Castaic Soft Bait Company Re-Enters the Hard Bait Market With Their New, Platinum ROCK HARD!
||Castaic Soft Bait
Total Score: 7.17 - GOOD
Introduction: One of the oldest names in the big bait business is "Castaic". Originally founded by Ken Huddleston and Chomp Josephite in the early 1990's as Castaic Lure Company, the entity has since gone through a couple of different reincarnations. Most recently was a merger with Nature Vision, Inc., an outdoor technologies firm probably most famous for their Aqua-Vu line of underwater cameras. Just before this merger, however, Jason Scott, Co-Founder of Castaic Softbaits was hard at work developing a signature series of big baits bearing the name of trophy bass hunter Mike Long. It was to be a hardbait version of the company's Platinum Series Trout bait (also designed by Scott), a three sectioned soft bodied bait with a very realistic s-pattern swimming motion. Introducing Castaic Softbait's Rock Hard Platinum, a Mike Long signature series swimbait.
Castaic Softbait's Rock Hard Platinum Series Swimbait Specifications
||Float (F), Slow Sink (SS), Fast Sink (FS)
||4", 6", 8", 10" (8" F = 3.7 oz : 8" SS = 3.9 oz)
||Five Total: Baby Bass, Blue Shad, Golden Shiner, Green Shad, Rainbow
||4"-$24.99 : 6"-$31.99 : 8"-$39.99 : 10"-$49.99
Background: Castaic Soft Baits was founded in 1996 by Ken Huddleston and Jason Scott when Castaic Lure Company split into two separate entities. In 2001, Ken Huddleston left selling his interests to Jason Scott who remained the sole owner until the merger with Nature Vision, Inc. at the beginning of this year. Despite the merger, Scott remains heavily involved in the company that has been part of his life for more than ten years.
Introducing Castaic Soft Bait Company's Rock Hard swimbait.
Through all this time, Castaic Soft Baits has been regarded as one of the giants in the big bait marketplace by making their diverse and sometimes, very unique product accessible and obtainable to the masses. Unfortunately, with that accessibility, sometimes comes unrealistic expectations, and so, while the Castaic Soft Bait's product line is diverse, and for the most part, easily accessible, the company has taken some hard knocks with regards to the quality of their product.
The Golden Shiner color rigged and ready to go.
Our direct experience with this company's baits is very limited. Both Zander and I have some of their Platinum Series soft bodied trouts, but neither of us have thrown them for any extended period of time. When we saw the new Rock Hard version of these baits at ICAST 2007, all this was about to change.
These baits are so light, I fished them on unconventional gear as a test for both the gear and the bait.
Impressions: The Rock Hard represents
Castaic Soft Bait Company's first resin-based hard bodied bait and was designed as a hardbait version of their original Platinum Series soft bodied trout. To maintain the same, fluid, s-swimming action of their Platinum softbait, however, Jason Scott decided to implement another joint right at the tail.
Notice anything different about this bait?
From a distance, the results are very impressive. This is one well detailed bait with very good proportions and realistic features. Up close, however, the bait is not as inspiring. The paint jobs are not very intricate and build quality is again, suspect. Of course, at more than half the cost of some of the premium baits on the market, it's really hard to expect much more.
How about the
patented front hook design held in place by a cleverly placed magnet?
The Field Tests: So, less than inspired and with baits in hand, we took to some of our local waters here in Northern California to see what the ultimate judges of this bait, the fish, had to say,
after all, any bait can be designed to catch fisherman, but as any big bait thrower knows, it's what the fish think that really counts.
Complete test rig for Castaic Softbait's Rock Hard Platinum Series Swimbait Field Tests
||Kistler Helium LTA He711TXHC (2008 Edition)
||Daiwa Japan, 2004 Limited Custom TDZ 103HL
||20lb Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon
We acquired three baits for testing. Two eight inch floaters and one eight inch slow sink bait. The weights of these baits ( 3.7 ounces and 3.9 ounces respectively ) are actually quite surprising for eight inch hard bodied baits. Surprising in a good way. They are much lighter than we had anticipated making them so much easier to throw. As a result, I fished this bait on a rather unconventional setup - the redesigned, 2008 Kistler Helium He711TXHC flipping stick paired with my slightly upgraded 2004 Limited Edition TD-Z Custom in Metallic Blue (a.k.a. my Superman reel). Spooled on this flipping outfit was 20lb Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon.
The rear hook is a conventional treble. All hooks on these baits are made for Castaic Soft Bait by Eagle Claw.
I know what those of you who have paid attention to our big bait journey and fluorocarbon reviews are thinking, "he's using fluorocarbon to throw swimbaits again after losing that $150 bait on a cast?" My response is yes, it's been a slow journey back, but more and more, with baits under four ounces, I'm taking my chances with this product again because I just like the way fluorocarbon fishes.
The Blue Shad Floater in the water.
Casting: As suspected, due to the lower than expected weight of these baits, casting is a real breeze. Sidearm, overhead casts, and even pitches are all made with relative ease, and actually, it's quite refreshing using these baits for an extended period of time. They don't beat you up like other
similarly sized, but much heavier baits can.
Not the most realistic paint scheme we've seen.
Action: Of course, the real question in everyone's mind is how do these baits look in the water, right? In a word? Impressive. The swimming action of these baits is very fluid and very reminiscent of the bait they're based off of, Castaic Soft Bait's soft bodied Platinum trout.
Check out the balancing act of the 8" slow sink resting on the bottom!
An important note here though is that the slow sink version seemed to be more consistent in the water, cast after cast, than our floating baits. At times, the floating baits didn't want to swim right, but the slow sink came back time after time, swimming in that enticingly natural s-pattern. This bait can be mesmerizing at slow speeds.
A close up of the Golden Shiner color.
Another benefit to the slow sink is that once it touches down on the bottom, it does a crazy balancing act on the rear treble appearing to suspend just off the bottom like a real fish! Give it a quick jerk and it will dart away from it's spot, and, if you feed it some slack just after that jerk, it will turn around right then and there as if to check out who or what scared it off of its spot - sick!
The front treble does tend to get knocked loose on impact but this does not affect the bait's swimming motion.
Naturally, the floating and slow sink version can be made to do this same dance in the middle of a retrieve, but it's just all the more realistic when done so off the bottom. Of course, we did not purchase a fast sink to test its capabilities but we imagine the same effect can be had with this version of the bait as well.
However, the rear treble has a tendency to get caught in one of the joints and this DOES affect the bait as you're bringing it back in the water.