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Swimbait Review


Fold to Cast Further – Shimano’s Armajoint Hard Bodied Swimbait


Date: 3/17/23
Tackle type: Lure - Swimbait
Manufacturer: Shimano
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.41 - INNOVATION AWARD

Introduction: The swimbait segment continues to grow, and it was just a matter of time before Shimano launched their own hard bodied swimbait. Rather than introduce just another single jointed glide or dual jointed wake, Shimano’s lure engineers wanted to put their own spin on a shad-like profile and create a bait that could be cast further and fished effectively by anglers of all skill levels. Meet the Armajoint 190SF, a swimbait loaded with unique features including a joint design that enables the bait to fold each time it is launched.


Shimano Armajoint Swimbait Specifications

Type Swimbait
Class Slow-Sinking
Depth 0-1 feet
Length 7.5 inches
Weight 1 7/8 ounces
Material Injected Plastic
Sections Three (Two Joints)
Patterns 5
MSRP $42.99


Shimano is entering the had bodied swimbait fray with the Armajoint (N Hasu pattern shown)

Impressions: When evaluated alongside most custom hard-bodied glides the Armajoint is more compact and lighter than the average swimbait. The Armajoint is available is only one size, a 7 ½” length which weighs 1 7/8oz. and because it has no lip and is designed to be a slow floating bait it only dives down to 1 foot when retrieved.


A look at the Armajoint retail packaging

The Armajoint features a slender profile with two joints and three sections. The bait features a very realistic looking head and the bait glimmers thanks to the SCALE BOOST feature which makes use of embedded holograms to mimic baitfish scales. These holograms are described as being “composite-pitch” versus “single-pitch” so that the amount and complexity of light reflected through the water is greater. The visual result in bright light and in clear water is impressive, and because the Armajoint is larger and fished closer to the surface than previous FLASH BOOST equipped lures the pulse effective is much easier to observe.


The Armajoint features internal weighting and the cast control system in not a traditional weight shift type mechanism but rather an innovative collapsible magnet supported hinge design

The Armajoint can effectively mimic a trout or shad, and the overall shape and profile reminds me somewhat of a DRT TK equipped with a V-Tail. The biggest difference is that the Armajoint features two joints and the ARMA BOOST main joint is quite unlike anything we have seen before.


Each bait comes with two v-tails that are locked in place with a pin. These tails are durable but feature plastic that will react with other baits so keeping them separated from other lures is necessary

Real World Tests: I’ve been fishing the Shimano Armajoint since right before ICAST last year with most of my time spent targeting largemouth and spotted bass in the California Delta and surrounding region. I fished the Armajoint with several different setups including tied on directly straight to braid, fluorocarbon main line, and using a braid to fluorocarbon leader.


A look at the top of the Armajoint shows the unique tapering at the joint to provide greater movement

Castability: The most interesting feature of the Armajoint is the unique joint design which Shimano calls ARMA BOOST. The ARMA BOOST joint is an articulating joint that enables the joint to disconnect from an internal magnet during the cast which allows the bait to collapse 45 degrees. This enables the lure to basically fold up into a smaller profile to improve aerodynamics and reduce tumbling as the bait sails through the air. Simply put, the system works as advertised.


Ready to cast. At rest the Armajoint straightens out and looks like trout or shad profiled swimbait

I found the Armajoint to be very easy to cast both far and accurately, and the folding joint design enabled improved casting distance and control in all wind conditions. We measured roughly 25% increase in distance in low wind conditions and up to 30% increases over similarly weighted and sized baits in more adverse conditions. Basically, the ARAMJOINT casts well in normal situations and the ARMA BOOST feature really aids in casting in conditions that typically would have a very adverse effect on traditional swimbaits of this weight class, like casting into a crosswind. This was most noticeable when comparing the bait with other injected lures, like the Gantarel for example, which is prone to rotation during casts. When casting custom resin swimbaits that weigh 4oz. or greater casting usually isn’t an issue as there is so much more mass to work with.


The articulation on the ARMA BOOST joint is quite unlike any other bait

That extra casting distance makes the Armajoint great search bait option as it can cover a lot of water. The nice thing about this feature is that it is automatic and takes no additional effort or thought from the angler. Simply cast like you would normally and the ARMA BOOST activates and once the bait hits the water the lure’s body reengages with the magnet straightening out the bait as anglers begin the retrieve.


The bait not only swings down it slides outwards to enable greater fold during casts

Ease of Actuation: The Armajoint can be retrieved a variety of different ways and when cranked it will naturally swim in an S-Pattern with that rear tail section moving just a little bit to accentuate each kick. When retrieved in this way the Armajoint behaves more like a single jointed traditional glide in total motion, but that subtle trailing tail action really gives the lure a lifelike swimming motion.

Crank and stop the bait or work in some rod twitches and the Armajoint really comes to life. The bait will turn and flash, even at rest, with the FLASH BOOST feature. This feature consists of an internal foil panel that is suspended on micro springs within the main body section of the bait that creates a lively pulse action designed to mimic the movement and flash of an injured baitfish.


The third section doesn't have a lot of movement and is designed to exhibit a subtle trailing action versus a very active side to side motion

When it comes to swimbaits, I generally feel that swimming action beats patterns in just about every situation. I am more confident fishing a bait that I know fish will react to the swimming action, vibration, and sound, versus having a pattern that absolutely matches the hatch. Ever notice how some swimbaits are more “fishier” than others and when the swim is mint is still deadly effective long after the paint finish has scratched or chipped away?


A look at the SCALE BOOST reflection in bright light. A whole lot of shimmer on this bait

The FLASH BOOST feature is an interesting one that is designed to maximize the benefits of an injected swimbait design. Like in Shimano’s other FLASH BOOST enabled baits it is difficult to quantify just how much difference this feature makes in terms of garnering attention from fish, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and it does give the bait a unique and more dynamic look versus the competition.


The tail slides in and is held with a pin for security

I found that this feature inspired confidence when fishing slowly and I found myself employing the Armajoint as a twitch bait more than I normally would when fishing a bait this size. The ability to work the lure slowly allows you to get creative with working the Armajoint at various speeds near the surface. There were a few times I was just playing with the bait when fish would breach on it out of nowhere.

The Armajoint delivers lifelike s-glide action, decent twitch behavior, and excellent burn characteristics, as the bait will not wash out when cranked at full speed.


An added benefit of the ARMA BOOST design is the bait collapses in fish's mouths or will flex during the battle to help keep fish pinned

Next Section: Maximizing each and every cast









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