By Ned Kehde
Midwest finesse anglers have been slow to joining the swimbait phenomenon that was conceived in California in the 1970s and 1980s.
Instead, we have been hooked on either the three- or four-inch curly-tail grub, and it has been part of some Midwest finesse anglers’ repertoire for four decades.
Part of our tardiness revolves around the size of most of the swimbaits. From our perspectives, the traditional swimbaits have been too big for our tactics and tastes. But in recent years tackle manufacturers — especially those in Japan — have been designing and manufacturing smaller ones that are suitable for our Midwest finesse methods. And Northland Fishing Tackle of Bemidji, Minnesota, recently announced that they are manufacturing a 2 1/2- and 3 1/2-inch swimbait that has caught the attention of some Midwest finesse anglers. It is called the IMPULSE Core Swimbait, which the folks at Northland heralded as a multispecies bait that “mimics baitfish in all conditions.”
Its head is cone shaped, and the tip of its head is flat, which allows it to fit snuggly and flush to the back of a Northland’s Slurp! Jig.
From the back of its head to the junction at its tail, its oval-shaped torso is encompassed with a series of pronounced ribs. The 2 1/2-inch IMPULSE Core Swimbait has 18 ribs, and the 3 1/2-incher has 26 ribs. The diameter of its torso gradually diminishes as it approaches the junction of its tail.
The end of its tail is adorned with a prominent boot, which the folks at Northland call an “aqua-dynamic boot.” And when an angler is casting it and employing a swimming retrieve, the boot undulates dramatically, which provokes the “extra-soft ribbed body” to intensely quiver and gyrate. All of this movement allows Northland’s IMPULSE Instinctual Attractant, which is a “baked-in MicroPlankton formula,” to radiate from the torso.
We exchanged a couple of emails about the IMPULSE Core Swimbait with Jeff Gustafson of Kenora, Ontario, Canada. He says it will prove to be a very versatile bait that will catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass at many waterways across the United States and Canada. He says it can be employed on a jig with an exposed hook, affixed to a hook Texas-style on a slip-sinker rig, or attached to a drop-shot rig. His preference, however, is to use it on a jig, such as a 1/4- ounce jig with a minnow-style head.
He will work it into his repertoire at the FLW Tour events in April at Cumberland Lake, Kentucky, and Beaver Lake, Arkansas. Because of its slender profile, it is going to be a bait that he relies on when he is confronted with clear-water situations and when the black bass fishing is problematic. What’s more, its slenderness will make it more efficient for him to use in deep-water scenarios; it will sink quickly, and he says it will stay down without all the “lift” that larger profile swimbaits have.
When anglers use it in tailraces, rivers, or other current situations, the staff at Northland has found that their Current Cutter Jig is the most effective jig to employ.
The IMPULSE Core Swimbait is available in the following colors: Chartreuse, Green Pumpkin, Olive Green, Orange, Pink Firecracker, Silver Shiner, Smelt, and White Pearl. It has a vividly colored core, which runs through the middle of its torso. And the ribs and outer portions of the torso are clear, which gives it an unique hue that replicates a variety of small fishes that black bass forage upon.
Anglers can purchase a package of six 2 1/2-inchers and a package of five 3 1/2-inchers for $4.99. Anglers who are in search of a slightly larger version can purchase a package of four 4 1/2-inchers for $4.99.
(1) On Feb. 27, we talked with Tony Roach of Moose Lake, Minnesota, who field tested the 3 1/2-inch IMPULSE Core Swimbait in the late summer and during the early fall of 2016.
He is not a Midwest finesse angler. Instead, he is a versatile and multispecies angler who employs a wide range of tools and tactics. He also operates Roach’s Guide Service on Lake Mille Lacs, which he has done since 2004.
Last summer and fall, he and his clients used the 3 1/2-inch IMPULSE Core Swimbait to catch an impressive array of smallmouth bass and walleye. They used it around deep-water piles of rocks, shallow-water piles of rocks, submerged vegetation — such as coontail, milfoil, and cabbage — and emergent vegetation — such as bulrushes or reeds. He used it around current breaks on rivers.
He likes to use it on a seven-foot, medium to medium-heavy spinning rod that is spoiled with six-pound-test braided line with a 24-inch fluorocarbon leader that ranges in size from eight-pound to 12-pound test. He opts for the heavier fluorocarbon leader when he is plying lairs that are infested with zebra mussels.
He affixes it to three sizes of jigs: 1/8-ounce, 1/4-ounce, and 3/8-ounce, opting to use the 1/8-ouncer around shallow-water lairs and submerged vegetation and the heavier ones deep-water lairs.
The heads of his jigs are painted white, blue, or gold.
He found that the IMPULSE Core Swimbait was most effective when the water temperature ranged from 55 to 60 degrees. He suspects the same 55- to 60-degree phenomenon will take place during the spring of 2017.
He employs several presentation styles with it. His primary retrieve is a straight swimming presentation, which he periodically punctuates with a significant twitch or shake. He also strolls it behind or nearly behind the boat, which some anglers around Mille Lacs call towing. At times, he employs a hop-and-bounce presentation. And there are times when he will implement a radical pause (which is close to being a deadstick procedure) as he is hopping and bouncing it across the rock piles.
In Roach’s eye, the vividly colored core of the IMPULSE Core Swimbait is a significant element in its effectiveness in the nearly crystal-clear waters that he and his clients regularly ply. He says it replicates the hues of the species that the smallmouth bass and walleye forage upon.
Here is a link to Roach’s website: http://www.roachsguideservice.com/.
(2) Here is the link to Northland Fishing Tackle’s website: https://www.northlandtackle.com/.