September 24, 2015
By Frank Sargent
Photo courtesy of Bullshad.com
There's something that just doesn't compute for me when it comes to tying a $50 bill on the end of my line and throwing it out there for the Fates to intervene. But for a growing number of bass anglers, the opportunity of hooking a lunker largemouth is worth the risk: lures that cost $50 and even more are now available, and a fair number of anglers are catching fish on them.
One of the best is the big "Bull Shad", a hand-carved lure produced by one Mike Bucca in his garage in North Georgia. The lure is pretty much a spitting image of a sizeable gizzard shad, and they do catch really big fish for anglers with the patience to throw them long and hard--they're a favorite in the hard-fished clear water lakes of California, for example, where giant Florida-strain largemouths of 12 pounds and more are common.
At least one local guide has also discovered the magic of the Bull Shad. Captain Mike Carter, who fishes mostly from Goose Pond area up-river at Guntersville, has been putting some very large summertime bass in the boat in the last week on this lure.
Carter says his success on fish to 8 pounds has been primarily on grass edges and flats, not over the main channel where most bass anglers spend most of their time in the heat of summer. He says the first hour of daylight and the last after sundown are prime times, and even at that it takes lots of casting to find a bass big enough to eat the jumbo lure, but production has been impressive considering how difficult it usually is to catch big bass at this time of year. (You can learn more from Carter by visiting www.anglingadventures.info.)
The basic Bull Shad is a 5-incher that sells for $49.95 at Tackle Warehouse and other retailers. It's available in a floater, a slow sinker or a deep diver. Bucca also makes larger--including much larger--models, up to 9 inches long. The big one weighs 5.5 ounces, about as much as a hand-sized bluegill, and it takes a man to throw it more than a few times--to say nothing of some man-sized tackle. The lure has a man-sized price, too, at $89.95!
The lures have four wobbling segments and a swimmer tail, and are so nicely carved that they look like someone has cut a live shad into four pieces and then stitched them back together. Bucca says the appearance, along with the action, does the job on big fish, which are very hard to fool on baits that are less lifelike because they've probably been caught many times over their life span.
Be that as it may, the idea of risking a lure that's going to take a full day's labor at minimum wage to purchase will give many anglers pause. Braided line testing 80 or 100 pounds should give some assurance, but when you hook up with a really big fish, anything can happen--failed knots or a knick in the line might bring on disaster.
The Bull Shad is not the only high-dollar lure on the market these days--many imported from Japan are in this price range, and like Bucca's lure, they offer incredible realism and action, but at a price that will limit purchase only to the most avid anglers.
Some older anglers may remember a few decades back when the first fat lipped crankbait, the "Big O" came out and proved itself incredibly successful--the few who owned these lures sometimes rented them out for a day of tournament fishing. That may be no bad way to go when it comes to the new breed of high-dollar lures, for those unwilling to take the risk of amortizing a $50 lure.