October 3, 2010

Megabass 101 ~ Concepts, Construction and Actions of Megabass Lures

Megabass 101 ~ Concepts, Construction and Actions of Megabass Lures

Bassdozer says: "This primer will help anglers to better understand and to get more out of their investment in Megabass lures. Written by Megabass around 2005, the story does not include the latest Megabass models since then, but it covers most of the best models and gives great insight into the concepts, actions and design goals. Please enjoy reading Megabass 101 below."

Megabass was founded in the late 80s by Yuki Ito when he was in his 20s. Located in Hamamatsu, Japan, where Mr. Ito is originally from, Megabass has become a formidable force in the fishing industry of Japan, especially in the past 10 years. It established itself as a high-end plastic bait company with the introduction of the break-through bait POP-X in 1996, and in the same year the Destroyer rod series was released, and they both instantly changed the status quo of the fishing tackle industry of Japan. What makes Megabass so unique is its absolute commitment to design innovation and quality manufacturing, both of which have been backed by Mr. Ito’s talents as an angler, designer and as CEO of Megabass. Megabass is located in Hamamatsu which is about halfway between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto area, and is well-know for the concentration of world class manufacturers such as Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki to name a few. Many believe that Hamamatsu represents the heart of Japanese manufacturing. No wonder Megabass is there.

(1) Capturing Life

What makes Megabass baits particularly unique boils down to their internal structures (such as our patented Moving Balancers, rather than their external beauty as many of you may think). Conventional baits, until Megabass introduced the idea of internal moving balancers (and later, fixed balancers), had to rely only on their external body shapes in order to create any desired actions. I believe that (artificial) bait fishing could potentially be an offense to our Creator because we try to give life to a piece of plastic. We the manufacturer and you the angler are the accomplices in this sense and equally guilty. Throughout the history, we humans seem to be always enchanted with creating life, force/energy out of nothing. All these perpetual movement machines and life-like toys, and even the efforts of alchemists to create gold out of base metals will tell you this deep-rooted desire to fool with life. In this sense it can be said that Megabass is a modern alchemist. Our ultimate goal is to capture life through the action of our plastic baits. There is no such thing as ‘still life’ in the world of artificial bait fishing.

(2) The Balancers

The moving balancers are spherical and made of tungsten alloy, and move inside of the bait, guided by the internal structure. The tungsten balancers are denser and harder, and are therefore closer to a perfect sphere than other materials. This is important, because smaller and near perfect spheres respond more quickly to sudden shift of momentum. There are two types of balancers. One moves lengthwise, and the other type moves left and right. The lengthwise balancers (for example, the Deep-X Series) are used to achieve better castability, steeper diving angle and so on. The other balancers are for enhancing dog-walk (left and right) action. If you are used to the dog-walk actions of the baits without built-in moving balancers, and watch one of our dog-walking baits in action, you will notice how quickly and sharply they turn their heads. Each turn of the head is aided by the shift of balance caused by the balancer(s) repositioning inside the bait. This device also makes the jerking action of the Live-X Series more life-like than baits without the moving balancers. The Margay, Revenge and Leviathan’s jerking actions are, according to our users, ‘acrobatic.’ No wonder, because the position of the balancer can be anywhere along the track when you jerk it, creating an irregular (that is, ‘unpredictable’ even to fish) darting action. But the beauty of this system is that when retrieved steadily it can also swim in a normal and regular way as well.

With the invention of plastic molding, all of a sudden plastic bait manufacturers found a huge empty space inside of baits. Until Megabass came up with the idea of using the space for the Moving Balancers, it was used primarily for buoyancy or rattles. There are other types of moving balancer systems such as magnetic balancers and ones that slide along wires. But we believe our system works best and is the simplest of all.

The other kind of balancer is the fixed balancer such as the Shaft Balancer (PAT) used in X-95 minnow and Flap Slap. The shaft balancers are usually placed lengthwise along the bottom of the bait, acting as a stabilizer. Whenever the bait tilts to one side, it tries to regain stability. As a result the bait swings left and right until it regains its balance (Pendulum action). The idea of the shaft balancers is the complete opposite of the moving balancers. While moving balancers exaggerate the imbalance, the fixed balancer actually tries to stabilize the body movement, which creates a unique action of its own as the bait is continually imbalanced when it is reeled in.

Finally, one thing should be mentioned of any balancer, that is, it does add some additional weight to the bait for an obvious reason. When extra buoyancy is critical for the desired action, we design the internal structure in order to squeeze out any unnecessary material (just like the uni-body construction of modern automobiles sheds hundreds of pounds of steel). Uni-body construction is much more challenging than conventional truck-base construction because its design goal is contradictory: increase body strength by reducing materials (steel in the case of automobile, plastic in our case). This idea is a driving force behind our baits. Take Giant Dog-X, for example. This is a high buoyancy bait, and its outer walls are a mere millimeter thick, and yet this ‘weakness’ is solved by internal walls (with Pop-Max, it is Back Bone Rib) in order to increase its structural integrity. Surface beauty is readily visible, though skin-deep, yet the structural design does not reveal itself until the end of its life. Isn’t it ironic?

(3) The Components

Since baits are tools for fishing, we try to use the best materials available. Even the small baits such as X-55 minnow and Live-X Smolt use oversize hardware so that the line eyes which are factory-tuned and the hooks will not budge when a large fish strikes. In fact Live-X Smolt has been 8-pounder proofed in Nevada when one of our users caught a state record with the original hooks years ago. Please be confident about the hardware of our baits. They will not give up. In case you would like to size up the hooks of our baits, make sure you still like the action of the ‘new’ bait. Our baits are designed with their hooks integrated just like a car is designed with a certain tire size. Replacing the original hooks with larger ones will affect the action of the bait and we do not recommend it for that reason. At the same time we are well aware of the fact that the average age of American anglers is above 40 years old with many years of experiences. We assume you know what to do with your fishing tools.

(4) Line

Although what line to tie our baits is up to you, we do recommend line weight for each bait so that you will be able to optimize its potential. Please remember that your line choice can affect the performance of the bait. It is not just about the strength and stretchiness, but also about the weight of the line itself. Experiment with lines of different weight to see if you can control buoyancy of the bait. In order for the bait to suspend in the water, the weight of the line as well as the water temperature should be included in your consideration. After all, the totality of the bait, the line, the rod & reel and your body (especially, your arm) should be one system.

(5) The Finish

If you hit your bait against a hard object, no finish will survive, perhaps neither the plastic shell. Even though our baits are built sturdy and coated with hard plastic, please remember that they are made of a couple of the plastic shells (the lips are the part of the shells). As I have already said, we want to blow life into a piece of plastic. How can we do it while a piece of plastic is rigid and lifeless? There are two ways to do it. One is through external finish, and the other is through action of baits. When we refer to our finishes, we are not talking about the colors and markings on the baits. There are several finishes in our line of baits. Guanium Ghost finish, which is often shorthanded as ‘GG’, is one of them and the most popular.

The Guanium Ghost finish was invented in order to capture guanine, which causes reflection on fish scales. Aluminum foil used to be the material of choice, but it was not good enough for us. Aluminum foil may be a good material for imitating fish scales of large predator fish such as Tarpon, but being opaque Aluminum cannot capture the translucency of small baitfish flesh. Thus GG finish was invented. Combined with the fine etched scale lines reproduced by our molding technology, it gives convincingly realistic baitfish flesh look to our baits. If you want to see the effect of just Guanium finish without coloring, go for a bait with the Guanium Phantom finish (GP). If you want a mirror-like reflectivity, the Metal finish may be the one for you. The Neon-Core finish is basically the GP finish, but the flat reflective panel is housed lengthwise inside of the baits. The flat panel will send a much larger reflection than off the body surface.

If the Guanium finish is representative of the ghost (translucent) finish, the PM (Pearl Mica) and the others represent the opaque (solid) color finishes. But bear in mind, since all of our baits are made of clear plastic, even with non-Guanium finishes, they do not block light completely. Since our baits allow light to come through the bodies, the colors are much more vivid than baits made of opaque plastics with whatever colors on it. As for the Mat finish, it is non-glossy, and therefore does not lose color intensity by reflecting light. Whether chartreuse or green, our Mat finish colors will not send mixed messages to fish.

(6) The Coloring

What are ‘lifelike’ colors? In the woods even a small piece of plastic is conspicuous because it is artificial looking. In fact solid and even colors such as a plastic lid or a bottle do not exist in nature. Yet, the woods are teeming with all kinds of life in various stages, even dead trees. This issue involves shapes as well, but that is another subject to be dealt with later. In any case it is not the colors such as green or yellow itself, which should be considered here, because all kinds of colors exist among flowers for instance. Also, I am not arguing that only bright colors are lifelike. Black soil (and other so-called earth colors) are always considered the symbol of fertility and life as well. The key here may have something to do with the reason why camouflage design works well in the woods. Blending with the background colors in order to hide is obvious purpose, but you want to become a part of the woods if you want to truly ‘hide’. In another words how can colors help a piece of plastic to become a part of the fish’s environment? Of course we can imitate the colors of primary prey in any environment. The answer to capture life in terms of colors seems to be how complex (including textures as well) colors are used not only in order to break up solid colors but more to create a lifelike ‘pattern’ of colors. Here we have to introduce another meaning-laden word: natural. When we anglers say ‘natural’ in order to describe a bait color, what we mean is it resembles a particular prey, which is a living thing of course. More convincingly ‘natural’ the better it is. Of course we all know that sometimes ‘unnatural’ colors work so much better. But that is precisely because they are so ‘un-natural’ looking. This contradiction of artificial color and natural actions of the baits makes the baits stand out, and yet seem like they still belong in the natural environment.

Our baits have layers of paints sprayed again and again in order to get the right color depth. The importance of the color depth is obvious when you realize the reason why your eyes get easily tired when you look at patches of solid color surface for a while. That is because it does not have the detail (complexity) of the natural objects and also there is no transition between the colors. In order to create black color, we do not use black paint. Instead, we layer a number of paints. That is why you see purple and other colors in the edge of black. This is what I mean by the ‘transition’ and ‘depth’. As for the ‘texture’, I only have to mention our Mat finish and the Shrimp and the Craw colors of the Bait-X. Please take a look at our 2005 color charts (2 posters). Describing the ‘colors’ of our baits has never been easy.

(7) The Body Lines

Every one of our baits is a reproduction of the originals, which were hand-carved by Yuki Ito, the founder/chief designer of Megabass. Therefore, the left half and the right half of the bodies are not exactly the same, in case you have not noticed. When you compare our baits with others, which are likely to be designed with CAD machines, theirs seem too artificial (= un-natural). Since computers can only understand mathematical language, the end result is often very clean lines. Make no mistake those ‘clean’ lines can be very attractive. In fact, take a look at Audi TT or VW New beetle, if you are not sure. Yet, those lines do not exist in nature. The mathematical lines will calm you down maybe because they appeal to your reason. Incidentally, the metallic colors such as metallic silver and even black and white may have the similar effect on you. You notice that they do not excite us. The fact that the most of sports cars are red or yellow or blue and we tend to be most impressed by their dynamic curvaceous (non-mathematical) lines should tell us the relationship between excitement and natural lines. And in my opinion a designer can ultimately be judged by those lines he created in his lifetime. That is why looking at the well-defined hand-drawn lines excite us. Yuki Ito refuses to use CAD machine because he knows there is no life in mathematical lines. The mathematical elegance should never be confused with natural beauty, which is governed by very different set of principles. After all, plastic and other materials used for artificial fishing bait are very artificial indeed. Transforming these artificial materials into natural acting and natural looking objects is almost like magic. And ‘magic’ always defies the physical reality defined by the rules of physics. Perhaps, many, many years later when we have spent enough time with artificial environment, we may internalize this new world. Until then, our eyes and minds (fish too) are still conditioned by nature. Thank goodness.

(8) Actions

When I think of ‘life-like’ action of our baits, the first bait to come to my mind is X-55 Minnow. The X-55 is a 2-inch long minnow and you need F2 or F1 or even F0 level of spinning rods to cast it properly. The way this minnow swims makes me think of what I call ‘pencil effect’. If you hold a pencil with your thumb and index finger and start moving your hand up and down, the pencil which you know as ‘rigid’ and straight begins to look and also feel ‘soft’ and bent around you finger. Well, that is what the X-55 makes you (and the fish) believe. When swimming, this minnow’s tail looks like it moves left and right just like a fish does. Of course it is an illusion. But a convincing illusion is far more real than an unconvincing fact, in my opinion.

Most of our artificial baits are designed to mimic some action of actual baitfish or some other prey. I do not intend to list them all up here, but there are a good many.

1. Skating

Dog-X Sliding Type, which established Megabass’ position not only in Japan but also in the United States in the mid 90s. Its smooth and almost ‘airy’ skating action for the first time introduced anglers to the power of the Side-Stepping Balancer System (PAT). With Dog-X we were able to speed up the dog-walk action with much less effort. Type-X, which was released in the recent year, is another kind of skater. The skating action of Type-X is basically circular by which I do not mean it circles around and around. It dog-walks in a circular motion left and right. Therefore, it stays much longer in the same spot to generate strikes.

2. Dog-Walk

Many of our baits have the dog-walk action in varying degrees. For instance, Dog-X’s cross section is close to round and it sits horizontally on the surface, so, it receives least amount of water resistance. On the other hand, since the tail of Dog-X Walking Type is weighted, the Walking type receives a lot more water resistances at its tail. If you pull it a little harder, it almost jumps out of the water and begins to resemble a baitfish being chased by a predator. But, this leaping action is captured best by the Dog-X Jr. If you want the fastest, cleanest and sharpest dog-walk action, Dog-X Jr. is it. If you are after the subsurface leaping action, then Dog-X Jr. Coayu Slide-Sinker is it. On the other hand the Giant Dog-X’s dog-walk action makes me think of a motorcyclist leaning and twisting his body when he turns a sharp corner. The Giant Dog-X is not a round but more like wide body bait. It is designed to lean from side to side and push water away when it walks. It appeals to the most active fish.

3. Poppers

Our Pop-X is usually categorized as a popper, but Pop-X is a lot more than a popper. It makes what you might call ‘bio-sound’ due to a pair of Water Ducts (PAT), which lets water to go through its gill areas. And its spit is also more natural than the ‘splash’ a conventional popper makes. Pop-X is often called finesse popper among top-water anglers for this reason. Since poppers tend to sit still more often it is critical to look ‘real’ or ‘natural’. If there is any bait which looks more convincingly natural and more detailed than Pop-X, please let us know. Pop-Max on the other hand is more dynamic, yet it is equipped with much larger and more complex Water Ducts system which makes this bait more ‘biological’ than a piece of plastic. Its action is based on dog-walk, but it grabs so much more water each time it turns its head, it makes us think of a water wheel changing the direction of the spin at each turn.

4. Darting Action

When you jerk your bait it darts. If the bait is designed to dart when jerked, it is called a jerkbait. It is usually a minnow bait with short or long bill. Our Minnow series such as X-55, X-70, X-80 Trick Darter, X-80 Rocket Darter, X-95 (Q-GO) and Vision 110 are all short bill minnows, and they all suspend except for X-80 Rocket Darter (sinking) and Vision 110 (slow floating). The Live-X Series (Smolt, Margay, Revenge, Leviathan) are all long bill minnows, and they all suspend in the water. The Minnow series takes care of the shallow water situations, and the Live-X series are for the mid-depth situations. Therefore, the Live-X series baits can be considered a minnow type crankbait for the mi-depth range as well. Most of them share the Moving Balancer System of one kind or another for their unique acrobatic darting actions. But, if you love jerkbait fishing I would suggest X-70 for light spinning enthusiasts, and Margay and X-80 Trick Darter for bait casters. If you have hard time casting Margay with bait rods, I suggest you try F1 or F2 class Destroyer bait rods, or F3 class spinning rods. But, Margay’s castability may not be an issue any longer with the introduction of Margay StepCat in 2005. X-70 is a flat sided minnow, and that may have a lot to do with its sharp darting action.

5. Subsurface Action

The topwater baits basically sit on the water surface and they are not supposed to go under at all. The Dog-X Coayu Slide-Sinker was the first to go underwater in order to break the water surface in the way a baitfish does when chased by predator fish. And then came Griffon Zero, which made the definition of subsurface action very clear. When in action Griffon Zero sticks out of the water (after all it is top-water bait), yet, a thin film of water goes over the bait surface as if a submarine is about to surface. Even though it has a lip just like Griffon SR-X, it refuses to dive more than 6 inches due to its Water Duct (PAT.). Zero to 6 inch, the new (subsurface) topwater range has been created by Griffon Zero.

6. Wobbling Action and Water Displacement

Swimming action of bait can be explained in terms of angles relative to the two axes; lengthwise and vertical relative to the bait. But one way to measure lure action is to measure how much water it displaces with each action. Here, its volume and frequency are the two key factors. Since water is much denser than air, fish lateral lines are an extremely effective sensory organ. Just like we hear sound waves and interpret them, fish feel water waves and interpret them. The reason our baits give you an impression of ‘larger than life’ action for their size is they do not just turn their heads left and right along the vertical axis, but they also turn their bodies along the lengthwise axis as well. The Griffon Series and the Cyclone Series bait are truly ‘hard working baits’ and if retrieved with Destroyer rods, you will be overwhelmed by the vibration you feel in the hands, because they displace a huge volume of water. Frequency is determined by the retrieve speed, which is why it is critical to have widest retrieve speed range possible. We suggest you conduct a simple test. Tie a few baits to a stick side by side, and let them swim at various speed. Find out which one will start to swim or give up swimming before the other baits. The bait with the widest retrieve speed range has the widest frequency range; therefore, they provide you more ways to attract fish. This issue of retrieve speed range is as basic and therefore as critical as balance of fishing rods.

7. Boil Action

We all have seen ‘boil’ on the water surface at some time, and we know what is going on underneath. Well, finally we have boil action bait, called Anthrax and Anthrax 100 for 2005. We believe Anthrax is the first bait to capture boil action in the 100 and some years of artificial bait history, but we may be wrong. Anthrax is a ‘belly up’ bait with a good size anal fin, which is the half of the reason for boil action. The other half is the new balancer system called Roller Gyro Balancer System (PAT. P). With this system the balancer goes over the lengthwise solid shaft balancer, so that shift of balance is much more dynamic, in fact dynamic enough to give sufficient momentum for the anal fin to hit the water surface, and create a ‘boil’ action. Another merit of this balancer system is it always lands on the water sideway exposing not the pearl-white underbelly which tends to blend with the water reflection, but its side to the predator fish underneath. Finally, when retrieved, the anal fin which sticks out from the water surface, creates very natural triangular waves just like a shark fin.

8. Prop Action

X-80 Prop Darter has a rear prop, but unlike ordinary prop baits, this one has an asymmetrical prop. When retrieved it does not swim straight. Rather, the swim track looks more like a stretched out coil of wire. It swims with light, high-pitched prop sound with natural splash. X-80 Prop Darter is not only our first prop bait but also our first boil action bait as well. Retrieve it by changing your rod position in order to get most out of this bait. X-80 Prop Darter is a truly unique bait.

9. Bottom Contacting

Within our hard bait lineup, the Deep-X Series and Bait-X belong to this category, especially Bait-X. Bait-X was designed to cover riprap type of shore structures as fast as you can as a search bait. Therefore, instead of digging into the bottom, it pecks lightly and moves on. Because Bait-X has high buoyancy it does not get stuck easily. Slow-retrieve it for that reason. Try Bait-X instead of Texas rigging for a change.

10. Swisher Action

Ordinary prop/swisher bait do not do anything other than swishing. They come back to you straight like in-line spinner, swishing along. Only way for you to shut them up is to pause them, but as soon as you restart retrieving they restart swishing as well. Our swisher bait, Scream-X and Scream-X Jr. will dog-walk instead so that their swishing is not one of those constant kinds. Also, with Scream-X if you raise your rod tip high and retrieve it, you can stop Scream-X from swishing. Scream-X is designed for spot fishing, that is, when you know fish are there, therefore you would like your bait to swish only there. And Scream-X Jr., which is a double prop bait, is for covering larger area as search bait. Their propeller-based body design twists their bodies when they dog-walk, which accentuates the swishing action.

(9) Stream/Creek Fishing

For those of you who do not use anything less than F4 class bait rods, you do not know what you are missing. If you live in the north including New England region, you know what I am talking about. There is something special about stream fishing. It is cool and quiet. Protected by tree overhung, you are often alone with your feet in the cool (cold?) clean water. You could choose to fly fish if you like, but light spinning outfit is our choice. The way light line comes out silently through the guides of F0-68XS makes a sharp contrast with the noise fly line makes, but both add pleasure to stream fishing. If it is a small stream, you need lighter and shorter rods such as F0 to F2 class Destroyer spinning rods, but if it is not so small and especially if there are good size pools here and there, then you can switch to F3 or F4 class rods including the ones with the Stinger tip (the Hedge hog series). The bait to be used are, starting with X-30, which Aaron Martens uses with split shot, and then X-55 minnow, X-70 minnow, Baby Griffon and then Live-X Smolt for lighter application. For a little heavier application you may choose Margay, Griffon and even Dog-X. F1 to F3 class bait rods are actually rather good choice for large enough streams and rivers, especially for topwater baits. Megabass products including Destroyer rods are not only for tournament anglers or bass boat anglers, but also for any angler who enjoys fishing seriously including stream anglers. We at Megabass will never overlook any angler however a minority they are, as long as they love fishing and need the best fishing tools for the sake of the best fishing experiences.

Welcome to the World of Megabass, where compromise does not exist and excitement is taken for granted.

Copyright © Megabass USA

For pricing and current availability of Megabass lures, please visit http://www.BassdozerStore.com.

Thank you for your business. May your next fishing trip be your best ever!