The Optimum was one of the first big heavy swimbaits. I don't have the exact dates, but I believe it came out in the mid 90's. There has been a number of giant fish caught on Optimum, most notably at Perris and Poway. It's a definite trophy hunting bait, that fits a niche for fishing deep and covering water hard.
My nickname for the Optimum is the Opti-Bomb. This guy is heavy and compact and you can definitely bomb it a mile even on heavy line. So casting is a major plus with the Optimum because you can sit way off the spot and fire casts at it.
In general, the Optimums run great out of the bag. I've never seen an original Optimum that ran crooked. The overall action on the bait is all generated by the tail. It's a big throbbing kick tail that wags like crazy even at very slow speeds. Pretty much if you move the bait, the tail kicks.
The strength of the Optimum is deep fishing. This bait gets the bottom FAST and you can crawl it along the bottom without fouling too bad because the hook is on top and doesn't have much gap between the bait and the hookpoint. There's not a lot of swimbaits that are easy to work in the 20+ foot depth range, but the Optimum can do it.
I also like the color schemes on the Optimums for murky water. They're very white and opaque looking, which I believe is better in murky conditions. Trout get very pale in muddy water, so I feel like with the throbbing tail and the white-ish colors I can draw a fish in from a better distance with the Optimum than with most baits.
Durability wise, the Optimum is pretty good in the rubber bait department. You should be able to get several fish per bait, up to a dozen or so if they aren't tearing at it.
Well, I think when you look at the Optimum you can take a pretty quick guess as to what it's main weakness is. The main weakness is that you have about 1/3 to 1/2" of clearance between the back of the bait and the tip of the single hook. Small fish quite simply bounce off of the larger size optimums most times. If you're using the Optimium as a tournament bait, you should probably be using the the 5 or 6" version if you want to keep your sanity. The 7" and up are so deep bodied that 3lbers are going to bounce off of them like crazy. I missed my first 6 bites on the 7" optimum, and I'm sure they were 2 to 5lb fish that just couldn't get the bait in their mouth.
The other negative about Optimum is that it's just not super realistic. The overall profile is decently trout like, but the bait doesn't move through the water very much like a trout. I feel like you're relying on a pretty aggressive fish get a bite on the bigger size Optimums.