Castaic Softbait Catch 22
Author: Rob Belloni
The Castaic Catch 22 was released at the Bass-a-Thon show fall of 2008. There are, a the time of this review, four sizes which are available in 2 sink rates per size (floating and slow sink). Retail price ranges from around $23 for the 10" model to $13 for the 4" model. The initial color offering was rainbow trout, but more colors are coming soon with a ghost rainbow included among several other options. The Catch 22 comes with a single "Treble Claw" hook which is a Castaic exclusive.
To understand the Catch 22 you have to take a quick jog through the past, starting with the Castaic Platinum. The Platinum, if you've read my review, was one of these lures that was brilliant in terms of action and hookup ratio but terrible in terms of durability. On a good bite you could go a half-dozen 8" Platinums in a day - I've seen it happen.
After the Platinum, Castaic came out with the Rock Hard series, which was like a fatter hardbait version of the Platinum. The Rock Hard had great potential but was poorly executed in production with cheap hardware and joints that were prohibitively tight. Some guys modded out their Rock Hards to get baits that worked but by-in-large the bait was a flop.
In 2008, Castaic Softbait was bought by Nature Vision and the Catch 22 was released as their first new bait. The name Catch 22 comes from the guarantee the company is making that you can catch at least 22 largemouth bass per lure without it tearing up. This guarantee is based on the lure design which incorporates a kevlar "skeleton" inside the plastic. The mesh of kevlar means no more 'lure tearing in half' syndrome. I think its a brilliant idea and a huge improvement over the platinum.
For this review I sampled one bait in each size. They all swam beautifully out of the package. The action is like the platinum but stronger. You'll feel the bait kick more and notice the stronger swimming action at fast speeds. The 10" bait reminds me (in a strange way) of the 10" Stocker Trout in the way it swims. Not that the lures look anything alike, but they just have a similar motion through the water.
I was particularly impressed by the 4" bait. It's difficult to make such tiny swimbaits and get them to swim straight and consistent. This 4" bait on light line is really something. You could fish this bait on 8lb with a spinning reel if you wanted. The Catch 22 lineup is a rare one that covers everything from trophy bass down to spotted bass.
Unfortunately I haven't managed to catch 22 bass on any of my baits yet, but I have thrown them enough to check out the durability and my impressions so far are all positive. I haven't tried this -- but I'd bet that it's hard to pull these baits apart with your hands if you wanted to. The internal kevlar skeleton makes for a night and day difference between this and the Platinum.
The Treble Claw hook is still a question mark in my mind. I'd love to hear more from people who have caught a lot of fish on the Catch 22 baits to hear their opinion of the hookup ratio. I can see pluses and minuses to a hook like this and am holding off on forming an opinion until I can spend more time with the hook.
The Castaic magnet system for hook holding is a neat feature, one that I like for the most part. I haven't observed any issues with the magnets falling out, which was a total nuisance with the Platinum.
It's hard to trap rig this lure - the 10 inch in particular. It reminds me of trying to trap rig the Rago Live Trout Softbait. You can do it, but you have to be very precise in your rigging, and you may have to tinker with the trap hook every 10 or 20 casts to make sure it stays right. My best bet would be to trap rig with heavy braid or mono and leave some play in the line. Also, cutting off the head of a tiny safety pin and threading it on to the trap line before attaching the trap hook can allow you to hold the trap line close to the body of the bait to prevent fouling.
My other complaint with the Catch 22 is the oval split rings that are used to position the hook far enough back to attach to the magnet. These split rings are junk and you should throw them away the minute you get the bait so that you aren't tempted to fish with them. Replacing with a string of 3 to 6 Owner Hyperwires would be highly advisable. Threading a small piece of tubing on the line would be another option to get the distance between the point where the line emerges from the belly of the lure and the magnet.
Overall I think that the Catch 22 is the best bait Castaic has come out with since the Castaic Softbait Trout. I'm looking forward to the addition of more colors and fish imitating options like bluegill and shad. Castaic finally got their production down right to where I can recommend to you as the lure consumer that spending $13 - $23 is a good call.