Can I start the review off saying what a fun it has been to be picked as a Bait Junkie field tester. I am based in Queenstown and all my tests were done on the fresh water, mainly targeting brown trout, rainbow trout, land locked salmon and red fin perch. It is unlike the saltwater fish, freshwater fish can be a little bit more selective and difficult to entice the bites. I had fun experimented the Bait Junkies for near 2 months to get the best out of it, and here are the findings.
Bait Junkie certainly is different from the other soft baits in many ways, it is made with with the Elastomax material, which is more jelly like textures and floppier than the other soft baits. My initial thought was “Does this hold on the hook long enough for repetitive casts we do in fresh water?” To my surprise it did!
Despite the first impression, soft body grips on the ribs of the jig head shanks very well, and even with the fish biting on it, it hangs to the hook well, at least as durable as any other soft baits in New Zealand market. Of cause there is a limit to the grip strength of the Bait Junkie, after repeatedly hooked and unhooked on the hooks for a few times or being bitten few times, it will eventually start to loosen its grip and start sliding down the hook shank, however that little bit of niggle is compensated by the fish’s eagerness chewing on the soft body, and not spooking them on the short bites. It quite often gave me another chance to have a go at the spooky fish that normally is a lost opportunity.
Due to the Elastomax body, the action of the Bait Junkie is a lot softer than the competitive softbaits, so, instead of the conventional straight slim body with fast tail wobble, Bait Junkie body wobbles and swings more dynamically. Which has an advantage and disadvantage to the anglers. In the situation when the fish cannot see the softbait itself, in murky waster or fish are certain distance away, having more conventional harder body softbait with fast tail wobble is definitely an advantage, by sending nervous tremor across the water more vividly. On the other hand, Bait Junkie body wobbles in more dynamic ways, so when fish can see the bait itself it will seem to have more curve appeal for them visually, and certainly when they bite on it and stretch the tail, or on the aggressive short bites and didn’t get hooked, Softer body seem to make them more eager to come back for second and third bites.
In most occasions, slight difference in the body textures does not make that much differences, once the fish sets the mind up to grab it, they will smash the bait regardless. However in slow moving water or a shallow edge of the lakes, having the soft body makes a huge difference to the fish mojo. It could possibly be the difference between getting a bite or not. Each angler has their own theory on the textures of the soft baits, however result of my testing was stacked in favor of the softer body of Bait Junkies.
Next thing I’d like to talk about is the floating body of the Bait Junkies. This buoyant material is really what sets the Bait Junkie apart from others in my view. If you are just fishing it with a jig head, and sending them down to the depth of the water and jigging back up, it may not make that much difference, however the having this floating body opens more opportunities for fishing in traditionally difficult places for spinning anglers. When fishing the long shallow shelf over the weed bed, or in the slow backwaters, I experimented with fishing Bait Junkie with just a worm-hook (example: https://bit.ly/3uYxdir ), on it. When I needed a little more weight, I either added a small split shot or fly-tying beads in Carolina or Drop Shot rigs. I must say I had a whole lot of fun doing cat and mouse with half heartedly cruising trout in shallow waters. For ambushing predator likes of Red Fin Perch, having been able to hold the semi floating soft bait in one area for longer with drop shot rig, it was a huge advantage to get the bites as well.
Even when you fish with the jig head, if you have a big enough bodied Bait Junkie, back end of the soft bait is floating in angle swaying in the current, you could cast well ahead of the cruising trout and hold it in the spot, setting trap until fish gets close enough without getting hang on the bottom. So if you are a nerdy angler like I am or getting frustrated with the limit of fishing with jig heads, have a go at the ultra light rigs, it may give you more opportunities to catch the difficult fish.
Bait Junkie also comes with a hook point protecting indentation on the spine of the body, which allows the point of the worm-hook to sit low against the body without getting caught in the weeds or structures. So we no longer need to bury the point of the worm hook back into the body of the softbait itself to avoid hooking up on the weeds, and it also allows the better hook sets on strike, a very clever and thoughtful little design in deed.
Thanks to Daiwa NZ’s generous supply, I have been able to try a few colors and sizes but there definitely are favorite colors for certain situations. Fishing the Southern Lakes region, I used more vivid colors for fishing the glacial waters. Colors like Chartreuse, Banana Split, Pink Grow, Creaming Soda, and if I had more black numbers likes of motor oil, I’d happily use them too. In weedy lakes, or muddy bottom ponds or bottle green colored deep pools, Camo UV in both minnow and grub shape were a huge hits, as well as Ayu and Baby Bass colors. In stony bottomed rivers and lakes. I’ve had more success on Ayu, Camo (in small body), Water Melon and Baby Bass. I am sure if I had Mud Blood or Copper Flash that would have been a hit as well. And in the night time, Pink Grow just killed it! The lumo paints on the Bait Junkie held the brightness of the charged light for up to 6-7 casts at a time. Most of those Bait Junkies have UV reflective paints, and it certainly makes more visible to fish in slightly low light conditions likes of cloudy days, dawn and dusk, in deep waters as well as in slightly discolored waters.
If I was to pick a favorite over all color, Camo UV was my pick of the bunch.
I have tried anything from skinny body 2.5inch Minnow to 4inch Grub and trout, salmon and perch didn’t seem to mind the size too much, I have seen less than 1lb fish quite happily attacking the 4inch Grubs. Of cause 4inch Grubs were a little harder for small fish mouse to hold onto, and get a slightly less hook ups rates with such a big body, however it is not such a bad thing not catching small sized ones. And another thing I noticed was, because of the Elastomax body materials It successfully edged the fish on in still water as well, I found using one size up from what you’d normally use, you’d get the better results. For example: In slow/ still water, use Grub shape body or 3.2 inch Minnows. In contrast, when you are fishing either faster/ heavier flow in down and across swing style fishing, you’d want to use skinnier body ones likes of 2.5inch Minnow to restrict the over size body wobble in the fast current.
Because of the softer dynamic body movements of Bait Junkie, you’d get better response from freshwater species for applying more frequent movements of move the rod tips smaller and a little more often, so when I fish around lakes and rivers, I’d normally lift the rod tip up for about 2-3ft quick then wind down the slack, and repeat the movement, however for bait junkie, it is more like twitching the rod tip “Tap-Tap-Tap-Tap-Tap” in the same lifting height as other softbait then wind down the slack, or continuously shaking the rod tip and winding across the water. There are some more experiments to be had. Each waterway is different so get out there and experiment the patterns to suit your water.
In summary, I spent 2 months almost just fishing with Bait Junkie to see how I could have got the best out of it and make the soft bait work for my fishing. Initial impression was “Hum… this soft bait is a bit different!” for all the reasons I mentioned above. I could not entice the fish to bite in normal manors. However once I figured the formula out, and got the depth ranges adjusted, it was like a floodgate opened up. Hook up rates went up in big jump, with the benefits of being able to fish in completely new ways and in traditionally difficult spots. I am sure I have only scratched the surface of its potentials, and more fun ways of fishing and targeting bigger fish as well. I’m going to have some fun for the remaining of the summers experimenting new ways of fishing with it.
Things to note:
Before I wrap this review up, here are a few things you may want to take note of. Bait Junkie is scented with Daiwa Amino X scent, so in the freshwater use it can be classed as bait fishing (even though scent is not the biggest driving factors of triggering fish to bite), so please check F&G regulations and make sure where you are using Bait Junkie is bait fishing allowed water.
Another thing to note is the coating oil of the Bait Junkies does not mix well with other softbaits coating oil. When it’s touching each other or mixed with other softbaits in the same box, oil of the other softbait chemically reacts and melts Bait Junkie body, and contrastingly hardens the other softbaits to very stiff plastic texture. It pays off to put them back into the package sleeves, keep it in the separate container. Even while you are drying them up, I’d keep them slightly apart from other soft baits not to risk melting them.
Lastly with the prevention of the cross contaminating (i.e Dydimo transfer) between the waterways, I do suggest people to disinfect all wet items used in fishing, that includes your reel, hooks, lines, sinkers, and even soft baits, I have been soaking Bait Junkie along with everything else in a container of dish wash liquid solution for a while then rinsing them off and leave them to dry. Bait Junkie body seems to handle the cleaning process well. Just remember to avoid leaving in direct sun for too long.
Over all, I am very impressed and happy with the results of 2 months trial, I can think of a few different ways to unleash more of it’s potential, but that would have to be revealed another time. I will keep updating and posting the new findings and updates on my facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/Rivertalknz So if you still are wondering whether to try Bait Junkie or not, you should!
Grab a pack or two of Bait Junkie and go have fun out there!