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Product Reviews: Lucky Craft

By Russ Bassdozer

It's fair to say Lucky Craft manufactures some of the best hard plastic baits in the world. Lucky Craft manufactures their baits in a small town near a pure flowing river in Japan. Their is a big emphasis on lure research and development and among members of the Lucky Craft company, they feel a big responsibility to produce lures worthy of both the angler and the fish of which he dreams. Here are some tips on how to fish these Lucky Craft dreams.

Lucky Craft began to appear on the North American market about five or six years ago. The baker's dozen listed below are the first Lucky Craft lures that were available in the States. These originals still rank among Lucky Craft's most reliable fish-catchers:

  • Sammy 85, 100, and 115 topwater walking baits

  • G-Splash 65 topwater popper

  • Pointer 78 and 100 suspending jerkbaits

  • Bevy Shad 75 a wider-bodied, deeper suspending jerkbait

  • StaySee 90, a longer-lipped, even deeper suspending jerkbait

  • Flash Minnow 110 a short-lipped shallow suspending jerkbait

  • CB200 and CB350 Moonsault suspending diving crankbaits

  • LV100 and LV500 lipless rattling crankbaits

If you had to limit your Lucky Craft selection to a core set of lures to work with, you really can't go wrong by sticking with the originals listed above.

However, Lucky Craft hardly stopped there. In the past five years, Lucky Craft has rolled out additional topwaters, jerkbaits and crankbaits for North American freshwater bass fishing.

Today there are 70 models of injection-molded hard plastic baits that Lucky Craft offers you.

What's a fellow to do? How's someone to know which one to use when? With the premium price commanded by Lucky Craft baits, how can the average guy afford to try all these great baits? Will his wife let him? Will the kids still be able to go to college?

Without further ado, here is the biggest helping of useful how-to info in print on Lucky Craft lures in North America. It doesn't cover all 70 models, but it does cover over 35 of the best Lucky Crafts available (plus a few discontinued models you really should try to get your hands on). Please enjoy!

Color Considerations:
These are the staple Lucky Craft colors I rely on day in and day out. You can get these four colors in practically all Lucky Craft hardbait models:

  1. Chartreuse Shad (#250). If I had to pick only one Lucky Craft color to use, it would be this. An opaque (solid) color with smoky blue/gray back, smoky pearl belly, and pale chartreuse lateral line. It is a great all-around producer under a wide variety of water color and conditions.
  2. Pearl Ayu (#268). Another productive opaque color that works under most conditions. A watermelon green back with shiny pearl sides that emit a bright white flash.
  3. Ghost Minnow (#238). Greenish translucent see-through color that is ideal for clear or stained water. Has pale blue and pink translucence on sides and pale white underbelly.
  4. Ghost Blue Shad (#237). Another productive transparent color, with a faint blue back similar to shad at times.

A high degree of my confidence and catches also come on these two color patterns. However, they are only available in a few limited Lucky Craft models:

  1. Misty Shad (#284), an opaque color
  2. Opaque Golden Shiner (#239) plus transparent Aurora Ghost Golden Shiner (#057)

The colors listed above account for many of my Lucky Craft catches.

Lucky Craft Sammy 115 and Sammy 100 Topwalkers
Sammy 115. 4-1/2". 5/8 oz. Sammy 100. 4". 1/2 oz.

The Sammy 115 (bottom in photo) is my favorite size. It casts extremely well. When replaced with #2 hooks, the Sammy 115 becomes very special to fish in deeper calm water using a slow, gentle walk-the-dog action that makes the nose barely twitch without splashing.

I downsize to the Sammy 100 (top in photo) in shallower water, or whenever the fish show no interest in the 115, that's when I'll go to the Sammy 100. I give you more precise info on how I use these two in an article, Sammy - The Walking Fish.

There are two smaller (65 and 85) and one larger (128) version of Sammy also. Many anglers experience great success with these smaller and larger Sammy sizes as well.

Lucky Craft Gunfish 95 Topwalker
Gunfish 95. 4". 3/8 oz.

The Gunfish is unique in shape and different in action than other topwalkers like the Sammy. The Gunfish has a more spitty, slashy, frantic action. It skates its body side to side rather than roll or waddle like other topwalkers. Many anglers tend to work the Gunfish faster and more frantically than they would a Sammy.

The Gunfish 95 was the first model available. The larger Gunfish 115 (5/8 oz) was introduced later, but quickly became favored by many anglers, due to the 115's larger size. In fact, if you are after big bass or just need a solitary kicker, the Gunfish 115, the Sammy 128 and Sammy 115 are the three "large" Lucky Craft topwaters to use to tempt above-average bass.

Lucky Craft G-Splash 65 Popper
G-Splash 95. 2 1/2". 1/4 oz.

The G-Splash is G-ood! In calm flat water, the G-Splash throws a big splash ahead of itself, sounding the dinner bell for active, aggressive fish to come running long distances out of cover or up from the depths to greedily smack at the G-Splash. In choppy water, part of the big splash made by the G-Splash pushes underneath the choppy surface, creating wavy rings like a boil circling around the G-Splash. It's a real attention-getter.

Using a very fast, choppy rod tip movement of only a few inches, the G-Splash will walk side-to-side across the surface more like a Sammy or Spook style of action. You've got to get the tip vibrating back and forth very quickly to do this. It's a little tiring to do this all day, but I like the action it produces - and apparently so do a lot of fish I have caught with this tactic! I give you more precise info on how I use it in an article, G-Splash - The Newest Pop on Top.

The G-Splash is designed differently than most other poppers. The most obvious difference is that it has a square bottom as opposed to smooth round body, the surface area inside the concavity is greater and deeper on the G-Splash, and the ridge where the concavity meets the body is raised so the "lip" protrudes. Interesting departures from the norm.

There is also a relatively newer, larger version. The G-Splash 80 is 3" and 3/8 oz. This is a trend in bass fishing today towards larger poppers, and they do tend to result in larger bass.

Lucky Craft Splash-Tail 90 Propbait
Splash-Tail. 3-5/8". 1/2 oz.

This propbait has precision-made fore and aft propellers, each affixed to a metal sleeve that helps the prop turn more easily and precisely. Most other propbaits do not have such a sleeve. Mostly you see just loose prop.

Propbaits are relatively unused, bass don't get to see them much. That's why I use them a lot. You can go down a hard-hit bank or through a community hole where bass have wizened up to being pelted by more popular lures. Tie something on they've not yet seen. On some days it seems almost every jaded bass there will take a swipe at a novel lure type like a propbait that they have not seen yet.

Lucky Craft Jerkbaits
Don't see a jerkbait you like in the photo at right? Don't worry. Lucky Craft offers sixteen more jerkbait models in addition to the eight shown at right.

These are the eight, however, that I use most often. From top down:

  1. Pointer 100DD
  2. Pointer 100
  3. Staysee 90
  4. Slender Pointer 97
  5. Flash Minnow 95
  6. Bevy Shad 75
  7. Pointer 78DD
  8. Pointer 78

For more info on how to use jerkbaits in general, and Lucky Craft's Pointer, Bevy Shad and Staysee in particular, check out my article, Jerkbaits for Late Fall Flats. Also check the interview I did on Ripbaits as Taught by Gary Dobyns, who's also know as Mister Rippin'. And when you're done with those articles, don't forget to get A Little Extra Jerkbait Gravy.

Lucky Craft Pointer 78 Jerkbait
Pointer 78. 3" (excluding lip). 3/8 oz.

You probably don't need me to tell you about the Pointer 78. Of all Lucky Craft lures, the Pointer 78 and the Sammy topwater series are most famous. More has been written about the Pointer and Sammy than all other Lucky Crafts combined.

I must say this, of all Lucky Craft lures I have fished, the Pointer 78 has the most life-like action. Something in the design of the Pointer 78 gives it an occasional irregular action which is very special because it approximates the mindless dalliance of a real bait better than the mechanical metronome of most other baits.

Truly a treasure, the Pointer 78 is absolutely perfect for subsurface twitching, jerking or ripping tactics all season long! It works from subsurface down a few feet.

Lucky Craft Pointer 78DD Jerkbait
Pointer 78DD. 3" (excluding lip). 1/3 oz.

Nearly as good as the original Pointer 78 - and deadly, deadly, deadly in the slightly deeper 4 to 7 foot range that the Pointer 78DD is designed to plumb.

Lucky Craft Bevy Shad 75 Jerkbait
Bevy Shad. 3" (excluding lip). 3/8 oz.

As famous as the Pointer has become, you hardly hear a peep about the Bevy Shad. Despite its anonymity, it is a great fish-catcher.

The Bevy Shad has a more crankbait-shaped bill and a more crankbait-shaped body than most other slim minnow jerkbaits. Is the Bevy Shad a jerkbait? A crankbait? Two baits in one? Does how a lure looks define it, or does the suspension system inside it define it? Or does how you fish it (crank it or jerk it) make something a crankbait or a jerkbait? Disturbing as such questions may be, should we really care? Bottom line, the Bevy Shad is a great fish-catcher, but little has ever been communicated about it, and relatively few people fish it because they never heard of it. Everyone has heard of the Pointer. Far fewer have ever heard a word about the Bevy Shad.

The Bevy Shad has a fast, tight wriggle like a swimming shad. It darts widely like a disoriented shad when paused and twitched. It works deeper than most other jerkbaits. It's effective working depth is about 8 feet down on 10 lb. line. When it comes to 8 feet deep, there are hardly any jerkbaits that get down there.

The Bevy Shad is internally balanced to swim with a nose-down angle until it reaches its maximum depth where it will level off and swim on a horizontal plane. Its nose-down nature and arrow-shaped bill is good for bouncing the hooks away to deter snags in cover or on bottom...then suspend and twitch it after it bounces off bottom or cover.  When suspended, it dips its nose down into a feeding posture which often infuriates following bass to strike. In shallower water, the Bevy Shad sinks slowly as opposed to suspending as in deeper depths. This nose-down dip and settling towards bottom in a feeding posture is awesome over shallow spring spawning sites.

The Golden Shiner color (top in photo) has always been a favorite and most productive Lucky Craft hue for me. Unfortunately, Golden Shiner is not an option in many Lucky Craft models. Good news is the Bevy Shad is one of the few that comes in Golden Shiner. This is the Bevy Shad color I use ninety percent of the time.

I often fish the Bevy Shads with feather tails. I have experienced high catch rates using feathers on Bevy Shads. I switch out the belly hook for the same size Gamakatsu EWG. I switch out the tail for one size smaller Owner feather treble. I'm normally not one to downsize hooks, but the extra water drag of the feathers requires it in this case. Neither am I one to indiscriminately hang feather tails on all my hardbaits. In the Bevy Shad's case, however, this feather tail seems to enhance the lifelike allure of the Bevy Shad. Add a long thin feather tail and watch as the feathers makes the Bevy Shad come alive! It's been bevy, bevy good to me!

Lucky Craft Staysee 90 Jerkbait
StaySee 90. 3-1/2" (excluding lip). 1/3 oz.

Of all Lucky Craft lures I have used, the StaySee 90 has one of the most life-like actions. When the jerkbait bite is on, I am basically going to cover the water column by using the Pointer 78 for subsurface action down to a few feet deep, the Bevy Shad 75 or the Pointer 78DD to get down to about the six foot range, and the StaySee 90 to dredge even deeper. Where bigger bass abound, I may go to bigger jerkbaits, but on most waters with average size bass, the Pointer 78, Pointer 78DD, Bevy Shad 75, and StaySee 90 progressively cover the water column for me from a few feet to about ten feet down.

Adding the next size bigger trebles to this lure beefs the StaySee up tremendously. A great, great jerkbait that has not gotten the recognition it deserves.

Lucky Craft Pointer 100 Jerkbait
Pointer 100. Suspending. 4" (excluding lip). 5/8 oz.

Compared to the Pointer 78, the Pointer 100 is a bigger, bulkier suspending jerkbait. I tend to use it on a heavier rod and at least 12 lb test, for targeting better than average bass - or for snubbing up on and controlling fish close to bad cover. The heavier gear lets me wrestle a stuck lure or a wild hog away from snags. I can pull just a little harder with the Pointer 100. It's a solidly-built jerkbait. I estimate the Pointer 100 runs 4 to 5 feet casting on 12 lb line.

It is suspending, meaning it attains a neutral buoyancy at a specific atmospheric pressure and water temperature. But when not near those precise conditions, a suspending jerkbait rises or sinks slowly due to higher or lower pressure and/or temps than its neutral equilibrium point.

This color shown here, Misty Shad is only made in a few Lucky Craft models. However, it is one of my favorite Lucky Craft colors.

Lucky Craft Pointer 100DD Jerkbait
Pointer 100DD. 4" (excluding lip). 5/8 oz.

Compared to say the Pointer 78DD or Staysee 90, the Pointer 100DD is a bigger, bulkier suspending jerkbait. I tend to use it on a heavier rod and at least 12 lb test, for targeting better than average bass - or for snubbing up on and controlling fish close to bad cover. The heavier gear lets me wrestle either a stuck lure or a wild hog away from snags. I can pull just a little harder with the Pointer 100 DD. It's a solidly-built jerkbait.

It is suspending, meaning it attains a neutral buoyancy at a specific atmospheric pressure and water temperature. But when not near those precise conditions, a suspending jerkbait rises or sinks slowly due to higher or lower pressure and/or temps than its neutral equilibrium point.

I estimate the Pointer 100 DD runs 5 to 7 feet casting on 12 lb line. It can get down eight feet by burning it back in at a blurring speed. Burning the Pointer 100 DD works best when you jerk and give slack to let it stand still every twenty feet during the retrieve, which is when most strikes occur. Fish will race along behind it while you burn it as fast as you can for twenty feet, and tend to react by striking when it darts and suddenly stands still.

Lucky Craft Flash Minnow TR95 Jerkbait
Flash Minnow TR95. 3-3/4" (excluding lip). 5/16 oz. Lucky Craft USA has discontinued this lure.

This is a light jerkbait. If you need something sweet for 6-8 lb test, it's ideal for that. It's a shallow runner and doesn't swim more than a few feet below the surface.

As shown in the photo, there's much similarity between the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow TR95 (top) versus Daiwa's TD Minnow (bottom).

Originally, before Lucky Craft began to pursue a market share in North America, Daiwa's TD Minnow had already established itself as a reputable high-end jerkbait - and still to this day, the TD Minnow remains famed for good catches. Although Lucky Craft's Flash Minnow TR95 compares favorably, it is being discontinued in North America. Despite that, the Lucky Craft TR95 is a good fish-catcher. Particularly on light tackle, it casts well and fishes superbly. If you've ever done well with the Daiwa TD Minnow, I'd suggest the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow TR95 is another worthy one you may want to try. Before it disappears forever, now may be the time to add this fine light line jerkbait to your tackle box.

Lucky Craft Flash Minnow 95MR Jerkbait
Flash Minnow 95MR. 3-3/4" (excluding lip). 3/8 oz.

The Flash Minnow 95MR is solidly built. It is a smallish lure but has the bigger hooks and chutzpah to handle decent fish.

This bait casts like a rifle shot due to some heavy ballast in the back of its tail. Not only does this tail weight give it casting distance, it gives it an up and down seesaw effect. When you twitch or reel it, the diving lip forces the nose down. When you pause it, the rear weight forces the tail down. This creates a seesaw effect from front to back as well as the typical side to side zigzag jerkbaits are known for. One way to describe the Flash Minnow 95MR, is that it has a looser, wider, slower action than other jerkbaits.

Lucky Craft Slender Pointer 97MR Jerkbait
Slender Pointer 97MR. 4" (excluding lip). 3/8 oz.

In comparison to the loose, wide, slow motion of the Flash Minnow 95MR, the Slender Pointer 97MR has a tight, sharp wiggle. In fact, the pronounced tight wiggle (and flash off its sides when it wiggles) is one way to describe the main properties of this bait.

Lucky Craft Slender Pointer 127MR Jerkbait
Slender Pointer 127MR. 5" (excluding lip). 3/4 oz. 

If you are fortunate to fish a section of the country blessed with big fish, you may want to weigh your Lucky Craft jerkbait selection toward anything numbered 100 and higher. The Slender Pointer 127 (3/4 oz), Pointer 128 (1 oz) and Flash Minnow 130 (3/4 oz) are the biggest jerkbaits made by Lucky Craft. Mix in a Pointer 100, Pointer 100DD and Flash Minnow 110 (all 5/8 oz) and you have six big jerkbaits to target giant bass. These jerkbaits are bigger, brawnier - and better - when you need a kicker.

Lucky Craft Wander 80 and Wander 95 Stickbaits
Wander 80. 3-3/8". 1/2 oz. Wander 95. 4" 3/4 oz.

The Wander is unique among hard plastic baits. It is in a class by itself called a stickbait. Offhand, I can't think of another hard plastic stickbait out there although several soft plastic stickbaits come to mind - the Zoom Fluke, Bass Assassin and Gary Yamamoto's Senko. The Wander does what these softies do - except the Wander doesn't tear apart and of course, has trebles.

Cast the Wander out, and simply retrieve it slowly on a semi-tight line. True to its name, the Wander will amble and wander back, dallying from side to side instead of a straight line. The first cast I ever made with one, watching it wander back in, a big bass whacked it! Throw in a little rod twitch, jerk it or rip it, and watch the Wander do essentially the same as you'd expect from a Fluke, Bass Assassin or other soft stickbait. Yes you can walk the dog underwater with it if you set up a cadence to do that; or just twitch and jerk it irregularly and let it pause to sink helplessly between jerks. That's usually how to work soft stickbaits - with irregular pops and pauses, which works great with the Wander also.

When you pause the retrieve, just like the venerable Yamamoto Senko, the Wander will sink slowly, rocking, shifting, shimmying its body as it falls perfectly horizontally.

There's one other tactic that's deadliest with the larger Wander 95 model. Keep it skipping and scooting right on the surface in a frantic topwater presentation. The speed and splashiness of the presentation gets fish to react instinctively. This is about the fastest, purest form of reaction bait fishing you can ever hope to try.

Have I enticed you to try the Wander yet? Well you better find out where you can buy a few before Lucky Craft discontinues it. I'm not exactly sure of the Wander's current status, but it did appear on Lucky Craft's discontinued list in 2004. It just goes to show, great baits don't always make it, especially when little effort is made to familiarize anglers with them. I can't recall ever seeing any mention of the Wander anywhere except here at

If you do get a few, don't be bashful to big up the hooks until they look right to you. Like many Lucky Craft models, the hooks tend to be at least one size too small for some people.

Lucky Craft Crankbaits
Lucky Craft offers no less than 26 lipped cranks to North American anglers.

The two I use most often are the CB350 (top in photo) and Flat CB DR (bottom). Both these baits will get into the 8-10 foot range. Most guys I see never or rarely use such deep divers.  One of the most productive places for these deep divers are the tire reefs, other barrier reefs, and floating breakwaters anchored around the perimeters of boat marinas to break the force of wind-driven waves. These man-made reefs and barriers make a safe harbor within the marinas, and they are also bass magnets at times. These types of floating bass cover tend to be out in open water, with little shade. In clear water, bass tend to suspend deeper under the floating breakwaters where depth equates to shade. These suspended bass are deeper than the average crankbait can reach them, but not so deep that a crankbait swimming in the 8-10 foot range can't entice them.

But deep diving crankbaits can be used in shallow water too. Many times I am bouncing, digging and rooting along the bottom in water as shallow as a few feet, even with these 8-10 foot divers. In fact, it is commonplace around ledges, bars and depth breaks to not get many hits while the crank is in deeper open water. Strikes rarely come until the deep diver gets up on the nearby shallow bar or ledge and starts stuttering across the gravel or digging in the sand. At that point, bass will materialize out of deep water, swimming onto the bar or ledge to pluck the bottom-gouging crankbait off the shallow bottom, often only a few feet deep.

Lucky Craft Moonsault CB350 Crankbait
CB350. Suspending. 2-1/2" (excluding lip). 1/2 oz.

The CB350 combines all the best features of fat-bodied crankbaits, rattling vibration baits, and suspending jerkbaits into one lure. It has the long bill, fat body, and deep-diving qualities of a crankbait. Inside, it has seven rattling chambers and  a center wall that reverberates its rattles loudly! Plus it's got a better internal suspension system than most jerkbaits. Weights shift position so it casts far and dives quickly, seeking bottom like most crankbaits.

It's best when it gets to bottom about 8 to 10 feet down. Once there, it fishes most effectively when you use it as a bottom-suspending jerkbait. It suspends and rises lazily when you pause the retrieve. Pause to let it rise a little, then sweep and twitch or jerk it to activate the rattles and cause erratic quick-wiggling motion until it digs or bounces bottom again. Then pause and hold on! You don't necessarily need to hit bottom again - although that's always a helpful strike-triggering option. Just sweep and twitch it like a dying shad and reel slowly. The CB350 has a fast but tight wiggle even at a slow pace retrieve. The supple swimming movement can be enhanced by adding a long, thin feather tail.

Lucky Craft Classical Leader 55SR and 55DR Crankbaits
Floating. 2-1/4" (excluding lip). Weight: 1/3 oz.

Over five years ago, I had been given several Classical Leaders by Lucky Craft employees visiting the USA from Japan. In comparison to other high-tech, highly-detailed and glamorous Lucky Craft lures, the Classical Leader has a much more simple construction and plebian appearance. But its ordinary looks are deceptive. Testing immediately revealed that the Classical Leader has one of the best and most natural swimming motions of all Lucky Craft lures.

One of the principals of Lucky Craft confirmed what I felt. He confided in me that the Classical Leader was his personal favorite fish-catcher among all Lucky Craft lures - but that it was built and looked way too ordinary. Nevertheless, I have caught countless bass on the Classical Leader. It's truly a great bait. One of the best made by Lucky Craft - and also the most ordinary lure they offer.

The DR (Deep Runner) maxes out around 6-7 feet with 10 lb. test line. The SR (Shallow Runner)

It's common for many Japanese brand hardbaits to come with hooks smaller than customary to North American anglers. We tend to use heavier tackle and prefer larger hooks than our Japanese counterparts. Some of the newer hardbait models that Lucky Craft has developed just the last few years for the North American market, the hooks tend to be sized properly. Yet on the legacy lures originally developed for the Japanese market (like the Classical Leader), the factory hooks routinely need to be upsized by a North American angler.

I routinely replace both trebles on the Classical Leader with #6 EWG trebles

Even with the many great new models of lures introduced by Lucky Craft over the past five years, the old-fashioned Classical Leader remains one of the most productive of all Lucky Craft baits for me. Unfortunately there are only a few meager color choices offered in the USA so far.

The Classical Leader swims like a charm and catches bass like a champ. Fish just don't seem to notice it's not high-tech, highly-detailed nor hardly as glamorous as other Lucky Crafts.

Lucky Craft Bevy Crank 45SR and 45DR Crankbaits
Bevy Crank. Floating. 1-3/4" (excluding lip). 3/16 oz.

Japan's anglers tend to use lighter tackle and smaller lures than their North American counterparts. The compact Bevy Crank series by Lucky Craft has been painstakingly designed and tested to excel in the demanding light tackle market of Japan.

The Bevy Crank has a weight-shifting system that gives this lure great action and surprising casting distance on 4 to 8 lb. test spinning gear.

Not only ideal for small stream and pond bass, the Bevy Crank is ideal for trout, crappie, bluegill, perch and other smaller-sized gamefish.

It's not clear whether these will remain around for long. They were on Lucky Craft's discontinued list in 2004.

Lucky Craft CB-Mighty D2RCrankbait
CB-Mighty. Floating. 1-3/4" (excluding lip). 1/4 oz. Lucky Craft USA has discontinued this lure.

Under 2 inches long, the CB-Mighty was one of the smallest Lucky Craft lipped crankbaits. Unfortunately, the CB-Mighty may not have sold well in North America since Lucky Craft has taken it off the market. Nevertheless, it is a great bait. It catches lots of bass especially when larger crankbaits aren't working well.

Despite its small size, it is compact and heavy enough to cast well even with a  baitcaster. There are few other crankbaits so small that can be wielded on a baitcaster -and that dive so deeply. I'd say the CB-Mighty easily gets down around 8 or 9 feet with 10 lb. test line.

It is especially useful as a tournament pre-fishing tool and as a quick limit-filler when you need to put five squeakers in the tank.

The CB-Mighty will attract a tremendous amount of attention when you just want to pre-fish or "test fish" an area. I favor a small crankbait of this size to pre-fish. You'll just get a lot of action. So I keep one CB-Mighty with the hook points rolled in when I want to determine how many fish are present, but not hook them. Rubbed down in MegaStrike fish attractant gel, such a small profile crankbait truly flushes out a lot of pre-fish. This allows me to easily see the most active fish-holding locations as I crank down a long stretch of bank during pre-fish. This helps identify the types of cover, structure, spots, and sections of a bank being used by bass.

Even without rolling the hook points inward, the stock hooks are so small that a high percentage of fish will tend to bounce off or let go of this bait without getting stuck. So when I want to actually catch a few, I upgrade the rear treble hook one size larger which helps grab a lot of fish that may miss the original factory-rigged #8 treble hook. I don't change out the belly hook, but I upgrade the tail treble to a #6 EWG style treble. You'll immediately notice many more fish stay stuck and get landed with the larger tail hook - and it doesn't detract from the lure's action.

Lucky Craft Flat CB MR Crankbait
Flat CB MR. Floating. 2-1/2" (excluding lip). 3/8 oz.

Some years ago when Lucky Craft was first entering the North American market, I had the opportunity to meet with and test some of their crankbaits with one of their top lure designers at that time. In terms of their crankbaits that had been successful in Japan and that they hoped to introduce into North America, I advised the hooks were too small and the balance too temperamental for the North American market. By temperamental, I mean they would work well on a slow retrieve, but on a moderate to fast retrieve, became unbalanced and prone to go into a roll as the balance weights shifted inside. A difference exists between Japanese anglers who tend to use lighter tackle, smaller hooks and nurture more delicate balance in lures versus North American anglers who use heavier tackle, prefer larger hooks and desire more lure stability than our Japanese counterparts.

Within a few years, Lucky Craft did indeed debut what they then called their "Pro Tune Series" crankbaits including the Flat CB MR, DR, D12 and D20. The new Pro Tune series sported bigger hooks and more stable cranking actions.

Flat CB MR (Medium Runner). I'd say it works down around 5 feet more or less with 10 lb. test line, and can be used with 12 to 14 lb. test line, not getting quite as deep.

One of my favorite modifications with this lure is to replace the tail treble with a feathered one. I believe the feather enhances the movement and appearance of this bait. That's not the blanket case with all crankbaits, but it is one of the upgrades I routinely perform with the Flat CB MR. On the Aurora Ghost Golden Shiner color you see here, I often use an orange/copper feathered hook. To me, this overall pattern represents a crawfish or a sunfish. Of course, a white, white/chartreuse or whatever feather works fine too.

I tend to use the Flat CB MR a lot like I use a lipless rattling crankbait. It is stable and easy to crank at moderate to fast paces. Similar to a lipless rattling crankbait, the Flat CB MR has a flat-sided body and a tight fast wriggle. The advantage is in snaggy areas, the Flat CB MR is not prone to get stuck as easily as a lipless rattling crankbait. So I often go to the Flat CB MR whenever fish are whacking lipless crankbaits in shallow or flooded brush or snaggy areas. It's great to slam it through shallow armchair-sized boulder beds too. These are places that lipless rattlebaits get snagged fairly easily - but the Flat CB MR with a similar action to rattlebaits does not get snagged as much or as badly.

Lucky Craft Flat CB DR Crankbait
Flat CB DR. Floating. 2-1/2" (excluding lip). 1/2 oz.

The Flat CB DR is a money bait. I know of a number of tournaments won with the help of the Flat CB DR.

The DR designation stands for Deep Runner. It works down around 10 feet with 10 lb test, and slightly less with 12 lb test.

At times I replace the tail treble on the Flat CB DR with a feathered one, but it's hardly necessary to do this. A white/chartreuse feather complements both the chartreuse shad and the blue chartreuse color pattern you see here.

One thing to watch for in the Flat CB DR, D12 AND D20 is to give them all a yank before cranking. Internally they have a large metal ball that moves in a chamber to the back of the bait to help maximize casting distance. The ball does not always automatically roll back down the chamber behind the diving bill at the completion of a cast. So you may need to yank them first to help roll the ball down into the diving position before cranking.

Lucky Craft Flat CB D12 Crankbait
Flat CB D-12. Floating. 3" (excluding lip). 3/4 oz.

True to its name, the D-12 does get down toward the 12 foot depth range more or less. It is a heavy duty crankbait that's larger and gets deeper than the crankbaits most anglers typically use - and it dredges up larger bass than most anglers typically catch as well. It's hard work to throw all day, but you can be well-rewarded by the D-12. You may not get as many, but they'll be heavy.

Lucky Craft Flat CB D20 Crankbait
Flat CB D-20. Floating. 3" (excluding lip). 3/4 oz.

There are only a few crankbaits that can get deeper than 15 feet (without trolling) and handle well at that level. So when Lucky Craft came out with the D20 approximately two years ago, it was immediately deployed by some of the sport's top national and top regional pro anglers. The pros who have been using these desire to keep it quiet. It's much larger and dives deeper than most anglers typically use. Indeed, it's about as extreme as a bass crankbait gets to be. It's hard work to throw all day, but you can be well-rewarded by large bass landed on the D20.

Lucky Craft Lipless Rattlebaits

Lucky Craft currently offers eight models of lipless rattlebaits. The photo at right shows nine including (clockwise from top) the finned LV70 (discontinued), LVR Mini (1/4 oz), LVR D7 (1/2 oz), LVR D10 (3/4 oz), LVR D15 (1 oz), LV 500 (3/4 oz), LV200 (7/16 oz), LV300 (3/4 oz) and finned LV100 (7/16 oz).

The LV100 and LV500 were the first two introduced into the USA approximately five years ago. The LV200 and LV300 were only available in Japan (or on eBay) until mid-2004 when Lucky Craft added them to their USA product line.

The LV100, 200, 300 and 500 sound as if they should be a family or series of sizes of the same lure model. They're not. No two LV models are even remotely related to each other. The LV100, 200, 300 and 500 are four totally different lures. All four are designed differently and can do different things as described in the following sections.

On the other hand, Lucky Craft's other four LVR models are a related series - essentially the same lure design in four different sizes. The four LVR's are relatively new designs introduced a few years ago as part of what Lucky Craft at that time called their "Pro Tune" series. The LVR D7 and D10 are the two I find most useful due to their average sizes. The LVR Mini is a bit too light and the LVR D15 a bit too big for everyday usage. But the LVR D7 and D10 are just right! Get more info in the sections below.

Lucky Craft LV100 Rattlebait
LV100. 2-1/2". 7/16 oz.

The LV100 is a smaller lure; a great size for spinning tackle. I tend to use the LV100 as a free-falling drop bait, a technique that's also suited to spinning gear.

Its small size, light weight, plus unique ability to fall horizontally as it quivers makes the LV100 the finesse model. One of the LV100's strengths is its slow yet perfect horizontal falling quiver. Cast it beyond visible cover, retrieve it up to the cover, and then pause for the LV100 to shiver and quiver down alongside the cover. Fish barrel out of cover to blast it on the fall.

Around ledges, depth breaks, dock pilings, marina walls, simply drop it above the spot where fish are holding on the ledge, on the wall, etc. When the LV100 sinks down to where the fish are, it will always drops horizontally and slowly like a natural fish. Twitch the line slightly once or twice every few seconds as it falls. This activates a side-to-side quiver in the falling lure. The LV100 hovers, quivers and falls slowly like a flickering, injured baitfish. When it sinks to the depth where fish are holding (or just above bottom), raise the rod tip to vibrate and rattle the LV100 a few feet upward, then let it quiver and shiver back toward the fish again. Repeat this yo-yo motion of a struggling baitfish until you trigger a bite.

Lucky Craft LV200 Rattlebait
LV200. 5/8 oz.

Whereas the LV100 has four internal weight chambers for several sizes of brass, glass and steel BBs, the LV200 has only one single large ball affixed to a loose plate inside. The LV200 emits a single-thump heartbeat as opposed to the incessant, raucous chatter of "normal" rattlebaits.

Lucky Craft LV300 Rattlebait
LV300. 3/4 oz.

As odd as it is for the LV200 to contain only one ball to make it thump like a lonesome drum, the LV300 has absolutely zero rattles inside. The LV300 is like Charlie Chan, the silent movie star of the thirties... but that's not bad.

Both these quieter rattlebaits, the LV200 and 300 have helped me catch buckets of "extra" rattlebait bass. How I use the LV200 and 300 is to first go down a bank and pull the initial receptive fish with a "normal" high-chattering rattlebait such as a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap or a Daiwa TD Vibration. This noisiness "wakes up the bass" so to speak. Once fish are exposed to fan-casting with high-chatterers, it can quickly become counterproductive to go back down the same bank again with the same high-chattering baits. The repeated noisiness (an attractant at first), can become a repellant that only serves to alienate fish(or so it seems) by continuing to throw the very loud, harsh rattlebaits. So what I do instead is go down the same bank again with the silent LV300 or single-thumping LV200, often helping myself to catch another few good fish with this quieter approach the second time. It's a similar profile, similar vibration without the high-chatter. A few more fish always seem to fall for it.

Except for the LV200 and LV300, there are few other quiet-type rattlebaits that perform so well for me.

Lucky Craft LV500 Rattlebait
LV500. 3". 3/4 oz.

The body size of the LV500 matches that of most other 1/2 oz rattlebaits. However, the LV500 is 3/4 oz so it casts longer distance and it descends much deeper than the others. This is the reason I rely on the LV500 - it covers more distance much deeper than most any other rattlebait.

When you cast, you must begin the retrieve immediately with the LV500. If you wait to let the LV500 settle deeper, it tends to twirl around and snarl the fishing line in the hooks if you let it drop or if you pause to yo-yo it.

So, just burn it back! The LV500 casts further and covers more water than other rattlebaits. It will seek a working level of 7 to 10 feet deep all by itself. This is below where most other rattlebaits will stay on a retrieve. Best of all, you can burn the LV500, and it will still stay deep.

A favorite LV500 application for me is to burn deep points. In lakes with lots of points, this can become an LV500 pattern many days, where a bass or two will belt the LV500 (usually retrieved fast) on practically every point. Once you uncover a pattern and it seems repeatable on a few points, then you can run from point to point to point, and repeatedly present the LV500 the same way each time - and pull a bass or two off each point. In this way, the LV500 functions as a highly productive pattern bait - not just for points, but for whatever other repeatable pattern you can produce with the LV500. Keep in mind, it is the deepest runner, but you cannot count it down or pause it without frequently snarling the line.

The color shown here, Pearl Ayu excels in all water color from clear to dark. The shiny pearl sides emit a bright white flash.

Lucky Craft LVR D7 Rattlebait
LVR D7. 2-1/4" 1/2 oz.

The design of the LVR D7 is thinner and to me, the LVR D7 tends to ride higher with a little less vibration and less chatter than usual. I'm not saying it doesn't chatter a lot, but it is less loud. It's most useful for me in shallow situations, when I want to keep a rattlebait high, or where I want to rattle through snaggy cover that grabs and holds other rattlebaits way too often, the LVR D7 gets the nod.

The color shown ais Aurora Ghost Golden Shiner. This is one of my pet Lucky Craft colors. So far, it has been a limited color that does not come in many models. The color can resemble a greenish/brownish crawdad. I often add an orange/copper feather treble to enhance this color pattern. With the orange tail, it can resemble a green sunfish as much as a crawfish.

Lucky Craft LVR D10 Rattlebait
LVR D10. 3-1/4". 3/4 oz.

The LVR D10 has a bigger profile than most rattlebaits. That's the simple reason I use it - to appeal to bigger bass. If you throw the LVR D10 all day, you will have a bigger average size of bass than if you threw standard size rattlebaits in the same places. It's that simple.

The LVR D10 has #4 trebles. I replace these with a pair of #2 trebles. The LVR D7, LV500, LV300, LV200 all get upgraded to a pair of #4 trebles.

I like red trebles on rattlebaits. On the LVR D7 (top in photo) and the LV200 (bottom), I hang feathered trebles off the back. I find feathers enhance the day-to-day action and appearance of those two models - but feathers do not necessarily add anything spectacular to the other LV or LVR models. I like three feathers and a little flash tied into it.

Fish tend to strike directly at the feathers - or engulf the lure from behind. This contradicts a popular strike theory that says fish bite at the back of a crankbait, jerkbait or rattlebait to indicate to the angler that these fish aren't overly-impressed with the lure, and the back bites are to tell the angler to toss them a better color than this bogus one. According to this theory, fish strike at the back hook of a bait because it's the wrong color, wrong size or the baits holding its mouth wrong. This theory is not true - at least not with feathered tails. Fish strike the feathered back hook because they like it, because that's where the action is.

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