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Lure Review


A new Swimbait entry, the Flex Phantom from Strike Pro (continued)

 

Retrieve cont'd: It was when I was playing with the lure on pauses when a dark shadow emerged from the nearby vegetation and chomped the Phantom. I didn’t even have to set, which was a good thing since I really wasn’t ready for it, there was no mistaking that this fish wanted the Phantom in a bad way. Halfway back to the boat the fish went aerial and we knew it was a big fish. Seconds later the Flex Phantom had claimed a fish just shy of double digits.

 


The Flex Phantom dives 3-5 feet with the crankbait style diving lip

Since that day on Clear Lake the Flex Phantom has landed more fish on the Delta. The most productive size for us has been the small size, but as can be expected it is also a dink magnet. I haven’t caught another big bass on the Phantom 170 but have had followers on multiple occasions. I believe this lure is less about mimicking an actual fish but more about inciting curiosity and impulse strikes from fish. The tail on this lure is downright spastic as far as swimbaits go.


A look at the profile of this mean looking bait

Durability: The obvious weak point in this lure is the multi segmented tail but we were very surprised by how strong the tail was to both forward and backward pressure as well as rotational torque. The company describes the design as a patented “Bike Chain” joint system, and the description is pretty spot on. The tail is connected by very small double links, and the result is a lure that has a very free range of motion yet is still durable. If you think about it the tail really will not be stressed much as there is only one hook on this lure and it is connected to the main body of the lure.


A look at the top of the lure

Also interesting on this lure are the patterns. Most of the patterns are ghost variations, but there are solids as well like our pearl white test lure. The finish on the lures look equally good both above and below the water. We cast both types of lures directly into structure which resulted in a few scratches but no paint chipped off the lure. We were surprised that contact with the rocks did not result in any broken fins, another testament to the construction of the Phantom. Overall the Phantom is certainly more durable than it looks and will hold up to big fish.


From this angle you can see the bicycle chain construction

Price & Applications: Swimbaits are among the most expensive of lures, sure there are the affordable paddletails and flukes, but the multi-jointed hard baits are functional works of art, and many of these handmade offerings are priced like Picassos. There are many swimbait anglers out there that are casting lures that are actually more expensive than the rods they are throwing them with. The Flex Phantom is not one of these costly swimbaits however, and is mass produced like other baits from Strike Pro. The lures retail for a very reasonable 12.99 for the 3 ˝” size and another two dollars for each larger size. For 12.99 to 16.99 the Flex Phantom is among the most aggressively priced hard multi-segment swimbaits on the market.

 
A 9.7lb Clear Lake bass that inhaled the lure during testing

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Strike Pro Flex Phantom Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Phantom looks like it  would have problems with the tail construction but it holds together well and is build with quality components and a patented "Bicycle Chain" design 7
Performance The lure performs fairly and there are a number of different sizes for different applications. This lure is not as good when the fish are looking for a more subtle swimbait. The lure is best when the fish are aggressive and we look forward to getting into some spots and stripers with this lure (this may improve the rating in this category) 6
Price A great price for a lure that is very entertaining to fish 8
Features The lure's main features are the unique tail and embedded flash strip. We would have loved a second hook in the tail for short strikes 7
Design (Ergonomics) This lure is easy to toss and fishes like a crankbait. It doesn't fish like most other swimbaits and can be even worked like a jerkbait in some applications 7
Application Though not a true trout imitating swimbait the lure does work on bodies of water that have trout as well as those that do not 7

Total Score

7.00
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here

 

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Easy to use, fishes like a crank L Only one hook, fish need to hit the center of the lure
J Entertaining to fish L Not a true trout imitator
J Multiple retrieves  
J Very reasonable price  

  

Conclusion: The smaller Flex Phantom 90 is more like a crankbait than a swimbait but the two larger sizes are a welcome addition to the swimbait foray. The Flex Phantom blends crankbait and swimbait design with a unique patented tail to create one of the most entertaining new lures to fish. Luckily for Strike Pro this lure isn’t just entertaining to fish, but is proven to be effective at garnering attention from fish as well. As with other swimbaits big baits catch big fish and if you are looking for quality over quantity then the Phantom170 is going to be your best bet. We are going to experiment with adding a stinger or second treble into the rear of the lure and see if it negatively effects the swim pattern but in its current form the Flex Phantom is a quality new swimbait/crankbait hybrid that is both easy and fun to fish, not to mention that is a good deal for only 15-17 dollars.

 

                                        

 

 

   

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