So I’m a touch disturbed and a hair upset. Last night I got a sneak peek at the new product showcase at this year’s ICAST industry tackle show in Orlando. What I love most about the showcase is identifying a theme for tackle in the coming year. Sometimes it takes some effort to figure it out. This year it hit me like a stick in the eye…or maybe a wire in the eye is more appropriate. There on the lure tables sprouted arm after arm of this company’s and that company’s take on the Alabama rig. Excuse me, we’re calling them “schooling rigs” now. But it’s not the “schooling rigs” that irk me as much as how their influence seems to be spilling over into other lure styles. This year’s theme in the lure department is getting more hooks, more blades, and more soft-plastic shads incorporated into single lures.
Take, as one example, the Scuttle Buzz from Livingston Lures in the photo above. There are four spinner blades, two buzzers, and three hooks (hard to see in the shot, but that’s a double stinger, each with its own blade). In the description, Livingston is quick to point out that this is a “tournament legal” lure that “looks like a pod of bait swimming for their life” and “double stinger hooks riding on a barrel swivel ensures solid hookups every time.” This new phrase, “tournament legal,” appeared on several other lure descriptions. I’ve seen simple skirted jigs now sporting a crown of five spinner blades and even entire lines of tackle boxes made just to store these monstrosities.
I have never fished a “schooling rig” and don’t plan to. To each their own, and if you love them, go for it, but I would rather have the extreme pleasure of watching a bobber dip after a bass eats the live shiner below it than chuck all that metal, work it back with zero finesse, and break my arms in the process. I’m not a tournament angler so I could care less about what’s “tournament legal.”
I won’t deny that these rigs catch fish, but every time I’m fishing with someone who’s using one, whether they’re catching fish or not, all they do is complain about them. To fish them correctly, you need a broom stick. They are not easy to cast, feel like dead weight on the retrieve, and they take the fight out of the fish. Fishing should be fun and challenging, not a chore.
Last year I marveled at the ultra-realistic lures at the new product showcase. This year I just sighed a lot. I really hope this is a passing fad. In my mind this is not innovation, and innovatitive lure designs are what get me excited about ICAST.
However, it’s just my opinion. If you think these rigs and lures are the best thing since sliced bread, tell me why.