The rush to ICAST

Getting a product ready for ICAST can take months or years. First there's the design element — filling an angling need with something that does the job well or better or less expensively than anything else out there.

Then there's testing — field work where the item is put into the hands of people who will use it under ordinary or extraordinary fishing conditions, making sure it performs as planned and tweaking any areas that underperform.

The marketing folks have to get involved, too — helping to determine how many sizes and colors will be offered, what the prices will be and what the packaging will look like.

Finally, there's "the launch," the formal introduction of the product at a trade show, on a television commercial or perhaps in an ad in a magazine or on the web.

So, as you can see, the process can take years in some cases (like for big ticket items with lots of moving parts) or months (with most lures) … or merely days.

Like with the new B.A.N.G. Shad Buffet from TTI-Blakemore.

You know TTI-Blakemore for their extensive line of hooks, the Road Runner, Reel Magic and a bunch of other baits and terminal tackle items. Last year alone, they sold 2.8 million Road Runners.

But if T.J. Stallings (in charge of "Marketing & Crazy Ideas" at the company) is right, you'll soon know the company for the B.A.N.G. Shad Buffet, a bait that features dual Road Runners on a spinnerbait-style frame and an action sure to impress.

"The B.A.N.G. Shad Buffet came about less than a month ago," Stallings says. "I got a package of baits from my friend Robin Shiver at Bass Assassin. They were his new B.A.N.G. Shad lures."

The B.A.N.G. Shad baits he's talking about are 2-inch swimbaits with paddle tails and a unique double-triangle body. The head of the bait has a triangle shape where one pointed side runs straight down. In the paddle tail portion, one pointed side goes straight up. Run it through the water and the small bait has big action.

Put two of them on the same frame — ala the B.A.N.G. Shad Buffet — and all heck breaks loose.

"I put them on the frame and cast it out and just said 'Wow!'," Stallings says, though he admits his actual reaction was more colorful and less printable. "The baits were working in rhythm, but almost fighting against each other. It makes the frame rock back and forth and acts like nothing else on the market."

In less than a day, Stallings had his design. When he and his brother Ron (also with TTI-Blakemore) took the bait out for some field testing, they caught bass and crappie.

It worked! Now all they had to do was convince company owner Wes Campbell that it would be worth changing gears with their ICAST preparations and try to get the new lure ready for the show.

"Wes wasn't excited about the timing at first," Stallings said. "He's the realist in our group and put up a bit of a fight at first, but he admitted that the B.A.N.G. Shad Buffet looked good, and I gave him one to try. Later that night he called me at home and said, 'We're doing this!'"

The trio then sat down for a couple of hours to pick out the colors and sizes of the new bait. They decided on 11 colors and a single size — the top Road Runner head weighs 1/16-ounce. The lower head is heavier at 1/8-ounce to keep the bait properly keeled. All totaled, the bait weighs 1/4-ounce.

When it came to packaging, Stallings gave Campbell two options: red and blue.

"I liked the red one," Stallings said, but I knew Wes would go the other way, and I said to him, 'Go ahead and tell me you like blue better'."

The packaging will be blue.

Right now, there are only about 120 B.A.N.G. Shad Buffets in the entire world — all at the ICAST show in Las Vegas to show to buyers and media.

Was it worth the blood, sweat and tears it took to get the baits ready for the show? Time will tell, but Stallings has good early reviews.

"Our major customers really like it and are placing some big orders," he says. "When the fishing world sees it in action, they're going to love it!"

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