Just when I thought the world couldn’t get any crazier, here comes the LiveTarget BaitBall. At first, I thought this was a carefully crafted ICAST hoax, something to brighten the spirits of those in Las Vegas. I mean, really, who could look at this “concept” lure, listen to the exaggerated claims and reach the conclusion that, yes, I will spend $16.99 on a clear plastic art project?
Apparently, three groups in particular: The deranged people who voted this farce as ICAST’s “Best of Show” Hard Lure, social media anglers who are just all atwitter over the prospect of emptying their bank accounts on sheer goofiness and so-called outdoor writers to can’t help but gush over a tired, largely disproven theory.
What’s that you say? This is cutting edge stuff! It’s a thing within a thing. Heck, it’s two or three things with a thing! Why would any company go to all this trouble if their crankbait-as-baitfish theory wasn’t valid?
Honestly, I’m a little mystified myself. I’ve thrown a few LiveTarget baits and, judging from the rest of their lineup, one might assume these guys had a pretty firm grip on reality. Short of communal dementia, and as long as everyone is tossing out theories now, here’s my guess: LiveTarget has scored ICAST Best of Show Awards consecutively since 2010 and maybe they figured that without some over-the-top effort in 2013, they were in danger of wearing out their welcome. The real danger, as I see it, is the damage this BaitBall lunacy will do to their credibility.
The leap of faith necessary in swallowing the BaitBall concept is this: Bass don’t hit individual baitfish; they hit groups of baitfish. Their designers tell us “We’ve had it all wrong.” That somehow “the cubic mass of a large crankbait resembles a smaller group of three to five baitfish”. Okay, maybe. But what they don’t go on to explain is how they can be so sure that bass will (1) Clearly identify three little minnows held inside the larger, standard profile of a fish-like crankbait (2) Recognize all this with water rushing past and light reflecting everywhere and (3) Respond to it better than any crankbait ever designed in the history of mankind.
Oh sorry, I forgot. Dave Mercer, a LiveTarget pro, told me in the company video that he knows what bass are thinking. Like those television evangelists who have a direct line to God, he knows that bass perceive the shape of a crankbait not as a single minnow, but a densely packed group of baitfish. Forgive me if I have to pause for a moment so my Purell shower can wash away the snake oil.
The guys I really feel sorry for are David Walker and Stephen Browning. They too appear in this bizarre video, yet never once utter any direct statements regarding their experience or success with the lure. This is where sponsored pros walk the thin razor’s edge between a paycheck and integrity. Mercer, it appears, has no such qualms. In the video, he releases a smallmouth in stormy-looking weather and is more than happy to exclaim “If you can catch fish in these conditions, look out!” You mean, windy, overcast crankbait conditions?
The sad truth is this “revolutionary” concept has already been done. Perhaps not quite to such an incredibly ridiculous extent, but with everything from holographic images to foil inserts. As recently as 2012, a custom lure designer from Virginia – Kenneth Rollston of Twisted Customz – designed a remarkably similar lure, one with some intensely realistic representations of multiple shad within a clear-bodied crankbait. Oh yeah, that’s right, LiveTarget made the point in their ICAST propaganda that the concept has reportedly been in development for over four years. Well, sorry to let you boys in on something, but somebody thought of it – 99 years ago. Try Googling “Detroit Glass Minnow Tube” and you’ll see an eerily similar “concept” created well before the days of plastic injection molding. I’m relatively sure it didn’t catch on.
Also, isn’t it a bit coincidental that a multiple-baits-within-a-bait crankplug emerges right on the heels of the A-rig success? Are we to believe that nowhere in the BaitBall marketing plan was any reference to the incredible response from anglers to the multi-bait approach? Apparently, the LiveTarget designers do their work in a remote mountain laboratory, insulated from any outside influences from the crass marketplace below.
And, when will we hear from the Einsteins over at PAA? If the multiple bait theory is so unbelievably effective, this new crankbait should soon be squarely in their gun sights. If one is to believe the LiveTarget claims, the pillage and plunder of our bass fisheries is sure to follow. Not to mention the sheer unfairness this lure will bring to competitive angling - yet another bitter pill for the fine and unselfish PAA brotherhood.
For the record, I have nothing against LiveTarget. I use some of their lures. But like Mr. T, I “pity the fool” who relies on gimmicks for angling success, especially gimmicks that hinge on questionable theory.
Face it, all lures catch fish … some of the time. If the BaitBall is constructed correctly, tracks well, wobbles and darts, it will catch fish. The foolish part comes to those who purchase lures for all the wrong reasons. Then comes the pain.