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Lure Review

A Lipless Crank with plenty of Teeth : Lucky Craft's LV-500Max

Date: 5/11/05
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: Lucky Craft USA
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 9.17

Introduction: As one of the most well known and widely distributed Japanese lure manufacturers in the world, Lucky Craft offers a dizzying array of artificial lures. For the avid angler, this can be an exciting opportunity or a paralyzing decision making process. In the coming months, we hope to make that decision making process just a little easier with a series of reviews on the products offered by this very popular manufacturer. First up in our 2005 que is the Lucky Craft LV-500Max, an amazingly effective three-quarter ounce lipless crank.

Lucky Craft LV-500Max Specifications

Type Crankbait
Depth 12-15 ft
Class Sinking
Size 3" (3/4 oz)
Colors/Patterns Approximately 19 different colors
Hook Sizes #4 front, #6 rear
MSRP $15.00

Impressions: Lipless cranks are an interesting anomaly possessing the characteristics of many different lures: the simplicity of a spoon; the action of a crankbait; the fish calling and finding characteristics of a spinnerbait. Hold several in your hands from different manufacturers, and you might be hard pressed to find any differences. So, aside from the incredible finishes on the LV-500Max, what makes this bait so special? Those were among the first thoughts that came to mind when standing at the cash register with several of these baits in hand and a beat-up credit card extended between my fingers.

The Lucky Craft LV-500Max is available in a variety of colors

Field Tests: As is standard with the majority of high priced lures this editor acquires, the first thing I did was to replace the split rings on all of my LV-500Max baits with luresavers. For once, this exchange paid immediate dividends because on my very first cast with this lure, I cranked twice and hit a snag. Pointing the tip of my Kistler He69APC straight at the snag, I locked the spool of my Conquest 51 with my thumb, pulled back, and voila! back came my LV-500Max minus the rear hook and split ring. This happened on several other occasions over the course of several months and while doubts creep into my mind about the likelihood of retrieving my lure during each snag, I've yet to lose an LV-500Max.

Rigged and ready to go our LV-500Max mounted on a He69APc and Shimano Conquest 51

Casting: As with all lipless cranks, the LV-500Max casts like a torpedo cutting through even moderate headwinds with no problems whatsoever. A unique characteristic of this bait is, once it hits the water, it sinks with a distinct nose down position with little side to side or swaying motion common with other lipless cranks. In fact, it sinks so quickly and assertively you can begin your retrieve almost as soon as it lands and cover large expanses of water in a very short period of time.

Closeups of the LV-500Max in Mad Craw (upper left), Nishiki (upper right), MS American Shad (lower left), Mat Tiger (lower right)

Retrieving: The LV-500Max has a very intense, tight vibration as it comes through the water. Lucky Craft employs a mixture of glass and brass beads to produce the sound for this lure that, on quieter days, can be heard off in the distance as you bring your bait through the water. We found it to be a very effective bait at calling and enticing bass to strike whether we were using a high speed retrieve reel like a Daiwa TDZ (23" per turn), medium speed reel like the Chronarch SF (22" per turn), or a more traditional cranking reel like the Shimano Conquest 51 (20.5" per turn).

Lucky Craft employs a mixure of brass and glass rattles to produce sound for the LV-500Max

Application: Lucky Craft Pro Staffer, Nicholas Hinkle tells us he loves to throw his LV-500Max in the early spring when the water reaches about 55 degrees and the fish are staged right off the nearest break close to their spawning areas. He'll use either a constant, high speed retrieve, or rip the bait vertically as he retrieves it back towards the boat. He describes this bait as having a slightly larger profile than others and relies on it often when in search of that kicker fish to round out his limit.


One of the more popular Lucky Craft colors, Aurora Black

We found great success with this lure retrieving it in, along, and through patches of dense weeds during the warmer months of the year. We found it particularly deadly in the fall when the weeds start to die off and patches become sparse. During this time of year, the bass start to gorge in an effort to bulk up before the colder winter months and bass hit the LV-500Max with a fierce vengeance.



A close up of the quality hooks, and signature Lucky Craft split ring (inset) that come standard on the LV-500Max

In fact, early in our field tests with this lure, we were on the California Delta in an area of sparse weed cover. A fish hit my LV-500Max so hard and swam away with such a vengeance, we were certain I had hooked a good sized striper. After several minutes of chasing her with the trolling motor, I was able to bring the fish along side the boat and as she rose slowly from the depths, we peered into the water with much anticipation. As her silhouette came into focus, we saw the telltale markings of a seven to eight pound largemouth bass! JIP and I called out our discovery in unison, "BASS"! A cry that woke the bass out of her daze and inspired one more dive where the LV-500Max pulled free from her mouth. After that, JIP cut off the lure he was testing and tied on an LV-500Max to help accelerate our evaluation.

Lucky Craft's very realistic LV-500Max

Through about half a year of consistent use, our Lucky Craft LV-500Max lures have held up surprisingly well. The bright metallic finishes, like in their Aurora colors and the MS American Shad, we found more prone to chipping when thrown up against rocks and stumps than are their more mat like finishes (mad craw & mat tiger). However, the mat finishes are more easily scuffed after a hard strike from a fish so take your pick. None of the wear we experienced was out of the ordinary considering the amount we banged our test baits around. Our stock hooks held up fine except when lost to the occasional underwater snag.


A closeup of the diving surface on the LV-500Max

Features: One of our favorite features of Lucky Craft baits is their use of oval split rings at the point of connection to your line. These oval rings practically guarantee your knot will not cinch up at the potentially hazardous split ends of the ring. Additionally, the LV-500 Max has some incredible detailing around the head of the lure including very realistic gill and jawlines and lifelike eyes. The diving surface of this lure, located at the top of the head, has a very subtle concave curvature, unlike the usual flat diving surface of other lipless cranks. This subtle shaping might be what gives the lure its unique diving posture and trajectory and no doubt influences the way in which the lure vibrates through the water. It's refreshing to see this amount of detail and subtle design tweaks in a lure but these types of innovations are what Lucky Craft lures have been all about.


An aggressive 3lb largemouth that fell victim to our LV-500Max


Lucky Craft LV-500Max Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality We found nothing lacking in our LV500's 10
Performance All our baits cast superbly and ran true out of the box 9
Price On the low end of import lures, but definitely on the high end of domestic products 8
Features The oval split rings make a difference 9
Design Attention to detail at every angle - typical of these import lures but amazing nonetheless 10
Application A very effective search bait. Power fishers rejoice! 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Wonderful array of finishes L Somewhat expensive
J Very well detailed lure L You can't have just one
J Unique diving action on free fall  
J Good, sharp stock hooks  
J A real confidence inspiring bait
J Oval split rings at the point of connection to your line

Conclusion: Our original test batch of these lipless cranks consisted of three baits. I now, personally, have over a dozen of these pricey cranks in my box and have given away several more to friends and relatives looking to find their way in this addictive sport of bass fishing. In fact, there are times I have to fight myself NOT to tie one on because I need to give the lure I'm using more time. If you're looking to add a bait to your arsenal that has a good chance of raising your confidence index, you could do worse than Lucky Craft's LV-500Max. Tie one on, chuck it out as far as you can, start winding, and hold on to your gear because bass love to slam this lure. Until next time, keep collecting!









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