There are a few bait genres with which I'm not too familiar and I consider wake baits to be one of them. I just haven't spent a lot of time throwing one and I chalk that up to having a few other baits that I really do like to throw in situations where a wakebait would likely shine.
But as I was reminded during my time testing out the Duel Hardcore Noi-Z 105F, wake baits really are a special category of lure that do something a little different. They're capable of generating strikes those other baits just can't muster, certainly creating better hookup ratios at times. So as is often the case, being obligated to throw a bait for a product review really fired me back up for the bait's genre and I'm excited to report on what I've found. So let's dive in.
The Hardcore Noi-Z 105F throws a nice, uniform wake at a slow and steady retrieve. The "F" in the name of the bait stands for floating, which this lure does whenever paused. But as soon as you begin to reel the bait, the well-positioned bill tries to dig in and make the bait dive. But unlike a squarebill or other crankbait, the position and pitch of the bill doesn't really dig in, so much as pushes water, thus creating the wake.
You can reel the bait too fast and then it will dive an inch or two under the water, or blow out to one side. But on a nice steady retrieve, the action is flawless and the wake is really pretty. The wake is a visual aid the fish use to track the bait, and mimics what a bass would see if a frog, snake, small rodent or injured baitfish were to be swimming along the surface. Pairing that wake with the sound of the bait, you have a deadly combo. More on what generates all that sound now.
This thing sounds fantastic in the water and really possesses its own unique noise. There are 3 components that go into creating this sound: the prop, the rattle and the wake itself. On the tail-end of the bait, you'll find a small metal prop. As the bait swims back along the surface, you can hear this little prop splashing and squeaking, almost like a miniature buzzbait.
Then there's the rattle. One big metal bead chambered in the front half of the bait paired with a small bead in the tail end creates a nasty and slow one knocker sound on the front end amplified by a faster, sharper rattle in the back; it's really a cool combination. Then on top of all of that, the actual water sloshing around as the bait wakes along the surface creates a little more noise. The culmination of all three audio outputs creates a unique combination that's just loud enough to help fish track the bait, but not so loud as to turn one off as it gets close to the lure. Really well done here.
Overall build and size
I banged this bait off the rocks and seawalls a few times and I'm pleased to say those errant casts weren't show stoppers. The Noi-Z 105F is a solid bait, consisting of two segments that are joined together via a duel metal hinge system. Well-secured hook hangers and three decent-sized trebles give you plenty of opportunity to hookup and help you rest assured the bait is capable of hauling big ones to the boat. The feather-tipped hook on the tail-end of the bait paired with the prop are the double exclamation points that really punctuate this lure.
The size is also well thought out. Some of the few wake baits that I have thrown in the past are very large and can surely be a little intimidating to smaller fish. Not to say I didn't catch small fish on those baits, since I often would catch a 12-inch bass on a 10-inch lure and wonder what on earth the fish was thinking. But those baits were really big-fish baits, which made them difficult to commit to in competitive situations. While the Noi-Z 105F is still certainly built to draw big strikes, at a little over 4 inches it's perfect for tournament competition where you don't want to alienate a lot of keeper bites with a bigger bait.
Night and lowlight
Wakebaits certainly work throughout the day at times but I found that most of my bites on the Noi-Z 105F came either in lowlight or even in the dark. Again, both the noise and the wake that are generated by this bait make it a perfect presentation in low visibility. Having the substantial visual aid of a wake to help track the bait and the noise for the fish to hone in on as it gets closer make it a great bait to fish at night.
We fish a lot of little night tournaments in the summer, so finding a bait that works well in the dark is pretty special. You're limited at night to only a handful of the baits that work in the daylight. And even then, some of those baits are too aggressive and loud at night. The Noi-Z 105F offers up a little nugget that hits a sweet spot for night fishing that's not too loud, but just loud enough.
This is one of those baits I'm glad I got to test. The Noi-Z 105F impressed me and also set me back on fire for the whole wake bait genre. With 5 color options ranging from translucent shad patterns to more solid shad and bluegill colors, there's something there to mimic nearly any fish that would make a wake a long the surface. These colors give you options for a wide variety of water clarities.
A solid build with strong components, Duel did a great job creating a unique sounding bait capable of drawing big strikes while still not overlooking the smaller fish either. With an MSRP of $19.99, the Noi-Z 105F offers a quality bait at a reasonable price and is one of the baits I have enjoyed reviewing the most as of late. Well done.