RatRumble : Narrow Gate Baits's Affordable and Accessible WOOD Rat
||Narrow Gate Baits
Total Score: 7.58 -
For most garage bait builders, making lures is a side hobby and a distraction that allows them to escape their daily routines doing something creative. Some carry it into a full time endeavor, many keep it a side gig. Whichever the outcome, the practice is as intrinsic to bass fishing as the line on your fishing reel. From jigs and spinnerbaits, to hand carved balsa wood plugs, now to big baits, there always seems to be a hot market for custom, hand made baits. Sam Luker is a physical education teacher in Murray, Kentucky and owner of Narrow Gate Baits. He's been making baits since 2018 as a means of spreading his faith in religion as well as his passion for fishing. When he learned of our 2021 Rat Rumble through social media, he was very enthusiastic about submitting his baits to the melee.
Narrow Gate Baits Rat
||Waking & Crankdown
||Available with straight or v-cut joints
||Available in three types of finishes, with straight or v-cut joints, and with a narrow or wide bill
$60 (Stained) : $70 (Custom Paint) : $80 (Distressed)
Impressions & Craftsmanship:
The Narrow Gate Baits Rat is a foot long, three piece bait with a body that measures out about six inches. It's a wooden rat turned on a lathe but each section is hand cut with a dovetail saw. Craftsmanship is raw and a little gritty, very apropos for a rat bait, and the bait itself is offered in three different finishes (stained, painted, distressed) each with their own price point (see table above). The rats are also available with either a straight or v-cut joint and with a wide or narrow lip.
Introducing Narrow Gage Bait's Rat
The least expensive variant of the bait, the stained, is basic while the upper end variant, distressed, comes with a dressed front treble and natural fur tail. Naturally, every bait is treated with a sealant and UV coating to preserve integrity. Luker's rats won't win any beauty contests yet their raw, rugged appearance have a definite appeal. The distressed finish, especially, has the appearance of a dirty, down to no good, rat of a bait that bass will simply destroy.
Narrow Gate Baits offers their rat in 3 finishes at three
different price point, this is the entry level, stained finish that retails
Their painted rats retail for $70
Ready to Rumble: To ensure Narrow Gate's rat bait had every opportunity to walk those dark alleyways and play victim to a few bass with bad intentions, I matched it up with a rod donated by Evergreen International through Daiwa USA for our Rat Rumble, the Combat Stick RCSC-78XH Wakebait. This seven foot, eight inch (7'-8") stick comes with a lure rating of up to four ounces (4oz) and as its nickname suggests, was built for just such an occasion. I paired it with my Ultimate Enthusiast Award winning Conquest DC, but in the 200 size, not 100. I figured if I couldn't hit that squirrel in my front yard with the 101HG, I might as well sling an actual rodent-like bait with the 201HG.
The top end, distressed rat retails for $80
Early in the season, I had my Conquest 201HG spooled with 50lb Seaguar Threadlock with a top shot of 25lb AbrazX as the leader. When it came time to put my Narrow Gate Baits Rats through the paces, I swapped the leader out with 25lb Seaguar Gold Label Fluorocarbon. The change had nothing to do with the bait. It was simply time to move to another leader material in my continuing quest to sample options and discover the pluses and minuses with different product.
Different joint configurations are also available on order. Here
is the flat joint
This is the V-Cut option
Dexterity: Narrow Gate's rat bait weighs in at only two and a half ounces (2.5oz). If you're not accustomed to throwing big baits, this may seem like a lot to you, but for those who are, this bait handles like a light weight. The difference is similar in comparison to a balsa wood and hard plastic crankbait of the same size. What the Narrow Gate's rat has over a balsa wood crank, however, is it is infinitely easier to cast, and with the combo outlined above, I could send this rat some pretty good distances.
At rest, the bait mostly sits on top though there's some
inconsistency in the level at which each section of the bait floats
On splashdown, the Narrow Gate Rat isn't the most refined or consistent with the way it floats on top of the water. Of the three baits I have, two float relatively neutral on top while the third's head sits just a tiny bit submerged. It almost looks as if the bait is taking a peak under the surface looking for a convenient morsel or two to eat. Clicking my reel over all three have a consistent swim with a prototypical, snaky action. The one bait that likes to peak beneath the surface swims perfectly fine and in the same manner as the others.
Another option available at the time of order is bill width. This
narrow bill is a tad easier to fish because it creates less resistance
There are, however, tiny differences in the quality of each bait's swim depending on the lip and joint configurations you choose. Both joint variants have a nice, snaky action, but the V-joint's swim has a little more kick in the tail. Similarly, the wider lip variant of this rat has a wider wake than the narrow lip variant. Mind you, the differences are slight, but they are there. My preference was the variant with the V-cut joint and the wider lip. With wake baits, I want as much disturbance on the surface a bait can create. This particular configuration of the Narrow Gate Rat has the swim and sound I like in a topwater rat with enough rear end action to get the tail snaking consistently.
However, the wider bill creates a more, prototypical action on
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