I've tested hundreds of crankbaits over the years, which has taught me a lot about the good and the bad of different design aspects. While there are plenty of mass-produced plugs out there that will catch plenty of bass, I've always had a slight obsession with hand-painted crankbaits. Knowing that I might be the only angler on my lake who owns a particular color is exciting to me; and it also boosts my confidence in a big way.
For the past few months, I've been testing the Bay Rat Lures Battle 1.5 and it has been a solid producer in some pretty tough fishing conditions. There are a lot of cool features in this little crankbait that I'll explain in the next few slides.
Perfect belly hook placement
How many times have you made the perfect cast just to have it ruined by the front treble hook? If it's placed too far forward on the crankbait, it'll get fouled on the bill and if it's placed too far back, it'll snag the rear treble hook and cause your plug to look like a wounded duck. If you use crankbaits enough, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Thankfully, I've found that the Bay Rat Lures Battle 1.5 is near perfect in regards to hook placement. You can try all you want, but the No. 4 trebles will not get caught on each other or the bill; even when you're casting into a stiff breeze. This results in practically zero wasted casts, which increases your efficiency when covering large areas. These hooks are also fairly large for a 2 1/2-inch crankbait, which has helped me catch several fish that have merely "swiped" at the lure.
You'll notice that this crankbait doesn't have a typical split ring on the nose; it has been replaced with a wire snap. In my experience thus far, it seems as if the addition of this snap gives the Battle 1.5 a wider wobble and more distinct tail kick than many other similar
Deflects well to avoid snags
The bill of the Battle 1.5 is a little thicker than a lot of my other squarebills, which has really helped the durability of this bait. In addition to the thickness, the bill does an excellent job of protecting you from annoying hang-ups and snags. Now, this doesn't mean you can reel as hard as you can and expect it to come through a heavy laydown, but with a short pause upon contact with cover, this crankbait will easily crawl over most obstacles in its way.
As it deflects off of cover, it will actually kick to the side an inch or two, which gives off a great flash of color. A lot of my bites have come after popping it off of a branch, which tells me it's doing a great job of enticing those reaction strikes, even when the bass aren't feeding heavily.
The hand-painted colors are really impressive
There are 31 colors to choose from in the Battle 1.5 line and some of them are just flat-out sexy. I've seen a lot of similar hand-painted plugs retail at $20 or more, but these squarebills are affordably priced at $9.99.
My all-time favorite crankbait color is Gable Green and for whatever reason, you can rarely (if ever) find it from a large manufacturer. I have buddies who pay $40 per crankbait in this color. There are two colors in this particular line that come dangerously close to this color: Lemon Lime and Blue/Chartreuse. If you're fishing in any type of lightly stained water, you'd be hard-pressed to beat these colors. I was thrilled to see a Gable Green-type color in this lineup.
Made in the good ol' US of A
It's becoming tougher to find lures that are 100 percent made in the USA, but Bay Ray Lures seems to be bucking that trend. This squarebill, along with their other lures, is constructed with all American-made materials and components. Personally speaking, I'll pay an extra dollar or two for an American-made product all day long.
No tweaks needed
The Battle 1.5 is ready to catch fish from the moment you open the package. Each one I've fished has tracked true at all retrieve speeds and they don't blow-out when you're burning 'em back to the boat. The hooks aren't those cheap, tinfoil-type hooks that'll bend after two fish and the split rings are stout as well. I haven't needed to make a single modification to these crankbaits yet.