My first experience with balsa crankbaits was a Bagley balsa crankbait from the ’70s. It was one of the things I pulled from the tacklebox my dad used for years. I am really not sure how long I had it (or he had it), no idea when I lost it, but I do remember the feel and action of that bait. It was an older fire tiger colored Bagley lure and it worked well.
I was fishing from an old jon boat at Wells Creek in the fall, chunking the bait along a drop off that had a line of stumps. I really didn’t know much about crankbaits, but I felt that the fire tiger should work in the slightly stained water. I had watched enough fishing shows to believe that I should toss the bait past the targets, then run it into the stumps; after contact, to pause. Several casts into the morning, I felt the bait hit a stump – stopped the retrieve – and BAM; my first balsa crankbait fish.
Balsa Crankbaits | It’s All About Quality Material
I had no idea how they were made, nor did I think much about it. I was certain that the bait felt of a much higher quality than anything available at the time… and that was good. Add to the initial appeal of the vibrant colors, the action of the bait – the unique wobble and feel of balsa – and even my limited knowledge of the crankbait world knew it was special. And that opinion has not changed after all of these years.
When you bump a balsa lure against an object and pause it, the more natural action of the balsa just seems to trigger the fish to strike. The baits also (maybe just my perception) seem harder to shake. Those big heavy plastic baits are often tossed out of the mouth of a fighting bass, but the lighter natural consistency of the balsa just seems to make that more difficult for an angry fish to get loose.
Balsa’s secret may be in the natural buoyancy of the hardwood.
It allows baits crafted from the wood to cast easily, but “floats” up faster than plastic baits with equal weight. This attribute makes it one of the most effective materials for creating lures that mimic a stunned baitfish. When you slam it into structure and stop, the bait will start drifting toward the surface; clearing the structure and driving predators crazy. This is what makes it the perfect fall crankbait!
Through the years, the lures are named a little differently… the process of manufacturing the baits has changed (in case you are interested click here)… and more options are available; but some things have not changed. The feel and action of these crankbaits are still the best on the market.
They still can flat trigger strikes if fished in the right conditions.
Bagley makes lures for about every species, now including non-balsa offerings that are made with the same quality that has become a part of the brand. I suggest you pick one up and see for yourself. They are definitely worth a look, and would be a welcome addition to any angler’s gear.
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