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Bagley Balsa B Crankbait Review

I get accused of being old school at times, but in my humble opinion, the new Bagley Balsa B crankbaits are anything but old school. Hand-crafted designs have met the future with these balsa jewels. State of the art craftsmanship from design to action and because they are made of balsa they are in a league of their own. They cast a mile, have killer new paint jobs and the hardware and hooks are exceptional. I am totally impressed with their buoyancy and just how well they come through cover too.

Balsa wood crankbait backstory

There is something very special about balsa. Lure manufacturers found out very early that wooden materials formed well and could be replicated. While some were too dense, didn’t have buoyant properties or didn’t hold up well, Balsa is a lightweight wood that is high floating and until recent years was plentiful and inexpensive. Recently more balsa is being used in wind turbines and laminates in the recreation and auto industries so it has become more of a premium for bait building than in years past. 

Fast growing balsa trees are native to Mexico and Brazil but now plantations in Ecuador is a prime source for this mallow wood. About 95% of the commercial balsa now comes from Ecuador. It is farmed specifically for commercial use like lure building and is of a higher quality.

Early balsa innovators included Rapala and Bagley and today cottage businesses mainly in East Tennessee and below the Mason-Dixon build specialty crankbaits out of balsa. They can be shaped and finished easily and hold paint exceptionally well. Balsa topwaters and jerkbaits are sought after for their durability and fast float properties by in-the- know top pros and weekend anglers.


My experiences with the Bagley Balsa B

The Balsa B Crankbait can be run at a fast pace with high speed reels or equally well with a stop and go retrieve. The aerodynamic design of the square bill doesn’t have a seam in the bill like many others and with the centered line tie to the nose of the bait allows it to run true out of the package. The line tie to the nose also allows for a wire through anchor for split rings and hooks both on the belly and the tail. They utilize premier hook makers VMC and Mustad on all of their baits. 

In cold water, early spring conditions, I truly believe that balsa is a huge advantage. One of the key ingredients to balsa baits is how well they float up when stopped. Grinding the bottom through rocks and limbs or through a clump of weeds is smooth, and if you do happen to get hung, the bait floats quickly backwards to free itself most times. A quick slingshot of the line, and most times, the lure comes free. 

With water temperatures in the low 50s, a slow retrieve with a 5.4:1 gear ratio on 12-pound line seems to garner more bites. The side to side wobble of the Balsa B2 attracts lethargic fish holding tight to stumps and rocks this time of year. As water begins to warm, a more rapid retrieve triggers the bite, but a stop and go retrieve particularly around objects, seems to be the ticket. 

I like to bang into cover when water temps are near 60 degrees to trigger bites. When the B2 smacks a log or a stump, let it sit. It will float up and many times the fish that is using that piece of cover will smash it. Don’t worry much about hurting these baits as they extremely durable. 

The new 2 1/2-inch B2 weighs 7/16 ounce and casts exceptionally well. 

The Balsa B2 paint schemes are off the charts. The attention to small details like eyes and scales make the B2 more visible but also more lifelike too. The rounded body allows the bait to catch more light and reflect it causing flash. My early spring favorites include Tennessee Shad, all the crawfish patterns and bluegill lookalikes too. 


Bagley B2 colors and availability

The Bagley Balsa B is available at Tackle Warehouse and starts at $8.99. It is now available in 2 sizes (B2 & B3) and 14 colors including:

  • BB – Baby Bass
  • BS – Black Silver (foil)
  • BGO – Black Gold Orange (foil) (NEW)
  • BSO – Blue White Orange
  • CBGL – Chartreuse Bluegill (NEW)
  • CHCW – Chartreuse Crawdad (NEW)
  • CSD – Chartreuse Shad
  • CTSD – Citrus Shad (NEW)
  • GG – Grey Ghost (NEW)
  • HT – Hot Tiger
  • RCW – Red Crawdad (NEW)
  • SD – Shad
  • SS – Sexy Shad
  • TSO – Tennessee Shad Orange

Bagley’s Balsa B square bill crankbaits are back and better than ever.