Large swimbaits have exploded in popularity among avid bass anglers in recent years. What used to be a niche category of baits relegated to West Coast anglers and a few ambitious trophy chasers elsewhere, has become a mainstream mainstay the last decade or so.
The Megabass Magdraft was the first mass produced bait of its kind to gain the widespread notoriety among novice big bait anglers. Chris Zaldain, and other professional fishermen had a lot to do with the potential and popularity of this bait being realized.
Zaldain has since designed his own swimbait. And while he’s received some criticism from the fans of the old faithful Magdraft for his offering being a little too similar to his first love, the Daignerous Swimbait is different enough to warrant its own spot in the swimbait fanatic’s tackle box. And then there’s the new Berkley Cull Shad, a bait that was “accidentally” released this spring and immediately became harder to get your hands on than one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.
I was able to get my hands on one from Berkley. I was immediately very impressed. I’ve also been throwing a Magdraft for a few years now. And while I don’t have that much experience with the Bass Mafia Daingerous Swimbait, I thought it would be a good idea to compare and contrast the three, to give anglers an idea of where they differ and in what situations one may outshine the other.
WHAT THE SWIMBAITS HAVE IN COMMON
All three of these baits land squarely in the swimbait category. Though they differ in many ways, these are all baits that are to be used to mimic large prey in the hopes of drawing strikes from larger than average bass. They appeal to a big fish’s desire to stalk and eat a large meal.
The profiles are fairly similar across all three baits, and they are each designed to be reeled along slowly at a steady pace so that their paddle tails can kick to and fro while the bodies of the baits wobble tightly top to bottom.
SWIMBAIT RIGGING COMPARISONS
The most readily identifiable difference between these three baits has to do with their rigging. The Cull Shad and Magdraft both come pre-rigged with an internal harness system that provides an external line-tie and hanging treble hook assembly. The Daingerous Swimbait comes unrigged, as a simple soft plastic bait. An unrigged Magdraft is also available in their Freestyle version.
The pre-rigged Cull Shad and Magdraft differ in how the hook is kept close to the body of the bait during the retrieve. The Magdraft uses an internal magnet to keep the hook high and tight, while the Cull Shad has screw-lock clip twisted up into the belly of the bait that the shaft of the treble hook can be snapped into. Both of these systems allow the hook to detach and swing freely during the fight, minimizing the leverage the bass could use to throw the baits.
The Daingerous swimbait has more options when it comes to rigging. It can be rigged with a treble hook, either above or below the bait. Or it can be rigged weedless using a large weighted or unweighted Extra Wide Gap (EWG) hook. All of this is possible as well with the Freestyle Magdraft.
SIZE AND WEIGHT COMPARISONS
There are a few differences when it comes to the sizes offered in these baits. The treble hook pre-rigged versions of the Magdraft and Cull Shad both come in 6 and 8 inches, with a monstrous 10-inch version also available in the Magdraft. The unrigged Magdraft is available in 6 inches and the Daignerous bait is available in 6- and 7-inch versions.
The weights are all over the place when looking at all these different offerings. To keep things simple, we’ll only compare the weights of comparable 6-inch baits. The small Cull Shad weighs 1 ounce. The 6-inch Magdraft weighs 1 1/4 ounces. And the Freestyle Magdraft weighs 1 1/5 ounces. While the Daingerous Swimbait weighs 1 ounce.
The Daingerous Swimbait is the stiffest, by a slim margin, with the Magdraft being second. The Cull Shad is by far the most limber of these three baits. This has more to do with the design of the back half of the bait than it really does the material used.
Where the Magdraft and Daingerous swimbaits are essentially solid chunks of plastic, the Cull Shad actually has a honey comb construction for the latter half of the bait. This removes a lot of the material from the body of the bait, which allows the bait to fold over onto itself when the honeycombs collapse.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE 3 SWIMBAITS
Shifting here a bit, it’s important to understand this conversation will become much more opinion oriented. The Magdraft is what it is, a phenomenal bait that berthed a genre all its own and set the bar high to beat. The Daingerous Swimbait is a quality bait that works well for certain applications, and can be modified to become more versatile. The Cull Shad, in my opinion, may just be the next big thing.
Though the Daingerous Swimbait can be rigged with a treble hook for open water scenarios, the Magdraft and Cull Shad are better suited for this style of fishing right out of the box. Looking at the 6-inch versions, the Magdraft is a little heavier than the Cull Shad and thus skips a little easier. But the Cull Shad skips plenty well enough, so much so that I hung it up 12 feet back under a dock at one point.
With the pre-rigged Magdraft being a 1/4-ounce heavier than the comparable Cull Shad, it’s a little easier to fish deeper (without modifying the baits at all). So the Magdraft is better suited to be fished a little deeper out of the pack, along bluffs and points. The Cull Shad does have two predetermined locations along the belly where nail weights can be added to easy help the bait get deeper when desired.
The Cull Shad being lighter can be advantageous at times too though. When skipping docks with cross beams for example, you have to reel a Magdraft fast to clear the cover. This is sometimes faster than the fish want to move, and the bait can blowout to one side at these higher speeds. The lighter Cull Shad can be reeled slower, higher. Which makes it better for this particular situation.
When moving to heavy cover, the Cull Shad and regular Magdraft are limited with their belly mounted treble hooks, and the Daingerous Swimbait and Magdraft Freestyle really start to shine.
Being able to rig these two baits weedless with large EWG hooks makes them great for thick vegetation and tree tops. I like to fish a swimbait this way a lot, but I must admit I haven’t had the chance to fish these two particular swimbaits this way. These baits could no doubt be rigged on big jigheads for ledge fishing as well.
Trying one last time to compare apples to apples, here are some things to consider when deciding which of these baits in the 6-inch version to use for what. In heavy cover, the Dangerous Swimbait and Magdraft Freestyle are interchangeable in my opinion, based solely on first impressions. Both baits come in a two pack and are roughly the same price.
When looking at the pre-rigged 6-inch Cull Shad and Magdraft, both are great choices. The Cull Shad is more versatile, with a lighter starting weight and the option of adding nail weights to be able to fish deeper. But the Magdraft is still a fantastic choice, only being considered less than when wanting to fish a bait high in the water column. That’s where the Cull Shad sets itself apart, riding high and true on a slow retrieve.
Sticking with the 6-inch Cull Shad and Magdraft, both these baits are very durable, capable of catching a dozen or more bass. They have uniquely different hook holders, both of which work well. The Cull Shad is considerably more affordable, at $11.99 versus the $14.99 Magdraft. The honey comb structure of the Cull Shad is innovative to say the least, and will likely create a new trend in baits across the lure market depending on how proprietary this feature is.
If you’re looking for the most sizes and rigging options, Megabass has you covered with the Magdraft lineup of baits. If you’re wanting to fish around heavy cover, you’re good with the Daingerous Swimbait or the Freestyle Magdraft. If I had to make a selection on the best all-around bait for a bass fisherman, the 6-inch Cull Shad would be hard to beat. But I’m not getting rid of my Magdrafts either.
When it comes to availability, the Cull Shad will be hard to come by for a while still. Berkley is hoping to have the bait in full stock by June. The Magdrafts and Daingerous Swimbaits are readily available now.
SWIMBAIT SPECIFICATION COMPARISONS
The Megabass Magdraft Swimbaits
- Sizes: 6, 8 and 10-inch
- Weights: 1 1/4, 3, and 6 1/8 ounces
- Colors: Albino Pearl Shad, Ayu, Biwako shad, Brownie, MB Gizzard, MSS, Nude Bass, Nude Rainbow, Perch, Silver Shad, White Back Shad, Baby Bass, MB Shad, Rainbow, Stealth Rainbow, Ghost Shad, Borealis, Pro Blue Chart
- Prices: $14.99, $24.99 and $29.99
- Availability: Tackle Warehouse, FishUSA, Omnia Fishing, Bass Pro, Academy
The Berkley Cull Shad Swimbaits
- Sizes: 6 and 8 inches
- Weights: 1 ounce and 3 ounces
- Colors: 12 colors (hitch, ayu, etc.)
- Prices: $11.99, $14.99
- Availability: June 2023
The Bass Mafia Daingerous Swimbaits
- Sizes: 6- and 7-inch sizes
- Weights: 1 ounce and 1 1/2 ounces
- Colors: Albino, Blackback Shad, Blueback Herring, Chartreuse Blue, Texas Gizzard
- Prices: $13.99
- Availability: Tackle Warehouse, Bass Pro, Omnia Fishing,