Sometimes You Get What You Pay For

Stephen Headrick

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

Recently a fisherman sent me an e-mail asking if I thought the high-dollar hard baits are worth their $15-plus price tags. I thought I'd answer him here rather than send a personal reply.

In a word, "yes." I think a lot of those high-dollar baits are absolutely worth every penny they ask for them.

I'll admit, though, at first I was more than a little skeptical. After all, when you're used to spending three or four dollars for a lure, $15 or $20 seems like an awful lot of money. And it is, but when you look at the difference between our earlier baits and today's top-of-the-line stuff, you realize that the modern baits are a lot better.

Of course, there's also a part of me that thinks, "Bass have really tiny brains. Can they actually tell the difference between a $2 lure and a $20 lure?"

I think they can.

It starts with the paint jobs. The look of the modern Rapalas, Lucky Crafts and some of the other premier baits we have today is so much sharper and more realistic than what we had just a few years ago, it's amazing. And it just has to mean more fish, especially on the tough days when everything has to be just right to get a strike.

The action on many of these baits is better, too. The weight system in these baits helps them to wiggle and shimmy like nothing that came before. Many have a weight transfer feature that puts the heaviest part of the lure in the tail when you cast — right where you need it to be to make a long, accurate toss.

The hooks are a step up from what came on standard hard baits years ago, too. Most of the hooks on premium baits are really high quality and very, very sharp.

Don't lose sight of the fact that older, cheaper baits will sometimes give you a false sense of economy. But when you take a closer look at what you're getting, you realize that you might be better off spending more money for a lure.

Let's take a look at the average three or four dollar hard bait we used to buy. Many of us still buy them. After all, they still catch lots of bass.

When you get one of these cheaper lures home, the first thing you do is change the hooks on it because the factory installed hooks are often inferior. That costs us not only the price of the new hooks, but also our time. While we're at it, we may even need to change out the split rings or snaps, too.

If we're really hardcore, we then drop the bait in the sink or a bucket of water to see how it's balanced. For jerkbaits or suspending crankbaits, we need to see if it'll suspend properly. If it doesn't, we get out the SuspenDots or lead tape and doctor it up until it works the way it's supposed to work. We may even change the look of the bait with a marker or paint.

Before you know it, we've got some fairly considerable time and hardware invested in this lure that started out being inexpensive.

On the other hand, most of the high dollar baits out there are ready to fish right out of the box. They don't demand any extra tackle from us, and they don't demand any of our time. You can just tie them on and start fishing.

And if they also look better to the fish — and I think they do — that makes paying my hard-earned money even easier.

Of course, you can't buy as many $15 lures as you could buy $3 lures, so you'll have to be careful about where you spend your money. Stick with the baits that look especially good to you (remember that your confidence is truly priceless) or ask area experts what baits and colors work best for them on your home waters.

And remember, it's more about where you cast than what you cast. The best lure in the world can't catch anything if you throw it where there aren't any fish, but the worst lure will probably catch a few bass if you throw it in the best area.

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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