One of the most satisfying parts of our careers has been being able to work closely with companies to research and develop new baits and equipment to help us and other anglers catch more walleyes. Nowhere has that been more satisfying than the work we’ve done with Berkley on the Flicker Shad line of crankbaits. We’ve had our hands in the development of these baits from the very beginning and it’s been a fun and rewarding experience, especially when it comes to catching fish. Especially in the heat of competition, few baits on the market today have had a bigger impact on walleye tournament successes the past couple years than the Berkley Flicker Shad. This past season was certainly no exception.
The two original sizes of the lure (the 5cm and 7cm) have helped anglers all over the country catch walleyes as well as many other species; they are simply great baits. This past year, Berkley released two new sizes in the line, the 4cm and the 6cm. Now you might think just having more sizes of a bait like the Flicker Shad is great, but what we discovered in prototyping and developing these lures is that the size of each bait is only a small part of what makes each lure different from the rest.
In designing crankbaits, getting the lure’s action dialed in is paramount to creating a lure that will attract and catch fish, and there are certainly attributes that can be designed into a bait to make it a better walleye catcher specifically than another lure. For instance, when we went into this past year with the new Flicker Shads in tow, we had a good idea that the smaller 4cm bait was going to be a good choice for spring walleye fishing because it more closely matched the size of the young-of-the-year baitfish the walleyes keyed in on. What we found out in addition to the size advantage was that this little lure has tremendous side flash to it, giving it a lot of attraction capability for such a small package. The side flash comes from the “top-to-bottom” rolling action of a crankbait, and the 4cm size Flicker Shad has the best “roll” of all the baits in this line-up.
Where this little gem really shined for us this past year on the tournament trail was on waters like the St. Mary’s River near Brimley, MI where we trolled these in 3 to 4 feet of water along rock-to-muck transitions. The walleyes were keying on small baitfish, so running the baits back 50 to 60 feet on long rods kept the 4cm Flicker Shads just off the bottom and proved deadly on these early season fish. The smaller 4cm also made a big impression when we took it to the St. Louis River near Duluth, MN to shoot a TV show. We originally went there to fish the “Big Water” for big walleyes, but ended up hammering nice fish in some shallow bays just inside the river – all on the 4cm Flicker Shads. Another scenario where we did real well using the smaller 4cm Flicker Shads was trolling on lead core set-ups. The smaller size of the bait does a nice job of “following” the lead core line as you troll it and vary your depths.
The new 6cm sized Flicker Shad also stands out in a few situations. The 6cm has a slightly more subtle action than the 7cm, and also uses smaller BB’s in its rattle chamber giving it a unique sound and vibration. A real surprise that proved to be of great benefit with this bait was that the 6cm dives a bit deeper and quicker than the 7cm Flicker Shad. This was particularly effective early in the season where we were casting cranks and were able to present a smaller bait (the 6cm more closely matched the size of the baitfish the walleyes were targeting than did the 7cm), but were still able to get the lure down quickly to the fish-zone and keep it there throughout the retrieve even out to 7 feet of water. The 6cm size, like the rest of the Flicker Shad line, also proved deadly in lead core trolling situations.
As with any line on crankbaits, every angler has their pet colors that they develop confidence in. The Flicker Shad line of baits offers fourteen “standard” colors, as well as some killer “store exclusive” colors through Bass Pro Shops, Scheels Sports and Mills Fleet Farm. Top producers for us this past season were the standard colors, Rainbow Trout and Racy Shad as well as our all-time favorite Pearl White (which we refer to as “Mouse” because of its gray back and white belly). The Bass Pro Shop exclusive color of Purple Pearl has also become a strong contender and one we fish quite often.
So basically, what we feel we now have is the most complete line of Shad-style crankbaits available. We can “match the hatch” on most any body of water and each lure, with its little “flicker of a difference”, has its own unique characteristics that can make it stand out as a top producer under certain circumstances. All we as anglers need to do is put in a little time and experimentation to dial in The Next Bite.