What is it about crankbaits that makes them so attractive? And are we more attracted to them than the fish? Inquiring minds want to know.
It seems that the prettier the paint job, the more we ogle and drool over the fancy handmade, hand-painted crankbait under the pane of glass. Yet when we reach into the potpourri of colors in the tackle box searching for a palette of confidence, we grab the battle worn, road rash looking bait, with one eye missing and the paint busted off one side.
A finely crafted wooden plug captures a fisherman’s soul unlike many other tackle items in the boat or tackle bag. Maybe it’s the intricate detailing, or fancy effects wielded by artist expressed through paint. Maybe it’s what we feel in the rod as we wind it through limbs, ticking blades of grass as it ricochets off outward jutting rocks.
Yep. We love to crank. So do some of you. So sometimes reviewing product is not all business but a little pleasure mixed in. Okay. Maybe reviewing fishing products is all fun. Fair enough.
We took a couple colors of Stanford Cedar 1.5 Patriot Shad to the lake with the recent warming trends going on across the south and got to test its effectiveness on the bass that moved up a little shallower than their winter haunts. The lake muddied and warmed, a combination that generally sends bass to the shallows.
The Patriot Shad is made of cedar. The wood is a bit denser than balsa and the bait feels harder and more solid than some of the homemade balsa baits. The paint jobs feature foil finishes in modern popular colors like citrus, sexy shad, chartreuse green, Tennessee shad and more. The lip is circuit board and the hooks, split rings and hook hangers are all quality.
They baits look great but the proof of product in fishing tackle is always on the water. We spent a bit of time fishing it in very shallow water, rocky banks, laydowns, stumps and more. They bait did a good job of not hook itself on the line. One thing we’ve noticed with some square bills is they have a tendency to “put their foot in their mouth,” or in essence catch the front hook on the line just ahead of the line tie when they hit the water. The Stanford Patriot didn’t do that.
The Patriot has a tighter wobble than a lot of square bills on the market. Being carved from a high quality grade of cedar makes the bait denser and those gives the bait a tighter wobble in the water. It also gives it a very natural sound. Not a lot of plastic clicking noises with this bait.
The other thing I noticed was it deflected well. You want a bait that is balanced well so that when it hits a piece of cover, it kicks out and then gets back on its track so that it doesn’t “scoot” along on its side unable to right itself. Having a bait that “hunts” is one thing, but one that kicks out and runs sideways is another thing. It’s apparent they spent some time getting the weighting of the the Patriot Shad right.
The finish is pretty durable, although we cast it up into shallow water on some rocks and chipped the paint on one side of the bait. So anglers will need to exercise some caution when casting around objects harder than the bait itself. It is not indestructible just because it’s hand carved and painted.
The crankbait did a good job coming through wood. It will hang on the wood sometimes, but it’s probably 80-90 percent snag free with a patient, rod-tip-high retrieve. The Patriot is extremely buoyant because of the cedar which means it will back up and away from cover. It also makes it effective with a line snap to free your hung bait, another aspect we liked about the bait.
The denseness of the cedar makes the bait very castable. Such a compact bait can often be hard to cast, but this one casts very well, swims well, reacts well, and most importantly catches fish.
We keep boxes and boxes of baits and we have a couple boxes that we guard with our lives. We don’t even leave them in the boat, they come in and out of the house with us. There are just certain baits that we know get the job done. We might have 20 of the same bait but only a couple are in the special box.
After testing the Stanford Cedar Deep Cedar and now the square bill 1.5 Patriot Shad, we’ve got a few Stanford Cedars taking up residence in the special boxes.
To take a look at the color options, pricing and background on Stanford Cedar lures, visit stanfordcedarlures.com.