Mar 11

Fringe Tackle – A Revolution in Soft Baits

The Fringe Tackle Company is doing some really interesting things, and have absolutely turned the soft baits market on it’s side.  Recently, the maker of these incredible hand-poured swimbait has pulled it’s entire product line from the shelves in order to create some truly realistic pieces, some would say the best on the market.

Closely resembling the natural colors of live baitfish, each piece made by Fringe Tackle Company is unique in it’s design.  The product lines only similarities are the ability to catch fish.  It’s too common to find companies that produce a wide range of outdoor and fishing products.  Fringe Tackle Company is different.  They specialize solely in creating hand-poured swimbait, and they do it extraordinarily well.  Heck, customers who’d like custom colors can even have them created.

One of the coolest features of Fringe’s products is the painstaking attention to detail.  Each bait is poured (by hand) in direct sunlight, to ensure a maximum color match.  If it looks even slightly “off,” it won’t be packaged.  Some baits can take five hours or more to create.

Last year, Fringe Tackle really started strong.  Consulting with tournament champion anglers, artists, and color experts, they’ve really been able to work outside of the box to create some truly inspiring bait.  Their four inch drop shot worms are among the most durable and long-lasting on the market today.

Their chunks and craws are absolutely stellar pieces of art.  By placing them on a jig for a trailer, your jig will seemingly transform into a craw fish in defensive stance.  If you’re looking for a lesser approach, for example when you’re getting tough bites, you can Texas rig them.  The aerodynamic body will simply glide through any vegetation, including lilly pads, and grass beds, and you WILL catch more fish.

The swimbaits come in two sizes, 4” and 5”.  The wobble, action, and strikes at this bait are really the cream of the crop.  Big fish cannot resist the slow action of the bait, which remains in the “strike zone” longer than any other products.  Dragging this bait along the bottom of your favorite lake will drive the bass wild!

With a successful 2013 under their belt, it’s going to be interesting to see what Jeff Pill comes up with for his 2014 product line.  Fringe Tackle Company is truly making an impact by creating beautiful pieces.

Mar 06

Lowerance HDS-12 Gen 2 Touch 83/200 Fish Finder

The Lowerance HDS-12 Gen 2 Touch 83/200 Fish Finder has been released, and we’ve had a bit of time to play around with her, and we’re pretty impressed!  Featuring a bright, large display, touchscreen functionality, and an incredible degree of accuracy, this is truly a fish finder that you’re going to want to try out!
Lowerance HDS-12 Gen 2 Touch 83/200

The interface of the HDS-12 is extremely intuitive, and feels like you’re using a high-end tablet computer.  The user experience has been improved significantly over previous models and is extraordinarily responsive.  The menus, cursor assist functions, and snap-to setting configuration are really second to none.  The quick-touch sliders will provide you with flawless control on the choppiest of lakes, or in heavy rain.

The built-in “StructureScan HD” sonar will allow you to see 180-degree views under your boat, making spotting the big one extremely easy.  You’ll also have the ability to overlay live HD bottom-of-lake images atop your charts.  Really cool!  You’ll easily be able to mark gamefish, bait, and topography regardless of your speed, or the lake’s depth.

The patented Trackback feature will allow you to mark your lake’s hottest spots using sonar imaging history functions.  This is perfect if you’re angling on a larger lake, and have a hard time finding that last great strike spot.

The HDS-12 can optionally sync and be controlled with a wide variety of smartphones and tablets, using the free GoFree application.  You’ll be able to easily select and control a myriad of different displays.

This finder has some of the most exhaustive mapping options that we’ve ever seen on a fish finder.  The cartography options feel endless, including Insight, HD Insight PRO, Navionics, C-Map Max-N, Insight Genesis, TOPO, and many other options.  All charting options can be synced with your home PC to create incredible plans for your angling.

The built-in depth finder allows you to quickly find areas of a lake that may be dangerously shallow, or find deep areas that you may want to explore.

All in all, this is one of the best fish finders on the market today.  Lowerance has a reputation for creating high-quality, intuitive, and easy-to-use electronics for any fisher, from the hobbyist angler, all the way up to the tournament champions.  The Lowerance HDS-12 is a great option for any level of fisherman, and to us, is truly the iPad of the angling world.

Feb 25

Bass Cat’s 2014 Cougar FTD

Back again, with a new model for 2014, Bass Cat has made some great strides towards improving the popular 2013 Cougar model.

When we got this baby out onto the lake, we were impressed.  The 20” hull provides an extremely solid and stable ride, with precision handling… it almost feels as if it’s running on rails.  Do not let the weight fool you, though… this is a really fast top-end boat.  You’ll find yourself trying to push the limits within a few hours of using it.

In addition to it’s speed, the Bass Cat Cougar FTD is laid out wonderfully for both professional and weekend anglers, with plenty of storage for bait, rods, lures, supplies, and other equipment to help you have a great weekend on the lake.

Aesthetically, the 2014 Cougar comes equipped with an new hull design, featuring a rounded bolt, striping graphics located both on the boat’s nose and rear caps (optional).  The new features a triangular shaped livewell design that boasts a significant amount of storage for whatever you may catch, adding ten gallons to previous years models.    The livewell is designed so that the water isn’t running back and forth over the fish, but keeping them comfortable inside.

The storage on this boast cannot be understated.  There is significant room for all of your rods, baits, and tackle.

The deck is laid out to provide storage options from the console to the bow with six separate compartments.  Plenty of storage can also be found underneath the European-themed bucket seats.  A convenient ice chest can be found in the middle of the seating arrangement, so you and your buddies can enjoy a nice cold beverage after a day on the lake.

The 2014 Cougar FTD features a more modular design with respects to it’s console, and the new design can easily handle accessories such as the Lawrence HDS10 or the Hummingbird 1199, something we found incredibly convenient.  All of your additional gauges are right on the dash.
Standard Specifications:

–    Length: 20’4”
–    Length of Minimum Storing: 25’6”
–    With Swing Away Tongue; 23’0”
–    Beam – 94”
–    Weight Estimate: 1765 pounds.
–    Fuel Storage: 52 Gal (Two 26 gallon tanks)
–    Maximum H.P. Spectrum: 200-300.

The 2014 Bass Cat Cougar FTD is a top of the line boat, and designed for those who intend to spend long days dropping their rods into the lake, or families and friends who just want to get out on the water for a few hours.

Feb 10

Bettencourt Baits – Dying Bluegill

Over the course of the last decade, Nathan Bettencourt has become known in most circles as a premier master lure builder. Not only does he create beautiful lures, suitable for collectors, but they also work extraordinarily well. In the past, most of Bettencourt’s lures have focused on action, opposed to visual realism. Upon releasing the “real fish” series, he has obviously stepped up his aesthetic game tremendously.

The finish of this lure is photorealistic. In fact, my son thought that it was a real fish at a glance. Beauty does not mean that the build quality is sacrificed, though, as the protective gloss coating ensures the durability of this lure. The inclusion of hair to represent fins is an attractive and innovative solution. This lure comes in two configurations, one floating, one sinking.

Unlike some of the larger and heavier lures that have become popular over the last few years, the Real Fish is a nice alternative. Coming in at just over half of the size and weight of a typical plug, it can be easily cast by any medium bass rod. Even the sinking model, which is obviously slightly heavier, casts a good distance with very little effort.

The Bettencourt Baits, Dying Bluegill swims very convincingly. The entire tail section has been designed to move back and forth, looking very natural. The hair will move as the lure is being retrieved, giving a very authentic silhouette. There is also a hinge in the center section of the body that allows the lure to look unbalanced or sick. This unhealthy look attracts larger fish for an easy meal.

We put the Dying Bluegill to the test in the shallow waters of the California Delta, and were surprised that bass really took a liking to this lure. We achieved the best results near the reeds and bank but still had no issues when in larger areas like franks track. To get the best results, apply a twitching motion to create the dying fish effect. Even in lakes with no bluegill we were able to drew a significant amount of strikes.


While more expensive than most lures, the Dying Bluegill can be a pretty significant investment. Experienced angers will appreciate the attention to detail that went into the design of this lure. For those less worried about aesthetics, you’ll be happy to know that this lure performs beyond advertised. There were many cases when smaller fish than expected took a shot at the Dying Bluegill.

The Bettencourt Dying Bluegill has crafted the gold standard for bluegill hardbait. The size, shape, and action mimic that of a real fish, and will provide anglers with an awesome alternative to other bluegill swimbait. Fishermen who are willing to make the investment in this lure will be pleased with seasons of strikes from aggressive fish.

Feb 06

Bettencourt Baits, Rodent

The Bettencourt Baits Brown Rodent

This distinctive lure can turn some heads. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the Bettencourt Rodent has been used in my angling, as well as pulling pranks on my rodent-phobic wife, both to resounding success. Nathan Bettencourt is becoming known for creating unconventional and innovative lures. Each lure is crafted by hand, and can be customized with the angler’s name, making it great for collectors as well.

The Bettencourt Rodent is easily the most realistic rodent bail that I’ve ever laid my eyes on, and gives me the creeps. Aesthetically, it looks as advertised, like a rat. The details are stunning, with special attention obviously paid to the eyes, the matting of the fur, and the leathery tail.

In our tests, the Rodent cast well using a 10lb line. My partner was able to cast this monstrosity a good distance with pretty great accuracy. The lake was relatively busy that day, so many other fishermen stopped to ask us what exactly we were casting.

Retrieving the Rodent was where this lure really shines. The lure floats while resting and can slowly be dragged across the lake’s surface. By twitching your line, you give the Rodent the appearance of struggling to stay afloat, drawing attention from bass.

We had a great day with the Rodent, as bass routinely struck the lure aggressively. Most of our hits came as the Rodent was skimming the surface or just below the water line. Bass seem to treat this lure as an easy target, struggling to stay afloat for it’s life. We did get a few strikes while diving, but the majority of our success came from surface fishing. My only issue with this lure is that it’s almost too silent. A rattle option would go a long way here.

Contrary to my expectations, the lure remained good-looking after a few uses. Other “hair” lures usually quickly become matted, lose their color, and start to fall apart. The Bettencourt Rodent held up extremely well, due to its construction. As with any hair-based lure, you’re going to want to let them dry completely before storage.

The Rodent comes at a premium, as they are individually handcrafted. This lure is designed for fishermen who are willing to spend a little extra for something outside of the box. Our testing showed that while unconventional, the Bettencourt Bait is excellent wide mouth bait, and performed excellently when targeting larger fish.


Jun 24

Snag Proof Frog Lures

Snag Proof has been making top quality bass fishing lures since 1961. Snag Proof has quite the extensive line up of frogs in their arsenal, ranging from the Bass Kicker all the way up to their signature series including “Bobbys Perfect” and the “Ish Phat Frog”. Let’s take a look at them.

Ish’s Phat Frog

The Snag Proof Ish’s Phat Frog is unsinkable! Snag Proof and elite bass pro Ish Monroe realized that most frog baits tend to eventually fill with water due to the fact that the collapsible cavity of the frog also has holes through which the hooks must be threaded. Ish’s Phat Frog solves this problem by creating two separate chambers – one to house the hook and the other a sealed air chamber to provide the collapsibility necessary for engaging the hooks. Ish and the folks at Snag Proof also positioned the legs of the frog closer together at the rear of the bait completely out of the way of the hooks. This limits the tendency of the rubber strands to foul around the hooks after violent strikes. Available in an array of effective colors hand chosen by Ish Monroe himself. One customer on Snag Proof’s website said,

“I have been using Snagproof frogs for many years. Got my first chance to use the Ish’s Phat Frog weekend and it is outstanding! Great “castability”, great action and it did not fill up with water. The hooks were great and hook sets rock solid. Great product!”

The Bass Kicker


The Snag Proof Bass Kicker combines the best qualities of a buzzbait with the fish catching finesse of a frog! Weighted to stay upright, and balanced, it casts easily. Glass rattles and the buzzbait effect provide unrivaled sound and action. The durable hollow body lasts longer than solid body frogs and gives you a better hook-set ratio! The Bass Kicker floats at rest and can be fished anywhere from heavy cover to open water. Watch what this guy had to say about the Bass Kicker! 

The Perfect Frog

The Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog is the master of bass frog lures. Proven to immensely improve your hookup rate, extra wide gap hooks allow the body of the Perfect Frog to depress further below the points, giving you a better chance to stick the fish. The Perfect Frog also features Snag Proof’s ITT technology, which consists of a tube that runs through the center of the frog that the hook slides into. No air can get into the cavity, so the Perfect Frog never sinks. The Perfect Frog also comes complete with internal rattles. You’ll also notice the great array of colors! As with most all fishing equipment, Snag Proof’s products may be browsed and purchased at the Boatmasters Store here.

Feb 27

Top Shelf Swimbaits

Top Shelf Swimbaits are handcrafted in America under a unique and innovative process. This process is responsible for creating the bait’s extremely realistic coloring, texture and swimming action. It also ensures a high level of precision so the bait never rolls over or turns on its side. Top Shelf Swimbaits also include Owner Needle Point Hooks. Line inserts are nickel-plated, which prevents the plastic from changing color over time. The insets and the bait’s 3D eyes won’t fall out easily because they are cemented in by hand. No matter what your fishing style is – the Top Shelf Swimbait is the choice of the pros with its amazing detail, tantalizing swimming action and high quality construction.

The Magnum 5″ x 7″

The Top Shelf Magnum Series Swimbait is great because it doesn’t constantly rise to the surface when retrieved at a very high speed. This means anglers can ‘power’ fish these baits with all the benefits of a ‘line-thru’ style swimbait. This unique design allows the bait to slide up the line when fighting a fish, ensuring a better catch ratio and protecting your bait.

The Schooling Minnow

The Top Shelf Schooling Minnow Soft Jerkbait features a natural baitfish profile and thin tapered tail. Fish it weightless or with a weighted hook and it will glide and swoop throught the water column like a fleeing bait fish. Featuring the action and colors the pro’s wanted, the Top Shelf Schooling Minnow Soft Jerkbait is used by the likes of Bassmaster Elite Series pro’s Gerald Swindle and Chris Zaldain.

The Perfect Minnow 4″ X 6″

The Top Shelf Perfect Minnow Hollow Belly Swimbaits feature the colors and actions the pro’s wanted. In fact,  they’re  used by the likes of Bassmaster Elite Series pro’s Gerald Swindle and Chris Zaldain. This bait comes in a range of neat colors, and range in size from 4″ to 6″.

The Croaker

The Top Shelf Croaker is the best bait on the market. It has a special belly that allows it to jump right up on plain like a bass boat, and doesn’t roll on its side either. It always runs straight, and it also produces a gurgle sound that big bass can’t resist. The bait features a specially designed hook slot for sure hook-ups on every blow up as well. Offering the best quality, the Top Shelf Croakers also feature 3D eyes and are available in a range of colors.  Top Shelf Baits are key tournament baits for Elite Series pros. Rig the Top Shelf Croaker on braid, and a 5/0 screw lock wide gap hook,or EWG – and have some fun.

To order your own set of Top Shelf Swimbaits, head on over to and check out the fishing tackle Section.

Feb 15

Bass Cat Pantera II

Pantera II

Length 19’1″
Min. Storage Length 21’7″
With Swing Away Tongue 21’7″
Beam 93″
Approx. Wt. 1495 lb.
Fuel Capacity 33 Gal.
Max. H.P. Range 135-200

Bass Cat reintroduced the Pantera II in 2007 as part of its 35th anniversary celebration and now this 2012 model carries on the tradition with the new rounded stripe and a very sleek console. Bass Cat has built more Pantera IIs than any other model in the company’s history. The optional BCB NexSysLink Gauges are a sweet upgrade. They offer digital readouts monitoring speed, tach, trim, and fuel. This Pantera II measures 19′ 1″ in length with a 93″ beam that carries a 200-hp rating. The floor plan features dual rod lockers and large dual storage boxes on the front deck along with a sectioned cooler. The rear width of the front deck is just short of 60 inches. Two rear deck storage areas are very large, and straddle dual livewells. The bench seating offers a fold down padded center seat for a third passenger. When folded down, you have a rubberized solid surface as a step to the rear deck. This new Pantera II is built with Bass Cat’s innovative “all fiberglass” compression manufacturing techniques just as their other models. This method of construction utilizes their trademarked vacuum process which is years ahead of other bass boat construction processes and offers their Transferable Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty. For more information on how you can order your Pantera II Bass Cat, please contact Boatmasters for order information.

Jan 30

Bass Cat Bass Boat – Puma

Length 20’4″
Min. Storage Length 25’6″
With Swing Away Tongue 23’0″
Beam 94″
Approx. Wt. 1835 lb.
Fuel Capacity 43 Gal.
Max. H.P. Range 200-300

Bass Cat’s Puma cuts through water with ease along side it’s brother, the Puma FTD. This boat is extremely solid, yet still very agile. The Puma produces a very high-quality, exceptionally well built and good-running boat with an intelligent layout that has obviously made its customers very happy, and loyal to the brand.This is a high-performance boat that clearly takes experience to operate safely with a 225-hp outboard. Similar to the 100-mph-plus, open-ocean boats, this high-performance bass boat is not for the novice, and should be driven at high speed only after mastering its handling. Once mastering the driving techniques, and fully understand the performance dynamics and how to control them, this boat will be fun to own.
Options include rigging for Yamaha or Evinrude outboards, the port console, boarding ladder, a ski tow bar, GPS and Fishfinder, trolling motors from either Minn Kota or MotorGuide, hydraulic jack plate, lighted livewell, windshield, stereo, keel protector cladding forward, foot-pedal throttle and center fold-down seat. For more information on how you can order your Puma FTD Bass Cat, please contact Boatmasters for order information.

Jan 28

Bass Cat Bass Boats – Puma FTD

Length 20’4″
Min. Storage Length 25’6″
With Swing Away Tongue 23’0″
Beam 94″
Approx. Wt. 1825 lb.
Fuel Capacity 52 Gal.
Max. H.P. Range 200-300

The all new Bass Cat Puma FTD is “bad” according to the builder who says that they “simply took the front half of the Puma and married it to the back half of the Cougar FTD.” The company says this boat is “quicker and more stable, and provides a softer ride.” The deck layout provides storage from the bow to the console with seven compartments, including a place for your net and measuring board. Plus, two more compartments under the seats, and two more on the back deck. A new modular console provides space for a built-in LCR, along with a host of monitoring gauges. Enjoy cool lighted handrails and pop up mooring cleats at your fingertips for securing this baby at the dock. Innovations? What about a built-in bow navigational light? It’s not only cool, but, very practical. Seat pedestal storage, a stainless screw in drain plug and Southco Latches make life on the water just a little better. The Puma FTD is a truly world class fishing machine. Ride, handling, and FISHABILITY really come together on this boat. That’s nothing new for Bass Cat, of course, but the Puma FTD is an awesome example of a strong blend of performance and fishability that will totally blow you away if you’ve spent much time fishing out of another boat brand. For more information on how you can order your Puma FTD Bass Cat, please contact Boatmasters for order information.

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