Author: Rob Belloni
Well gang this is going to be my worst overview and history section yet because frankly I don't have a lot of details. I received this bait as a gift from a friend in Japan. It came in a box with no information in English and as I recall he said it was called the FW Bluegill. The lure also has the words "T.P. Bait" on the back of the lure but my searches for those names online have come up empty. In any case, the lure is exactly 5" long and weighs exactly 2oz. The body appears to be composite (I dug into it in the tail joint to check) and the tail is aluminum. The hardware is premium and the hooks are Owner stingers
This is a very unique bait and I really have no other lures to make a comparison to. There is a smaller Lucky Craft bait called the Real Vib that looks similar but is more of a true rattletrap. Lobina makes the Flat Jack which has a similar shape but is more of a surface/dog walking bait. This lure does move like a rattletrap, but it's shaped like a chunky bluegill and it has no internal rattles. The metal tail looks like something from I.T.O Engineering and offers some clinking noise on the retrieve but it is a quiet bait overall. You can twitch the bait but the natural retrieve is a straight wind whereupon the lure will dive from 1-3 feet. It doesn't shake your rod tip like a trap does either, its just a tight wobble with very slight side to side action.
The construction of the FW Bluegill is solid and well thought out. The first thing that signaled to me that someone had put a lot of thought into this bait was when I noticed that front hook is only ½" from the nose of the lure. Clearly this lure was designed by someone who knows how bass eat bluegill - headfirst! It warms my heart when lure makers buck traditions (like hook placement) and make baits that match up with the reality of how fish act. Bluegill baits are by nature bad for hookup and landing ratios but I'm confident that a good percentage of bites will stick and find their way to the net with this lure.
The aluminum tail is secured with two small nails, pushed in at a slight angle and through a rectangular slot in the tail piece then into the opposite side of the body of the bait. This seems a little hokey but it allows the tail to kick side to side and also to move up and down. I think the idea here is to have a very durable tail and give the bait some flash so although I'm not ecstatic about the tail in general, I can appreciate the concept. The good thing about a metal tail is that you have a virtually maintenance free lure and you generate a light metallic tinkling noise. From an overall durability standpoint, I could see catching 50-100 fish on this bait with no issues.
The detail on the FW bluegill is excellent, and the fact that the paint varies slightly from one side of the bait to the other tells me that the baits are airbrushed by hand. I especially liked the way this particular color pattern is blended to look natural without any jarring contrasts. The shaping of the head is not spot on bluegill but it gives the general impression of gills and mouth and although the overall profile is a bit fatter than most bluegills, I don't think the fish will be holding any protest signs having to swallow something a little fatter than the real thing.
For as many unique and well thought out details are incorporated into this lure, there are also a few perplexing details. The first was the alignment of the screw eyes on the bottom of the lure. Typically screw eyes run parallel to the body of the lure so as to catch less weeds and to offer more balanced alignment of the treble hook. With the FW Bluegill, the screw eyes are perpendicular to the body of the bait which means that no matter which way you put the treble hook on the split ring, the hooks will not be balanced. It doesn't affect the action of the lure but it may affect the outcome when a fish strikes the bait from the wrong side and two of the prongs are facing away from the fish. No other lures do this so I can't rationalize why the screw eyes are done this way.
The other thing that stood out to me when I tested the bait was the silver tail. For whatever reason many of the true Japan baits incorporate a mechanical look and feel to them. The technical looking baits remind me of my Megabass drop shot rod which is just covered with colored metals and machined components to the point where the rod starts to feel like some kind of fashion statement. That's cool by me for a fishing rod but on a lure I'm not trying to impress the fish with machined parts, I'm trying to get bit. If the tail was painted a pale yellow like the belly of the bait I feel like it would look much more natural.
Overall I believe this bait will find its way in to my tackle box on certain occasions, probably around grass or in shallow areas where I feel like fish are on a bluegill pattern or a general crankbait pattern. This could be just the thing to get that bigger 5lb+ bite in a tournament situation or to trophy hunt with on those rare occasions when double digit bass are actively pursuing bluegill in the shallows. I also feel some night possibilities with this lure even though it doesn't make much noise. In 10+ visibility at night, the realistic silhouette should have good potential.
PS - Drop me a note if you have any more details on the manufacturer for this one.