Black Dog Baits - Tail Wagger
Author: Rob Belloni
Black Dog Baits added the Tail Wagger to their lineup in late 2007. This 9 and 1/4 inch bait weighs 6oz and comes stock with 2/0 Owner Stinger hooks. The stock color is the trout pattern pictured, however there are a multitude of special colors which you may find at tackle shows, certain tackle stores, or by contacting Black Dog direct. Retail price on these guys is in the neighborhood of $50.
The Tail Wagger is a composite lure with a lexan tail. The tail is affixed with a single metal pin. The split rings are decent. Not great, but not bad. Pretty much your standard "slightly stronger than regular" type split ring.
The Tail Wagger is a true swimming lure. There's so much to be said for this in a time and place where so many lures have trouble moving in a straight line. My test bait was just right out of the package and you can straight burn the lure back to the boat with no planing or rolling.
It would be impossible to write this review without saying the words Triple Trout, as the Tail Wagger is clearly in the same genre of three-piece lipless trout imitators. While the cosmetic similarities are obvious, this bait is not like the stock Triple Trout in terms of weight. It is somewhere between the 1 and 1.5oz weighed Triple Trouts in terms of the way it fishes and the rate at which it sinks. You can fish the Tail Wagger in 20' of water with no trouble.
One thing that Black Dog always gets right is the paint job, and the Tail Wagger is no exception. The fading between colors and the overtones of gold and green give the Tail Wagger a great look both in and out of the water. Several people did report problems with paint peeling off in the first batch of lures but I have not heard mention of this issue since. Jeremy and the guys at Black Dog understand paint.
The Lexan tail is an area where I'm conflicted. On the one hand you will never have a fish bite it in half or tear it up. And you get a very nice transparent look that catches the light and gives a subtle tail profile. On the other hand there's always the chance that your thumb will slip while casting toward a dock and the rear section of your lure will meet an unhappy end. The tail section looks solid but it's hard for me to decide if I like it.
For $50 I always appreciate it if good hooks are included in the box. 2/0 Owner Stingers fit that bill for me. The taxidermy style eyes are very nice as well. If you take a look up the side of the lure from behind you'll notice how the eyes just out to catch the light and add that little extra notion of realism.
In regards to fishability and intangibles the Tail Wagger strikes me as a "big kid" bait. What I mean by this is that when you get in to the category of heavy, long casting, deep sinking, fast action lures you take out a decent chunk of the angling public as customers. I don't view this as a bad thing. In fact, as a big bass fisherman I like lures with the attributes I just mentioned.
However if you are feel that you're in the category of normal bass fisherman checking out swimbaits, be aware that this is not a lure to do a little shore fishing with at the local trout plant lake. This is a bait for boat fishing in big, clear, deep water. Make sure you put a rod with backbone and 25 mono behind this bait while you are out there.
One of the big dilemmas as a product reviewer is that I almost always get baits out of batch number one. With the Tail Wagger there were several obvious defects that very well may have been worked out by now. None the less my bait needed some help out of the package.
The first issue was with the pin holding the tail on. My tail fell off before I even made a cast with the lure. This was easily fixed with a drop of superglue, and I would recommend the same (super glue gel is a great product).
The next thing I noticed after fishing the lure was that the hinges began rusting immediately after the first trip. Now I like some sqeak to my lure joints, but I don't like to see rust stains running down the inside of the hinges. Again, these issues may be corrected now, but the bait I have is a rusty little dude sitting here at my desk as I write this.
My last observation was with the eyes. They look great but I flicked both of them out with my fingernail. I would like to have seen some Devcon 2 or Aristocrat style epoxy covering the eyes to ensure they do not come out.
Overall my feeling about the Tail Wagger is that it's a legit lure. I'm pleased with the true-swimming action and the solid paint jobs. I like the Owner hooks and the taxiermy eyes, and I feel like with a little cosmetic and structural re-work this is a bait worth putting in your box for $50.