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Lure Review

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Black Dog Bait Company's Lunker Punker

Date: 9/23/07
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: Black Dog Bait Company
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.71


Introduction: From our July 25th Clear Lake with Gary Dobyns Article by Zander:"Gary looked back and said 'I’d be surprised if you get them to come all the way up right now.' Cal ignored him and began casting towards the edge of an island, reeling back his full-size surface swimbait. After a few casts Gary turned back again and said 'better get back to that jig Cal….' when suddenly, right in the middle of his sentence a massive blowup on the lure took place, 'get him!' Gary yelled. Cal did get him and Gary and I both stood jaws wide open as we gawked at the nearly 9lb bug eyed bucketmouth Cal had just caught. 'Talk about getting lucky,' Gary said. Within minutes Cal caught another fish, this one six pounds, on the very same lure he was testing, at which point Gary was officially sold."


The mystery bait revealed, Black Dog Bait Company's Lunker Punker


"Gary spent the rest of the day casting that lure with his frog rod, and he boated some more nice fish. Nothing as good as the first one Cal landed, but plenty to have him asking where to get more. 'Do me a favor and don’t write about that lure just yet,' Gary laughingly said 'let me win some money with it first!'"


Black Dog Bait Company Lunker Punker Specifications

Type Swimbait
Depth Surface
Class Floater
Size (Weight) 9" (3.75 oz) : 6" (3.0 oz)
Colors/Patterns Rainbow Trout (many other colors still in the works)
MSRP 9" - $59.99 : 6" - $49.99

Sorry Gary, but time is up. Since the debut of the article referenced above, we've received countless inquiries as to the mystery bait I was throwing and it's time we let the bait out of the box. Black Dog Bait Company's Lunker Punker is a large, awkwardly shaped, and quite frankly, unimpressive looking bait. In an era of life-size, ultra-realistic baits, the Lunker Punker, and it's smaller sibling, the Lunker Punker Jr., harken back a decade or two to a time where form followed function. The appearance of the Lunker Punker is surprising from the simple perspective that the company's debut bait, the ShellCracker, is highly detailed.


Presenting Black Dog Bait Company's Lunker Punker (bottom) and Lunker Punker Jr. (top)

But as we know all too well, appearances can be deceiving. The Lunker Punker is an original wood bait designed by Jeremy Andersen who together with Grant Olguin founded Black Dog Bait Company early in 2005. Jeremy and Grant, along with a very close network of their friends, have actually been fishing this bait for several years. It was with a little reluctance they decided to put this bait into mass production but they have and the response here on the West Coast has been overwhelming. So much so that to keep up with demand, the bait is now made overseas in the same factory as their Shellcracker bait.

The Lunker Punker (top) is a nine inch bait, while the Lunker Punker Jr. (bottom) is a six inch bait

The Field Tests:
That day on Clear Lake, California, we were throwing the Lunker Punker on a Dobyns Rods frog stick and though we were having obvious success with the combo, that would not be my first choice in rods with which to toss the Lunker Punker. The tip on that rod is a little too stiff. I like this bait best on a long rod with a relatively soft tip but of course with enough backbone to drive the hooks home.


Test Rig for Black Dog Bait Company Lunker Punker Field Tests

Rod Evergreen Amazon Flip Balista
Reel Shimano Calais DC7 w/ 90mm Bassart Carbon Handle
Line 65lb Suffix Performance Braid


Remember my efforts to procure a special rod with which to fish the 3:16 Wake Jr.? Well, the baits from Black Dog Bait Company inspired a similar shopping spree and I decided on TWO Evergreen International TMJC-74XXX Balista rods - one for the Lunker Punker, and the other for the ShellCracker. Each is outfitted with a matching Shimano Calais DC7 with an upgraded 90mm Bassart carbon fiber handle. Topwater swimbait madness deserves no boundaries!


The Lunker Punker did not swim as easily with Fluorocarbon line

Rigged and ready to go on an Evergreen International TMJC-74XX Balista


Casting: No fancy tails, jointed bodies, moving weight balancer systems or other extraneous features to get in the way of casting. Just rear back and let'er rip and make sure you keep your thumb on that spool! The Lunker Punker flat out flies through the air on each and every cast and is a fantastic bait to get out past your target so you can make a tantalizing retrieve over or past an area you think is holding fish. They do not come any easier to cast than this bait - just make sure you have plenty of line on your reel!

Casting away at the docks

Tie direct or use a big snap connector - either way, the action on the Lunker Punker is not affected

Retrieving: Think giant cigar bait. The Lunker Punker has a very classic, walk-the-dog action - or rather, walk-the-BIG-dog action. By that I mean on your first tug with the rod tip, the Punker will glide a good foot or two to one side. With another tug, it moves off a similar distance to the other side. It creates a pretty large wake in the process.

It takes a stout rod with a soft tip to get this bait swimming right

Check out the turbulence behind the bait

It's a good idea, when you're starting out, to let the bait glide to a full stop before making your follow up tug. It doesn't take much to get the bait moving, but if you pull too hard, the Punker won't swim off to the side, instead it will come right back to you. This is where a rod with a relatively soft tip will help.


Each Lunker Punker comes with a rear treble hook dressed with feathers

The Punker can also be fished on a faster cadence with shorter, abbreviated tugs. I found this to be quite effective when getting followers. In this situation, don't give them time to think and gawk, just get the bait moving past them and the bass cannot stand it! More on this later.

An abrupt but effective end caps off the unimpressive detailing of this bait

Lastly, don't be afraid to dead stick it either. Just cast it out, let it sit for a while before beginning your retrieve, but pay close attention to your bait! The blow up Zander described at Clear Lake happened just after a cast as I was waiting for the water to calm after the Punker splashed down. I didn't even get a chance to take up the slack before that bug-eyed bucketmouth simply annihilated my bait. 

Black Dog Baits familiar logo

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