We see a lot of the same names over and over in the fishing industry; proven companies with massive product lines that dominate the bass fishing world. And those companies pump out some of the best and most productive products money can buy so they've earned their positions atop the mountain.
But I still like to see something a little different every now and then. And when I do, my eyes are drawn to it. That's what happened when sifting through a box of products I received a while back. The box had baits from all sorts of different companies and all the usual suspects were there.
I quickly spotted baits I hadn't yet tried from companies that I have a ton of respect for and confidence in. But I also spotted a name I hadn't seen before, "Nishine Lure Works". The label was on a little box that held a small crankbait, at first glance thought to be a squarebill, but upon further inspection I started noticing several peculiarities. So I decided this was a lure I wanted to spend some time with. Here's what I've learned.
The name Nishine and a broad look at the Nishine Chippawa RB Slow Float
Admitting my own ignorance a bit, I had never heard the name Hiroshi Nishine before. But the quality and uniqueness of that first lure I saw, the Chippawa RB, was enough to pique my interest and got me to doing a little digging. That research taught me that Nishine is a respected lure carver from Japan that has been dedicated to the craft for 30 years and has worked with several large companies before creating his current venture in 2006, Nishine Lure Works. Now to the bait in the box.
At first glance, several things about the Chippawa RB piqued my interest. For starters, the lure is about the length and thickness of most popular squarebills but has flatter sides than many of those, which means it will move more water. And in fact, it's not a squarebill at all but we'll get into more about that shortly.
Another thing that caught my eye right away was the paint job. Not only is it extremely detailed, but it is also very flat-as in not glossy. If you've ever seen an actual crawfish, you know that they don't have a real sheen to them. Instead, they are rather dull. The same thing happens to bait fish in stained water. They have more of a glow to them than a shine. Nishine did a great job here creating a lure that will work extremely well at mimicking the actual look of a crawfish in clear-water situations and has other colors that will be great for stained to muddy water.
RB stands for "round bill". This bill design gives the lure a different action from most others in its size and depth range. Where most lures this size have square-shaped bills that create a harder kick with a more defined pattern, the Chippawa RB has a more erratic action and tends to roll or crawl over cover; an action similar to what I would expect a short-billed Wiggle Wart to have.
It's important to keep that in mind when approaching cover. Know that the lure will lay over to the side and not clear the cover as far, as long as you take it easy and kind of worm the bait through, you'll avoid a lot of snags. But the good thing about this action is that the bait will dip quickly back down into the cover and lure out more bass that are tucked in close than some other baits this size.
Paired with extremely sharp and strong Ichikawa Treble Hooks, the bass won't be able to throw this bait often. Hooks are a key component of any hard bait. If you buy a $10 bait with bad hooks, you have to pay another couple bucks for a set of good hooks. And hooks aren't sold in sets of two so you're typically looking at throwing in another $5 to $10 for a pack of hooks just to get the bait up to speed.
This is definitely not the case with the Nishine Chippawa RB and is one of the justifications for its $14.99 price point. I have bought several baits in that price range without good hooks or as much attention to detail, so I feel this bait is a good investment.
I like the bend of this style of hook as well. I've used it in other brands and its referred to as an O'Shaughnessy bend. It does a great job of locking into a fish and keeping them penned below the bend.
The bait floats slowly to the surface on the pause and while doing so has a slight wobble thanks to its larger flat sides and weighting system. This action will likely be particularly alluring in coldwater situations when the bait collides into cover and then slowly rises into a trailing fish's face.
As previously stated, you'll need to worm this bait through dense cover to keep it from hanging up. The only thing that makes that possible is the bait's slow floating characteristic. If the bait suspended or sunk, you'd hang it up on every cast, but it floats instead to allow you to crawl it through cover.
That's what it was designed to do. This isn't a bait you just burn back to the boat. You want to slowly crawl it through cover and when you feel it start to snag, just pause for a second or two and let the bait float up a few inches before continuing your retrieve.
You'll inevitably get a bite on that pause. As the bait slowly rises out of the cover, a nearby bass will see an opportunity and attack. Though I haven't had the chance to throw the Nishine Chippawa RB in cold water yet when this technique really shines, I have fished it through dense cover and it has the same characteristics as the handful of the other baits that we like to fish this way with. This will be a nasty bait for that technique in the winter.
But don't write the bait off just yet as a coldwater-only presentation. We have caught big fish this way in shallow, muddy water during all four seasons. Whether a bass is preparing for the spawn, lethargic and looking for shade in the summer or positioned to ambush prey in the fall, there are always fish buried up shallow in dense cover. Making this a bait that will shine most in the winter, but also effective shallow in all seasons.
I like the Nishine Chippawa RB Slow Float. It's a bait on the fringes of uniqueness and that's a rarity these days. It has some of the characteristics of a few other baits that I really like, but still has its own thing going own. Certainly not a run-of-the-mill knock off like a lot of baits you see these days.
The action created by the round bill, flat sides and slow floating characteristic makes it a great crankbait to worm through cover like riprap and laydowns in an attempt to pull out big bass that are buried up. When fishing this way you will get hung up from time to time, especially in the beginning. This technique requires focus and a feel for it. Early on, as the bait collides with cover you'll mistake it for a bite and set the hook, which will hang the bait up.
The best way to avoid doing this is to never set the hook, even when it is a bite. There is no need to set the hook with this bait. Its super sharp hooks ensure that the fish will hook itself as it pulls and your rod loads up. Heavy hooksets fishing this way will just tear through the fish a lot of times anyway.
Instead, just be patient and crawl the bait through the cover. Let it make repeated contact with what you're fishing it through and then pause the bait if it starts to stick and let it rise above the cover. When a bass does bite, it will drive the hook home for you. As your rod loads up, that's when you'll need to pull back and try to maneuver the fish away from the cover.
With the Nishine Chippawa RB, you have a bait with the right components, color choices and characteristics to trick a lot of lethargic bass into biting. And that makes it a bait I'd buy.