New product development

Editor's note: Update on Luke Clausen's injury, he is nearing the time where his shoulder sling will be removed and can be examined further with an MRI. His shoulder had to be immobilized for six weeks before they can look for ligament damage. He also has chip fractures in his left hand that should heal with time. He is getting better every day and has spent a few days as a "Marshal" on the water with friends while they fished and he could only watch.

With ICAST coming soon I started to think about some of the great new products that will be unveiled in Orlando. Some of the new things that my sponsors are releasing are things that I have been working with them to develop for a year, two years or sometimes even longer. Working on new products is something that I really enjoy doing and gives me a little pride when I see something we worked so hard on finally shown off to the fishing world. It is one of my favorite parts of being a professional angler.

Testing and refining

What many people don’t realize is how much work and real-world testing goes into the products you use. Sure, some of the baits are just minor modifications to existing products, but often, pro anglers like myself are sent lures and rods to test out that look nothing like they eventually will when they are finished.

For instance, rod companies may send a pile of rods with just sticker labels with numbers on them. We are given very little information on what actions and ratings they have and what techniques they are designed for. We are told just to fish them and give our honest feedback. Many end up making the final cut, but there have been several that I said to my sponsors “this is not a good rod,” or maybe stated not as nicely.

The good news is my sponsors value my opinion and the opinion of other pro anglers and make the adjustments to make sure the product is just right before they are available to buy at Tackle Warehouse. 

There are other times where they will send a pile of hardbaits and have us experiment with different hooks or give us multiple colors and ask for feedback on what colors we think would work best for all of the different waters we encounter on the Elite Series. 

Other times my sponsors will ask us what products they are missing in their lineup. We do our best to only use sponsor products, but if they do not have a magnum deep diving crankbait or big topwater bait we have no choice. This is where our input comes into play and ensures that our sponsors make every type of bait we need and in turn they can offer a complete lineup of products.

A new twist on an old favorite

One product that I have been working on for over a year is a new spinnerbait for Z-Man. It is something that I have put countless hours into, and I can now truly call myself an expert in every single blade size and configuration in existence. I made trips to the lake in cold weather throwing only an unpainted spinnerbait body and swapped blades in the rain until it was perfect. It is a labor of love and something that I really have a passion for. I am always looking for the best products available to help me catch more fish, and there is no better way to do that than experimenting on the water. 

I also made sure that the skirt materials, colors and head design all worked together to make this the best spinnerbait I have ever used. This is one product I really can’t wait to show off.

This year’s ICAST show will have the bass world’s entire focus. Each year some of the best and most innovative products come out at that show, and I am always looking forward to seeing the new trends in the industry. Keep an eye on the ICAST coverage on Bassmaster.com and just know that all of the new products have been tested and refined for some time to help you catch more fish.