Castaic Platinum Gizzard Shad
Author: Rob Belloni
The Platinum Gizzard Shad showed up on the scene in early 2006. This 6" bait is available in two sink rates (fast and slow) and two colors (blue shad and green shad). The fast sink model weighs 1.5oz and slow sinker is just a little lighter. The lures come stock with the Castaic Treble Claw hook in red, and retail for around $14.
Like all of the baits in the Platinum soft series, the Gizzard Shad is super soft and shaped just like the fish it sets out to imitate. When you hold the lure in your hand, it feels soft and wiggly, just like a real fish. In the water, the result is a fluid, dancing action that quivers with every turn of the handle. I've seen fish come up on this bait and track it with that super nervous darting movement that shows how excited they are. What's cool is that once you get a fish on this lure, you can kill it and allow it to fall off to the side with a wounded look that triggers bites. It's a bit like a Sluggo in that regard.
The Treble Claw hook that comes standard on this bait gives more hook point coverage in the area where the fish's mouth is likely to be. I still swap my hook for a #2 or #1 Owner stinger with this bait because it's a sharper hook, and I am not a huge fan of the red hook thing - but the Treble Claw hook is not a bad stock hook when compared to most of what is on the market.
From a fishability standpoint, I'd be inclined to buy only the fast sinking bait. To put it in terms of the R.O.F. system; the fast sinking bait is about an ROF5, meaning that it falls 5 feet in 10 seconds. The slow sinking bait has almost neutral buoyancy and is inclined to run right under the surface. I go with the fast sinker because when I want waking action or barely subsurface retrieve; all I have to do to wake it is hold my rod tip up.
The two available colors are terrific. There is an ultra-fine silver flake in the baits that gives a nice illusion of life. The plastic is not clear, but it has a transparency to it that allows light to pass through the tail and anal fin. And the detail of the mold - wonderful! The baits are accurate down to the most minute detail. Individual rays are articulated in each of the fins. The scales are larger on the side of the body, and smaller along the back. Eye placement is just right, and the head detail is great.
From a hookup ratio standpoint, the Gizzard Shad offers great hookup ratio - if the fish swallows the bait. I don't know if it's a function of where I've used this lure, but I've seen a lot of decent sized 3-5lb bass come up and nip this lure. They are very fond of grabbing the rear half of the bait just behind the hook. If you do get one to swallow it, you should be holding the fish by the jaw shortly because the lures are not very heavy and fish can't throw the single treble easily. I've tried rigging a stinger on the bait, but it kills the action. There's just not enough real estate on the lure to hold a second hook.
When you fish the Gizzard Shad, I would recommend a soft action rod with a long taper. The Okuma 7’11” MH comes to mind as an ideal choice. You also want to go down in line size with the bait to get the best action. 15-20lb test is ideal. 25 just starts to dampen the action too much.
Like its Platinum brethren, the Gizzard Shad suffers from some serious draw backs. The big problems center on durability and construction.
Being excited about the lure when I first saw it - I bought seven. Out of those seven baits, four of them swam well. Two of them were passable as twitch baits but did not swim straight on a normal retrieve. One of them spun in a circle. At $14 apiece, it's tough to stomach the duds. The experiences of my friends who bought the bait mirror mine in that they bought multiple baits and only 60-70% of the baits swam true.
The other issue with the Gizzard Shad is construction. To get the super fluid, lifelike action the baits are made with very soft plastic. The result is that the lures tear in half under very little pressure. It's frustrating as heck when you snag a brand new bait, and it tears in half when you pull on it to get it free. It's also agonizing when your first bite on a new bait is a 1.5lb fish that shakes its head as it comes in the boat as you watch the rear half of your lure sail over board. Ironically, when you get bigger fish that swallow the lure whole - that is when you wind up getting your bait back in a fishable condition.
The magnets, like those on all the Platinum series, are prone to falling out. As I write this review, the bait I am looking at on my desk has a magnet that is just about to fall out despite the fact that I used super glue gel to secure it before I made a single cast with it. I've caught one fish (that swallowed the lure completely) on this bait. I've snagged it maybe 3 or 4 times and retrieved it carefully each time. The next time I use it, I know that the magnet will fall out unless I glue it again. If you like the magnet feature, I’d check eBay for some spares.
So overall, the Gizzard Shad has the same strengths and weaknesses as the other Platinum baits. It's realistic, shaped just right, and it has a great swimming action that generates bites and puts fish in the boat. At the same time the lures have a bad habit of breaking in half, losing their hook-holding magnets, and swimming crooked out of the package. My advice is to do like the pros do. Find a tackle store that will let you cherry pick and test the baits. Pick out all the good ones, glue in the magnets, and if you see any 1 pounders following your bait - jerk it away from them fast.