Editor’s note: 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of B.A.S.S. As part of our celebration we’re publishing stories, videos and photos about the history of the sport, including the one below.
Introduced in 2002, Reaction Innovation’s Sweet Beaver is truly a milestone in the realm of soft plastic bass lures.
This pioneering bait is the brainchild of Andre Moore, a former bass pro who founded Reaction Innovations.
Moore lived in Arizona when he began tournament fishing seriously in the mid 1990s. He qualified for two Bassmaster Classics, three Forest Wood Cup Championships and pocketed well over $800,000 fishing the two circuits. He did especially well fishing Western waters.
An incurable lure tinkerer, Moore made many of the baits he fished with in tournaments, including soft plastic lures.
“I was tired of walking into tackle stores and seeing nothing new,” Moore said. “Every soft bait on the market had a round, cylindrical body. Most of the prey bass eat are not round like a worm. Bluegill, shad and crayfish have a wide side and a flat side. I was looking for something that had that kind of bulky, compact silhouette.”
Moore’s lure business “started as a garage thing for some side money.” It took him three years to design the 4.2-inch long Sweet Beaver and have a production mold made for it. He knew he had something special when bass eagerly snapped up the new bait.
“I always had good days when I fished with it out in California,” Moore said. “I used prototypes while bed fishing at Lake Okeechobee. I could go behind guys all day that couldn’t get a spawner to bite and catch the bass in five casts with the Beaver.”
In April of 2002 Moore used the Sweet Beaver to win an FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake in Arkansas. It was this victory that gave the lure its name. Later that year Moore released the Sweet Beaver to the public under the Reaction Innovations banner, along with the Boom Boom Tube and Dominator worm. The latter two baits are still in the company’s line.
Despite Moore’s victory with the Sweet Beaver, the bait was slow to catch on.
“Fishermen freaked out when they saw it,” Moore said. “They told me it was never going to sell. They were hesitant to even try it. It looked too different from the worms and tubes they were used to throwing. At the time I didn’t care because I liked having my own secret bait.”
Sales of the Boom Boom Tube financed Moore’s lure company for the first few years. Throughout that time the Sweet Beaver gradually caught on with bass anglers across the country. Soon after this the demand for the Beaver exploded. Sales got an extra boost after Moore used the Beaver to win his second FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake in 2005. By this time he had introduced the 3.5-inch Smallie Beaver.
That same year Moore moved his business to Alabama to be closer to the company that was molding his soft plastic baits. When the company was unable to keep up with his orders, Moore invested in his own plastic molding machines in 2010.
“It was the best thing I ever did,” Moore said.
By 2013 Moore had to step away from fishing professionally to keep up with the demands of running his lure business. Today, it is a rare bass angler who doesn’t have a stash of Sweet Beavers or some of the lure’s countless knockoffs in his boat. Despite the competition, the demand for the original Sweet Beaver remains high.
“The baits that kind of look like the Beaver don’t have our special plastic formulations and salt combinations,” Moore said. “Because they don’t have an understanding of why I designed the bait like I did their baits are missing some key features.”
One key feature, Moore pointed out, is the forward angle of the Beaver’s ribs. Besides moving water, the ribs hold the bait in mouth of a bass so the hook drives through the plastic during the hook set. This ensures fewer missed strikes. Moore also mentioned the unique manner in which the Beaver glides and settles.
The Double Wide Beaver and Kinky Beaver are newer additions to Reaction Innovation’s line, which includes a host of other soft plastic baits as well as the Swamp Donkey hollow frog and the Vixen, a 3/4-ounce hard plastic topwater stickbait.
Over the past year, Moore’s competitive juices have begun to flow again. He has started fishing local events near home and often partners with his wife, Kim Bain-Moore, who was the first woman to compete in the Bassmaster Classic. She qualified for the 2009 Classic by winning the 2008 Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year title.