Author: Rob Belloni
The Cl8Bait 9 inch trout debuted at the fall 2008 Bass-a-Thon show. This handmade bait is made in the USA and comes in three sink rates (floating, slow sink, and fast sink). The lures weigh 4.4, 4.7 and 5.2oz respectively. There are five colors including two trout, a hitch, chartreuse shad, and baby bass. All three hooks are Gamakatsu with a jig hook on top, a frog hook on the belly, and a clipped EWG treble above the tail. The Retail price is $80.
The most innovative aspect of this lure is the body material, which is hard - but pliable. If you grip the bait firmly and push on the dorsal fin, you'll notice that it flexes ever so slightly. Clayton (the bait maker) tells me that this material withstands casting on to rocks and docks and I believe it. Watch the video clip attached to this review where I cast the bait on to the edge of the swimming pool for a demonstration of the durability.
I think we will see other lure makers rush to copy this material because it’s the answer to the durability question that so many have struggled with in the past. Big props to Cl8Bait for thinking outside the hardbait box and brining this new material to market. Nothing is worse than brining in your high dollar hardbait to find it cracked in half after an errant cast.
For years big bait fishermen have customized their hooks to camouflage them and place them in sneaky places where they’ll hook and land more bass. The Cl8Bait comes “pre-customized” with painted hooks to match the adjacent lure body color. It looks sharp and saves you the trouble of painting the hooks.
Even better, the hooks are recessed in to grooves in the body of the bait and held in place with a magnet. Castaic Softbait did the magnet thing originally and it was good, but the Cl8Bait makes the magnet system twice as practical with the grooves to hold the hooks in place. This setup lets you make cast after consistent cast without having to reposition your hook. It’s clever and I wonder how long it will be before we see this design on more mainstream baits like crankbaits and jerkbaits.
Another detail worth noting on the Cl8Bait trout is the fin material. The fins don’t look amazingly realistic, but they are made from this gummy rubber material that is seriously tough. Its little things like that that make the bait a pleasure to fish with because you’re never looking down at the bait to find a ripped or missing fin (remember when the BBZ-1 first came out?).
The action on the Cl8Bait trout deserves a slew of adjectives. Its well above average, and the lure swims perfect at all speeds. My bait is a slow sink and when you crawl it along it moves stunningly like a trout. I mean fool your back-seater good. If you rip the bait near the surface it looks like a trout rushing up to grab an insect. It's uncanny. You’ll do a double-take. I'm 100% impressed by the action and love the multi-speed options.
What impresses me most about the Cl8Bait is the thought that went in to the lure. This was not some carve it, mold it, sell it lure. This bait has all the hallmarks of a lure that was tested, refined, rebuilt, and re-made many times before production. The result is one of the best ‘first releases’ from a new company I’ve ever seen.
I did get a speck of rust on the magnet that holds the rear hook. A shot of clear coat or epoxy over the magnet might have helped that, though it could be due to the exposed hook shank where the rear treble prong is clipped off.
I also feel like the contrasting fin colors give the bottom of the bait a 'complex' look that doesn't totally jive with the smooth white belly of a trout. There’s opportunity there to take all of the technical innovations of the bait and smooth them out in to a more realistic presentation. The action is spot on, but the static look of the lure could be improved to be more trout-like.
Overall I'm calling this one as a long term fish catcher. The action of the bait, the durability, and the hook setup all point to success. People are already getting fish on the bait and they’re good ones. I’m only curious to see what Cl8Bait’s next lure looks like.