This bluegill is the second bluegill that Rago baits has released as the ‘Rago Bluegill’ and it basically replaces the earlier version. This version was released in the spring of 2006 and weighs in at approximately 2oz. There are two versions, a top hook version that comes with a 5/0 Owner hook and a belly hook version that comes stock with a #1 Owner ST-36 Stinger treble. There are currently four color variations out there. One is a violet version and one is a blue version. Both are available with a male bluegill pattern option that basically involves a splash of orange on the chin. There will be a Redear color available in the near future. Both hook options retail for approximately $18.
Whenever I look at a new fishing lure I consider my very first impression of it carefully because so many times a first impression is the most accurate. When I looked at this bait my first impression was “profile”. This bluegill imitator has a great profile that really matches up with the true shape of a small bluegill. The pointed nose, the spiked ray on the anal fin, and the eye placement are all very accurate. When a bass rushes up on your lure, it makes a snap judgment too, and I think that a lot of fish are going to see the profile of this bait from a distance and really be lured in by it.
In the past many of the Rago baits came with VMC or Mustad hooks. Decent hooks but 9 times out of 10 I wound up replacing them. I was pleased to see that these baits come stock with premium hooks that don’t need replacing. On the top hook version I liked how the hook was partially hidden inside the top fin and positioned in such a way that if you close your hand over the nose of the bait like a fish’s mouth would close over it, you immediately feel the hookpoint as you draw the lure forward.
Color wise I like the options available though it wouldn’t hurt to have a few other patterns. What I like about the colors is that they incorporate a lot of natural shades and hues. A lot of lures when you put them underwater tend to stick out visually, in a way that makes them look unnatural. When you throw the Rago Bluegill you’ll see that it blends right in to most underwater environments. Real bluegill are the same way, they don’t want to stick out to predators, they want to match their coloration to the natural browns, greens, yellows, and oranges found underwater. Bluegill will get some bright colors during their spawn but those aren’t typically your small 3 to 4” bluegill, they’re your larger models that bass don’t typically eat.
If you’re wondering what the action is like on the Rago Bluegill, it might not be what you would expect. The plastic on this bait is quite stiff and the action is very tight to the point where the lure is practically vibrating on the retrieve. With the belly hook version, the nose of the bait tends to ride up on a slow retrieve with the tail buzzing along briskly and pointing slightly down. The top hook version runs level and sinks with a more nose first attitude. These baits are medium sinkers and I’d estimate they fall about 8-10” per second. This is definitely a lure with cast and retrieve options and I have no doubt that folks all around the country will catch a lot of 3-6 pound bass on this lure not to mention the occasional giant. There is a certain intangible quality to some lures that just make them fishable, and the Rago Bluegill feels very fishable from the moment you pick it up and make the first cast.
The other thing you are probably wondering is; what are the bed fishing applications for this bait? And I’ll you that this is definitely a bait you want to try on the beds. It’s a hard bait to see on the bed so you might be fishing blind or using it in situations where the water is extremely clear but what’s cool about the Rago Bluegill is that you can toss it out, work it quickly through the bed, then get it right back in there ASAP. A lot of the other bluegill baits on the market sink slowly and fish slowly but this is one where you can really sink it out and work it, jig it, pop it and move it fast. The bottom hook version will hang up on the bottom if there’s weeds or logs but the top hook version is pretty easy to work through and around obstacles. I’m hearing a lot of good stuff about this bait on the beds already so if you’re into sight fishing, put one in your box and give it a go.
As far as durability goes, this is a solid performer. I mentioned that the plastic is stiff and along with stiffness comes durability. On the old Rago Bluegill, especially in the large size, you’d get tearing around the nose and the eyelet on the belly but with this one it’s very solid. I’d expect to get 10-15 fish per bait with this lure and perhaps more if they’re swallowing it good. If a lure can hit the $1 a fish mark I figure it’s doing pretty darn good and this one comes close.
I talked about first impressions in the Pro’s and one of my other first impressions with this bait was that I could see the lead weight in the belly pretty clearly even without a light behind the bait. When you put the Rago Bluegill in the water on a bright sunny day the light really shines through the bottom half of the bait and the weight harness in there just looks kind of odd. I’m not sure how that could be worked around but it just doesn’t look quite right to me.
Another problem I observed with this bait was that of my 3 sample baits, two of them did not swim perfectly straight. With the belly hook version you can simply reposition the hook to get it going straight but with the top hook version it’s a difficult lure to tune. I talked with Jerry Rago about this and he said he believes that his second batch of production may have had some inconsistencies but he’s confident that it will be worked out. For bed fishing this isn’t an issue but for cast and retrieve fishing it was disappointing to get baits that didn’t swim straight.
My final comment in the cons is the hook setups. I’d really like to see an option to add an additional hook on the top hook model either behind the top hook or on the belly. My experience with hooking big bass on single top hook baits like this is that if they jump and get completely airborne they often times can twist and get away. A second hook isn’t always needed on a relatively small lure like this but it sure is nice to have the option.