Even before I put it in the water, the first Platinum Sunfish I picked up really caught my eye because of the perfect shape. Most bluegill imitators sacrifice lure shape in order to achieve swimming action, but Castaic has really nailed the lure shape with this Sunfish. In all regards, the lure is shaped exactly like a real bluegill or redear. The detail in the molds is spectacular and accurate down to the scales, lateral line, and individual fin rays. I absolutely love the shape of this lure.
In the water I continued to be impressed. Scratch that, I was blown away by the way this bait swam. The second the Sunfish hit the water it started swimming with a soft, wriggling action. I crawled the bait, I burned the bait, I waked the bait, it looked perfect in all regards. The fins are thin enough that they start to ripple as the lure picks up speed. It's the kind of lure that you could reel by your partner when he wasn't paying attention and he'd think it was a real fish.
I'm unclear at the moment about what color options are available, however I have seen three colors and imagine that there are several more. The bluegill pattern featured above is painted perfectly and looks terrific in sunlight or shade. Subtle blue pearl highlights are mixed in the generally gray body and are highlighted perfectly with orange and green paint. When you look at the lure from underneath it is transparent enough to give it the perfect illusion of life. My hat is off to Castaic for the paint jobs on this bait.
The Platinum Sunfish may look like a lure that would be hard to hook fish on, however the body is actually quite soft. Bass should have no problem inhaling this lure in a way that causes the lure to fold up as it goes in to the fish's mouth. All of the reports I've heard on this bait indicate that hooking and landing the fish is not an issue, so despite the overall size of the lure, I don't see the Sunfish as a bait that is going to require a trap hook in most situations.
I can't pass judgment on the Treble Claw hook yet, having not hooked enough fish to make a conclusive statement, but the concept seems sound and the hooks themselves are decently sharp. With the red hook you may want to run a file over it to remove some of the red paint on the tip, but don't sharpen it too hard, just run the file lightly. The split ring on the Sunfish is a heavy duty type ring and should be fine for most applications.
When I think about the Sunfish from the standpoint of your average consumer, the word that keeps coming to mind is, "tragic". The reason that word comes to mind is because of the durability of the bait, and the changes that were made to the lure in it's second generation as a result. Specifically, in the first generation of baits the joints were so fragile that they tore apart with very little stress. I talked to several people who reported getting a nice fish on the Sunfish only to have it rip in half during the fight with the bass. My first Sunfish died when I snagged a tully and pulled on the snag. The lure broke apart right down the middle of the foam head and all I got back was a 3/4" piece of head. I was stunned to see that the hook section was detached from the line tie completely. If that had been a big bass pulling hard, I would have lost not only the back half of the lure, but the fish also.
In response to the durability problems, Castaic used a piece of mesh running through the center of the lure to help keep it together. I haven't spent enough time with this mesh version to see how the mesh affected durability, but the side effect of the mesh in the lure is that the beautiful swimming action is dampened and dramatically affected at slow speed. My mesh Sunfish look perfect on a medium to fast retrieve but the slow speed option is gone. The baits simply slide off to the side and lose traction through the water when you crawl them. I was so excited to get these mesh baits but so disappointed when the swim was not the same. I also found that on several baits, the magnets fell out immediately. I can use superglue as good as the next guy but it would be so nice if the magnets would just stay in stock.
So I chose the word tragic to describe the bait because here is a lure with such tremendous potential, such perfect craftmanship and action and yet it is flawed in ways that make it a poor choice for your average fisherman who cannot afford to burn $17 on one or two bass, or who wants to fish the bait slowly and perfectly like the original baits were designed.
I give Castaic a ton of credit for designing this bait and I hope that when all is said and done the bugs can be worked out to yield a bait with epic action and reasonable durability.