The Huddleston Deluxebow became very quietly available in 2003. The bait was very large (12”) and very expensive for a plastic lure (first $50 then $85). There wasn’t a lot of talk about the bait when it came out and almost as quickly as it appeared Ken Huddleston released his 8” trout which exploded in popularity, and the larger Deluxebow went out of production. The bait, while it was manufactured, was available in several configurations. To understand the models you have to understand the Rate of Fall (ROF) concept. Basically all of the lures are rated by how many feet they will sink on a ten count. The ROF 0 Deluxebow was a floating bait designed with a straight tail for deadsticking. The ROF 8 Deluxebow had a more standard boot tail and was designed for cast and retrieve fishing or trolling. There were also some ROF 0 Deluxebows that had a boot tail. The bait in this review actually happens to be one of those models, which can be used to deadstick or for a surface or slightly subsurface presentation. Color wise I know of two colors, a trout and a shad. There may be more but those are all that I have seen.
When the Deluxebow came out, it really set a new bar for realism in plastic trout imitators. The paint jobs are extremely detailed with a subtle scale pattern and accurate spot placement. The eyes are very nicely done, and each of the pectoral and pelvic fins are molded separately and glued on to the bait. Little things like the way that silver highlights were brushed on to the tail on the straight tail ROF0 really showed Ken’s level of commitment to making a super realistic bait.
Looking past the surface of the bait to the internals, the Deluxebow has a very interesting setup. There’s a fairly standard wire harness to hold the large Mustad Ultrapoint hook in place (I believe 6/0 or 7/0). Molded to the wire harness is a foam section which balances out the lure and causes it to sit correctly in the water at all times. For the ROF0 models, the foam section extends well in to the back of the lure. The wire harness runs to the belly for the belly hook but also to the rear of the bait which allows you to rig a treble close to the tail without having to run a leader. It’s really a shame that more rubber lures don’t have a dual hook setup like this! On a bait this size, it’s a must to have a second treble toward the tail.
Because these lures are so hard to get now, I haven’t had a chance to see the action of the ROF 8 but I have seen the ROF 0 both the straight tail and the boot tail. The straight tail ROF 0 is purely for deadsticking. You can twitch it and jerk it but it doesn’t have any sort of swimming action. The boot tail ROF 0 has a standard boot tail action, however the lure is shaped in such a way that it also slides side to side on a medium retrieve. The best comparison I can offer is the side to side sashay of a surface iron like a Tady 45. The bait will turn slightly to each side and run a few feet before correcting and heading back the other way. It’s a pretty cool action and everything about the design on these lures says BIG FISH.
The last thing to talk about is collect-ability. Any time you have a popular lure maker making a low volume of baits the potential arises for the baits to become collector items. The few Deluxebows that I have seen on Ebay were going for $150+ and I’d expect with the popularity of the 8” Huddleston that this value will only increase. I don’t know if all of the Deluxebows were individually numbered but the first 100+ were so that’s another consideration for the collector.
The obvious downside to the Deluxebow is that you simply can’t get them and even when they were available they were very expensive for a soft plastic lure. You will occasionally see them on eBay, so it's worth a look - but they are very rare. If you’re over the price and you’ve managed to actually get a bait there are a few small issues to discuss from a fishability standpoint.
The first point worth discussing is the glue on fins. They’re very good looking fins and they have a nice little wiggle to them but inevitably you’re going to tear them off or a fish will do it for you. As far as glue on fins go, they’re done well but you just can’t get a bait like that and expect it to stay perfect after thousands of casts and a few big bass chewing on it.
The other issue is the paint. When the baits are new, they look awesome but over time the paint has a tendency to yellow. You can see this a little bit in the photos above. This yellowing was also noticeable on some of the early 8” Huddlestons but has since been corrected. I don’t know if there’s any way to slow this yellowing process but if you have a bait I would definitely store it out of the influence of any direct lighting or sunlight.
Overall these are some pretty cool baits and definitely worth your money if you can get one for fishing or collecting. And just think, even if you don’t catch anything on it, at least other people watching you fishing will call out “hey that guy’s got one” every time you lift the bait out for another cast :)