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Lure Review

Shellcracker [shel krak-er] - noun : Redear Sunfish : see also BlackDog Bait Company (continued)

Rate of Descent: The sinking Shellcracker has a very slow rate of fall through the water column. For those who like to cover a lot of water quickly, more patience will be required when working this bait. The bait falls perfectly horizontal at a rate of about one foot ever one and a half to two seconds.

A close-up of the bait's scale pattern...

... and a look at the bait's semi-concealed joints.

Components: The Shellcracker is an all wood bait with stainless steel components, a hard, lexan tail, and Daiichi hooks. We fished the bait stock out of the box but have heard from many who prefer to swap out the hooks with some of comparable size from Owner.

This limited edition Crappie color (or a variation thereof) will become a standard color in the near future.

A view down the back of the crappie colored cracker.

Durability: If there is one area of some concern for the Shellcracker, it is in durability. Because it is a wood bait, some extra care is involved in keeping an eye on the paint and making sure chips, cracks, or other worn areas are properly re-sealed or risk water getting into the core of the bait where swelling from the moisture can occur and affect the action. I've been lucky enough not to have any of these issues present themselves during the course of fishing this bait, but figure it is inevitable given the bait's composition. Just be prepared for some regular maintenance and you should be fine.

The Shellcracker features a hard, lexan tail.

Application & Effectiveness: Given the tenuous relationship between bluegill and largemouth bass, the Shellcracker is a bait that can be fished all year long though it really seems to hit its stride once temperatures start to heat up. Once that happens, toss it out to any visible weed clumps or tule patches, let it sit for a bit, then mix your retrieve with a series of pops and handle turns and watch your bait closely!

Though a relatively tall bait in profile, the bait's width is pretty standard for big baits.

Fish just seem to explode on this bait, but you have to stay calm and make sure not to swing unless you see your bait disappear or you feel the fish pulling on the other end of the line. I cannot tell you how many times we've had our baits knocked two to three feet up in the air by angry largemouth and have the bait land back in the water only to be exploded upon once or twice more! Waiting for that proper take can be heart stopping.

One last look at our crappie colored cracker

Availability: The Shellcracker has been readily available for the past year. The only difficulty in acquiring one is if you're looking for some of the limited edition colors. For these, you either have to be fortunate enough to attend an event where BDB is present, or know a tackle store that gets occasional shipments of these beauties for sale.



Black Dog Bait Company Shellcracker Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very nicely crafted and detailed bait 8.5
Performance Good on a steady retrieve, but pretty deadly on a pop and stop 9
Price By big bait standards, relatively affordable 7
Features Wood construction, stainless hardware, the only thing in question might be the hooks but we experienced no problems 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) A beautifully designed and detailed bait 9
Application Great when the weather warms but effective all year long 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Readily Available L Waiting for the take can be challenging
J Does not cost an arm and a leg L Requires attentive maintenance should the finish be compromised
J Beautiful finishes  
J Heart stopping strikes  


Conclusion: Grant Olguin, co-founder of Black Dog Bait Company, relayed to us a story of when they first fished the Shellcracker on the waters of the California Delta. It was in the latter part of the day, maybe an hour or two from dusk. Jeremy Andersen, his partner, had just finished the prototypes. Grant had an hour to kill and wanted to see how the new baits swam so he launched his boat, motored out from the marina, and dropped his trolling motor. He tied the Shellcracker on and within a few casts, had a five pound bass totally annihilate the bait! He was blown away but had to leave. He'd return the next day, and the day after that where this pattern repeated itself each time, and finally, on his third outing, a big, eight pound bass absolutely crushed their new bait. They knew they were on to something and absolutely had to get this bait on the market.


Not a huge bass by any means, but it just goes to show you, even a 3.5lber will attack a bait with as large a profile as the Shellcracker.


Of course, it doesn't end there. Black Dog Bait Company has some big plans for extending their Shellcracker line in the near future - plans which at this writing, we are not at liberty to discuss, but demonstrate the aggressiveness they are taking in moving their company forward and growing their product line. They've also hinted to us about some new products under development and we're anxious to see what they have in the works. In the meantime, the bait that launched their company, the Shellcracker, is showing up in waters across the country and reports very similar to Grant's first experience with this bait are repeating themselves all over. We've yet to land a true monster with this bait, but it is only a matter of time.


Looking for a Black Dog Shellcracker? Try Tackle Warehouse.










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