
baits is excellent
There is no
doubt that the Zombie Gerbil will hold up better over time than the wood-based
Narle Gerbil, and when I compare the overall durability of this bait versus
other custom resin rats, it is right up there among the best of them in terms of
both body and paint durability.
A solid fish on the Zombie Gerbil
at magic hour
Next Section: Durability, Price and a New Acid Rat