The final touches

Last week we designed new lures. This week we'll test and tweak them.

As soon as I have a first-generation bait I head toward the water. As much as I admire the skill and expertise of lure designers, there's no test in the world that's as effective as real-world fishing.

I start by tossing it around in the water. I'm not fishing. I'm trying to get a good look at what the bait looks like under natural conditions and how it reacts to things. If I catch a fish that's fine, but it's not my goal. My goal is to test it.

Depending upon what type of lure it is I'll mess with it using different types of tackle under different conditions. The testing process is brutal. Either it does its job or it doesn't. No mercy.

This is where a lot of guys make a mistake. They don't spend enough time learning the characteristics of their lures. That's a serious mistake.

There's no way you can choose the right lure unless you know how everything in your box performs. It's just not possible. Now I'm not talking about technical scientific measurements. You don't need to know exactly how fast a bait drops in feet per second on a certain type of line, but that never hurts, either.

What you do need is a sense of what it's doing. Does it drop fast and hard, slow and easy, or does it drift down toward the bottom? What about how it shakes or wiggles as it falls? Will it hop or swim properly or do whatever else it's supposed to do? All this information is critical to your fishing success. Spend some time learning. In fact, we should never stop learning.

That's what I'm looking for during the testing process with a new lure. If it doesn't look right under certain conditions, I'll make minor changes to the design and send it back to the factory to have those changes made professionally. When they return it to me, I'll test it again.

When all that's done, I'll fish with it. Again, we'll ship it back and forth depending upon what I find. Sometimes we get a final product in a week or two. Other times, that process can take months. When all is said and done, we'll have a lure that performs in a fish catching manner — one that I can honestly recommend to you.

The process is tough but there's no other way to get it right. And I've told you before, I won't put my name on anything that's not first-class. I like money as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of other anglers.

Next time we'll talk about specific lure choices and techniques for cold-water fishing. We have a long winter season coming up. Let's make it productive.

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