champlainbaits

Design Theory

16 posts in this topic

Folks out there spend a lot of time thinking about design theory when it comes to their lures or are most trying to either copy a commercial pattern or make a bait that is photo-real?

I'm asking because I think there is a lot of room for new patterns but don't really see too many I think of as "new".

Here's a quick run down of some of my thoughts (you can tell me later if you care at all :)

I created my kivveylicious and perchinator patterns for a specific purpose. To catch big largemouth, smallmouth and pike out of the clear water areas of lake Champlain. Because I was focusing on clear water areas I started by designing patterns that are on the photo-real side because the fish can see a long way in malletts bay. I didn't just create baits that look like a sunfish or a perch though I spent a lot of time working out what I consider to be THE key when it comes to lure design. CONTRAST. Sunfish and perch were designed by higher powers to blend into their environment. I don't want my lure hiding from the fish so once I had a nice pattern that looked like the fish I saturated the colors and gave the edges harder lines to create contrast where there is none in the real fish. I use a very thick (by traditional standards) black line for the back because I believe that preditor fish use the mirror of the water surface to target prey. Black stands out very well against that surface so I really make that prominent. The sides are meant to look like prey as much as possible while also standing out. I use a combination of photo real textures and stark graphical shapes (eyes, gills and black tail) to create a bait fish imitator that stands out against the weed lines I troll them by, the surface I twitch them on and the bottoms I bounce the off.

This is just one example of what I'm talking about. I also created a super simple pattern last year that was just 2 colors. I made the prototype with nail polish in about 10 mins. I had and idea...based on something I noticed on the water...later that night made the prototype and the next day was hammering fish on it. It's not an exaggeration to say that I caught three bass on the first 3 casts with that pattern. I've never seen anything like it in stores (or anywhere else) I don't think I could convince any but the most experienced anglers to buy it...but it's catching fish better than any crankbait I've used.

So that said...I'm really curious if anyone out there has a process for coming up with a new pattern and is willing to discuss. I think there is a lot of opportunity for expansion...and I think that's where we all are most valuable to the fishing community.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Best of luck,

Kevin Braun

Champlain Bait Co.

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I have been thinking about the aspect of fish being conditioned to seeing the same old thing every company makes . I am going outside the box with color while using proven lure body styles . If that doesn't work I'll try a more traditional approach.

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I think there are unlimited directions one can take in designing crankbaits and all are right if they catch fish. It certainly sounds as if you have found a design mix that works great in the specific water and fishing circumstances that you design your baits for. I think most of us try do the same.

Here in the south, there is probably less variety in prey species (especially forage fish) than in northern waters, and the water tends to be more stained. Largemouth dominate and are preferentially targeted. Logically, most crankbaits are designed to catch largemouth in stained water environments. Color pattern is about approximating one of the three main southern prey species: Threadfin shad, crawfish, and sunfish. Contrast, reflectivity and naturalistic colors are not insignificant but are not emphasized over other attributes like dive depth, size, shape, and bait action. Then, you have to overlay practical crankbait mechanics over the attraction elements if you want a good bait. It has to cast well to the distances it will be fished. It has to come through the cover through which it will be retrieved, it has to hook bass well, and it should be durable enough to survive fishing abuse. That's quite a list of design elements and a lot of choices to make. Personally, I don't sell crankbaits so have no compunction whatever in copying or borrowing design features from very popular and successful commercial baits. But even if I could really "clone" a commercial bait (I can't, and don't believe anyone else can either), I'm always tinkering to get a bait that emphasizes the design characteristics I think are most important in the water I fish and my style of fishing.

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I can only second the stats of VermontPhisher and BobP , I do aggree with all of them !

Considering the learning effect of fish upon lures a Belgian friend told me years ago , that in the Netherlands(lots of pike there , releasing essential)they had observed that pike would go for certain lure models or colors during the fresh new season , but do ignore these very lures , as the season proceeds or latest during the next one , ........so the anglers would constantly have to come up with different lures and/or colors to prove to be good catchers .

Off course this "lure type and pattern switching cycle" would turn out repeatative through a period of several years , I believe !

And it is also often recommended to fish different patterns and styles compared to all the other guys by the lakeside , I also see much sense in that ,...... going different to the average in pressured waters is a key to success .

For example , .....since a few years ago I am annealing a few of my homemade polished stainless steel spoons to turn to a purple/brown/dark blue color , these have proven success a couple of times in clearer water , ..........you can't buy spoons in sucha color in shops , there they are all shiny polished or painted .

Don't even think , that many anglers would buy a spoon that is rather dull and dark in color , .......but I know it better ;) !

In less or little pressured waters it won't matter that much , what kinda lure to tie on , ..........fish never made as many bad experiences and are more likely to take a bite on anything"alive" that passes them by !

greetz , diemai :yay:

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This is an interesting topic - In the 50+ years that I've been fishing, one of the observations that I've made is that we tend to give fish too much credit for intelligence/adaptability, etc. These critters are driven almost entirely by instinct/impulse and probably not by any kind of reasoning at all. Being the smartest fish is kinda like being the best-dressed man in Afghanistan. You might be at the top of the heap, but it's not much of a heap. Different species may possess different survival skills and some can be "trained" to respond to certain stimuli in captivity or a controlled situation, but by and large, fish in the wild just follow their genetic survival program. Reliance on limited or non-existent problem-solving skills would ensure extinction of the species in pretty short order. If fish in high-pressure areas seem less likely to strike a lure, I suspect it's a case of there being fewer predators present and less competition for forage. Individuals that are wary and less likely to strike a lure have a decided reproductive advantage over fish that will grab anything in sight, and reproductive advantage is what evolution is all about. Fish that wind up on the grill aren't likely to produce offspring. Species that are easily caught can hang in there by producing huge numbers of young, but other species that lack that survival mechanism are easily wiped out. (brook trout and cutthroat trout are two examples) Given their relatively short lifespans and their lack of what we perceive as intelligence, I doubt that there's much "conditioning" going on, even in areas that are heavily fished. People have been throwing lures at fish for a long time, and we've managed to figure out that there are lures that flat-out don't work, lures that rarely work, and lures that work some of the time. If we had lures that worked all of the time, there wouldn't be any fish left to pursue. Trying to guess which lure works in a given situation is what makes all this interesting, at least for me. Just my $.02 worth.

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Folks out there spend a lot of time thinking about design theory when it comes to their lures or are most trying to either copy a commercial pattern or make a bait that is photo-real?

I'm asking because I think there is a lot of room for new patterns but don't really see too many I think of as "new".

By "new patterns" do you mean lure shape or color? I'm always trying new lure shapes, whether that means a completely new lure body shape or merely moving the line tie up or down on the lure body. I don't often paint the same color pattern more than once; I like trying new patterns too much! :tipsy: One color variation I've been trying lately is to take a color and flip it so the dark side is on the bottom. This would create more contrast and so the bait would be more visible to the fish.

I also created a super simple pattern last year that was just 2 colors. . . I caught three bass on the first 3 casts with that pattern. . . it's catching fish better than any crankbait I've used.

I would be interested in seeing this color. . . :ph34r:

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A couple of comments about contrast - designers simplify bass behavior to make some sense out of what makes fish bite. The current dogma is "feeding bite" versus "reaction bite". A feeding bite lure is as naturalistic as possible (usually implying less contrast), hoping the bass will bite because it closely resembles what they are actively feeding on. A reaction bite lure is as contrasty and visible as possible, hoping it will trip the reaction bite urge from a neutral or negative fish. This probably over-simplifies nature but is useful for crankbait design simply because it seems to work. Looking at crankbaits used by pro tournament fishermen is interesting. Whatever you think about tournament fishing, those guys fish A BUNCH to make a living and get very sophisticated about crankbait design, including color and contrast. Strike King produces crankbaits in the Sexy Shad pattern. In the last several years, they have come out with 5 or 6 different Sexy Shad patterns tweaked by Kevin Van Dam, and the amount of contrast in the basic Sexy Shad pattern is the variable. It seems to me that most of the variants I've seen are moving toward less contrast than the original Sexy Shad, including one that is translucent. I'm not trying to make a point here, it's just an interesting phenomenon. If I had to guess, I'd say Strike King and KVD are producing variants to look for more feeding bites, which undoubtedly fill a livewell faster than reaction bites. I fish a reservoir that's clear by southern standards (5-7 ft visibility) and doesn't have much grass. I catch more bass there with naturalistic patterns like the foil/gray back example below. But when I go to Canada and fish lakes with lots of grass, lures with maximum contrast like the Firetiger example catch more fish for me. I deduce that high contrast patterns do best when fished around grass where bass have limited visibility. Maybe I'm missing a design factor, maybe I'm misinterpreting nature, I don't know. But it works for me to catch bass and have fun.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

I was mostly referring to the color "patterns" on the baits but I am also interested in new shapes. I am working on a couple at the moment but for this topic I am mostly curious about colors etc.

Another example of this would be looking at mother natures work to see how she does it. Most people think of this as camouflage but for animals that WANT to be seen looking at their patterns can really help inspire patterns no one has ever seen before. I created a "parrot" pattern that way that works very well on pike here. It looks like nothing that swims and has purples pinks and bright greens/blues....The idea being that if a parrot can be seen at a distance against the green forest backdrop maybe a parrot colored lure could be seen at a distance against a green weed backdrop.

This may not be the best way to approach it but I'm trying to get folks talking about this because I think we can all learn from each other. I doubt any of us would come up with the same designs so I'm thinking we have a great opportunity to create something original that works better than anything you can buy.

Poisonous animals (snakes frogs etc) really try to stand out. I think they would be another great resource.

Anyone else have thoughts for different approaches to this?

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By "new patterns" do you mean lure shape or color? I'm always trying new lure shapes, whether that means a completely new lure body shape or merely moving the line tie up or down on the lure body. I don't often paint the same color pattern more than once; I like trying new patterns too much! :tipsy: One color variation I've been trying lately is to take a color and flip it so the dark side is on the bottom. This would create more contrast and so the bait would be more visible to the fish.

I would be interested in seeing this color. . . :ph34r:

I caught a big leach when swimming with my son. It was dark black with a bright rusty orange belly. A little black and orange nail polish and 10 mins and it was done.

I caught this bass on the first cast with it :) Then went on to catch to more on the next 2 casts. For a couple mins there I was dreaming of winning the classic on it :) Then reality set in and since then it still does better than most but not well enough to win the classic with my lack of talent.

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I think alot of patterns are misinterpreted. With varying daylight conditions and light penetration, colors can kind of change underwater. Chartruse is a big one. When the clouds are out or the morning or choppy conditions, it appears more of a white than a yellow. Black and blue jigs i think follow the same principles. These colors can appear in different shades under different lights. I know a bass's eyes can recieve a ton more light than humans.. but I have witnessed these changes first hand just by diving in. Purple jigs work great especially on deeper points out here in Cali.. but as the light penetration becomes less and less the deeper you go the hue of your bait starts to change. I mean Purple and Brown jig and pig? Thats not natural.. but man does it work in clear water. Has a stark contrast in hand but 40ft down this difference starts to fade. I do agree with the contrasting baits working well amongst grass and cover.. firetiger is great out here on the delta and it under utilized in favor of a "natural" pattern of delta craw, but it still WHACKS em. Also I grew up in SoCal and i used to throw firetiger cranks on rip rap in Lake Perris and it was just stupid! but people would see my bait and say "hey kid, gotta throw something more natural".. little did they know. I dont know if it was contrast to other baits they had seen or it stood out among the rocks but it worked. Just like an all PINK spinnerbait works.. couldnt tell you why but it does. If i was hungryand hadnt eaten all day

I wouldnt care if that doughnut was plain, chocolate, or purple with green spots... im eating that thing before it gets away, no doubt

My .02

Ceaser

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My background is game management, a strong interest in sport fisheries, but I am not employed in that field. I am always looking at fish behaviors and how to address them, just my interests is all.

I create lures to do new and different things or modify existing patterns to work differently to address actions I want to put in front of the fish. To learn how to work soft plastics is what brought me to TU and the members have taught me volumes! Nothing more satisfying that taking a trophy on your own creation. Like deer hunting successfully with a custom rifle you have built and hand loaded ammunition.

I have on several occasions cut up commercially available lures and pieced the pieces back into something new and different. From that I made molds.

I have one pattern right now that works very well on pike. It exploits a large profile, erratic action, up and down undulation, the common actions of a jerk bait and a bright color that works very well in the local area I fish. So that is a custom lure that does something unique.

I have worked out other unique systems for other species in the past.

There are two soft plastics, a swim bait and a jerk bait, in my arsenal that are mostly copies of commercial lures. But I strengthened the weak spots and make it in colors that the makers do not sell. So that is kind of a hybrid answer to your question.

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I think more so than color the action gets the fish to strike. In some cases color can have an effect on fish but overall if something looks like its food a fish will eat it. Just my two cents

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Personally I don't like the match the hatch theory and I'm not good enough with the airbrush to pull it off. I want my baits to stand out from the crowd. I paint mostly simple 3 and 4 color combo patterns and these work very well for my customers.

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I don't usually try to paint extremely detailed baits, mainly because I use rattle cans and so it's much more difficult to do a very detailed paint job. For the most part, I focus on bright colors (or trying to fix a paint job I messed up :wacko:) or whatever I think will look cool on the bait. Unfortunately, the fish don't always agree with me on what looks good :rolleyes:.

That leech pattern looks good, I may have to try something like that.

Ben

Edited by Fishwhittler

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I have just been painting for a little while but when I was messin around trin to learn how I painted a med diver purple that ran because I did not know how to use the airbrush then painted over the bottom with orange but you could still see wher it ran. Everyone wanted that ugly thing so my first tourney of the year I figured why not and could not believe I had four fish in less than an hour. So now I am tring to make it and did fished the last tourney and cought two fish in the first two cast then broke it off at the boat on a smallie. Next time I go out I will have a botu five of these still won but on a spinner not cranking.

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