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Swimbait Review


A Gateway Swimbait – The Gracely Baits Finesse Gill


Date: 2/22/24
Tackle Type: Swimbait
Manufacturer: The Gracely Baits
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.41 - GREAT

Many anglers commonly associate "swim-baits" with "big-baits," and indeed, most swimbaits on the market are full-sized baits necessitating specialized gear to cast. However, there exists a lesser-known category of smaller swimbaits that deliver a comparable experience in a more compact, less daunting form. Gracely Baits played a pivotal role in defining this segment within the custom garage swimbait market, particularly with their small yet potent “gateway” offering, the Finesse Gill.


The Gracely Baits Finesse Gill Specifications

Type Sub surface Glide (chop style)
Length 4.5" (From nose to tail)
No. Pieces 2
Joint Style Angled
Weight 1.25 oz spec (1.15oz.  measured)
Depth Slowsink
Material Resin
Variants One profile, numerous in-house paint finishes and paint collabs
Hooks and Hardware Size 5 trebles, split ring recommended (Size 3)
MSRP $80-$100

The Gracely Baits Finesse Gill (right) compared to a Deps Bullshooter 160. This is a very small swimbait compared to the vast majority of custom baits on the market

Impressions: Gracely Baits, affectionately known as TGB, represents the creative vision of Kyle Gracely, an angler turned builder. As I delved into the offerings and origins of TGB, Kyle shared insights into his personal journey as an angler and his initial venture into baitmaking.

“I have been fishing my whole life. This is something that I actually did as a coping mechanism when growing up. I was fortunate to live near a park pond (where I could go whenever I wanted to), so if there was ever something that would upset me, I could fish. Fishing is not just something that is a “hobby” or a “sport” that I enjoy doing. It is quite literally something that changed my life. Now, as this became something that was more and more of a lifestyle, I started to take it more seriously in my teenage years. I started taking notes about how I was catching fish, the time of year, time of day, and the lures I would catch them on. This led me into the swimbait realm. And I fell in love. Quick. This was so cool to see that there was an entire community of people who loved fishing the way I did, and at the center of it all, there was one thing they all had in common. A love for big baits and BIGGER BASS,” Kyle explained.

One of the best things about this lightweight gill is that it can be fished on conventional tackle. No XH swimbait setup needed here

My introduction to TGB came about during my exploration of various gill glide baits, where I was drawn to the smaller profile of Kyle's Finesse Gill. While many other bait builders were leaning towards larger profiles, Kyle was fully committed to crafting a smaller, finesse-oriented swimbait. The concept of a "finesse swimbait" may initially seem contradictory, sparking ongoing debates about what truly defines a swimbait versus a big-bait.

More on that later.

Comparing the size of the Gracely Baits Finesse Gill (center) to many other gills. The closest in size is the UFO Mini which is a three piece (left of reel handle)

Like numerous other builders, Kyle's initial designs were born out of his surroundings, tailored to address specific needs in his local waters.

“As I became more addicted to big baits, and I started to pay close attention to what the fish were doing in my local park ponds, the first thing I noticed was that they were eating bluegill practically year round. Absolutely crushing them. The other thing I noticed was that when I would throw a big glide bait, they were extremely interested in following the baits. They had commitment issues though. The bluegill in most of my local ponds that were getting eaten were all 3-5 inches, so I knew I needed something different. I began my search to find a small, hand made/garage built bait, but was unsuccessful. There were a couple bait makers that made swimmers around this size, but I could not find a Glide bait that did what I was looking to achieve. This is what made me start looking into making something myself. I started with a swimmer (because it was easy to make), made a few of those, but then decided the glide bait was what I needed. Little did I know, that a small glide bait would be one of the hardest things I had done. It consisted of literal* Blood, sweat, and tears. As I began to figure it out though, it was an addiction. I refined, caught a few fish, refined some more, caught more, and ended up catching my personal best largemouth on the finesse gill. 7 pounds, 8 ounces. I refined it one more time with the company Row Innovations and it was on. I decided to introduce the segment of “Finesse Swimbaits” to the handmade swimbait market.”

When I first started fishing the Finesse Gill I tried lighter swimbait rods like the Megabass P5 Tequilla Baccarac and used reels with braid. I learned that this bait is best fished with slower ratio reels and fluorocarbon lines

Field Tests: After connecting with Kyle on IG I purchased several of his Finesse Gill swimbaits and put them through rigorous testing over two fishing seasons. Unlike most gill glide baits, the Finesse Gill has a very compact design, measuring just over four inches. It features a single joint, molded fins, and a soft, hand-poured tail. With hardware included, the Finesse Gill tips the scales at a mere 32.8 grams (1.15 oz.), rendering it too light for most XH and XXH swimbait-specific rods. However, it casts effortlessly on rods rated up to two ounces, making it compatible with a wide range of setups. While the bait can certainly be paired with rods featuring heavier ratings, the key lies in selecting a rod with a responsive tip capable of launching the bait. I found that rods with a rating of around ½ oz. on the lower end proved optimal for handling this gill. Although I primarily used traditional heavy-powered casting rods, I also found that the Finesse Gill could even be fished with heavier spinning gear in a pinch.

The Finesse Gill is a bite sized snack that gets a lot of bites

Operation: The ability to fish the Finesse Gill on conventional tackle effortlessly all day makes this an excellent choice for beginners venturing into swimbait territory. Unlike many other baits, the Finesse Gill won't leave your arms and shoulders fatigued after a day of casting. While you can fish the Finesse Gill with braid or a braid leader combination this is a swimbait that can easily be fished with mono or fluorocarbon lines from 10-15lbs., the lighter lines improve casting distance but I feel that 12lb. is the sweet spot in terms of handling and still having plenty of tensile strength to muscle fish.

A look at one of Kyle's own crappie paint patterns. Notice the signature "TCB" above the anal fin

When I first started fishing the Finesse Gill, I experimented with various retrieval techniques. While a constant retrieve proved effective, I've had the most success with a crank-and-pause retrieve. After casting, allowing the bait to settle before employing this method has consistently yielded the best results for me.

The Finesse Gill truly shines with precise reel manipulation, living up to its name by requiring a touch of “finesse” to produce its signature side-to-side darting motion. With just a hint of finesse in your reel bumps, this small swimbait glides to life, captivating fish with its frantic yet lifelike movements. Particularly in waters teeming with sunfish or when bass are actively feeding near the surface, the Finesse Gill proves to be an effective swimbait choice, eliciting strikes from fish of all sizes swiftly and consistently, and while it does catch a lot of fish in the 1 to 3lb class I’ve also caught fish up to six pounds with this tiny gill.

I found the Finesse Gill to be an ideal pairing with lighter rods and 12 to 14lb. fluorocarbon line. Learning how to "finesse" this bait is the key. It is a smaller bait and needs to be fished as such

I did however find that it was possible to blow out the bait by over working it, as an example trying to exaggerate action with your rod tip can make the bait look unnatural in the water. While a straight retrieve can be effective when fish are actively feeding, I found that the majority of strikes occurred when I maintained a steady rod tip and utilized half cranks on reels with a 6.3:1 gear ratio. Even less rotation is necessary when using higher speed reels outfitted with longer (110mm) aftermarket handles. It's essential to test and adjust for your specific setup, as finding the perfect cadence is key to bringing the Finesse Gill to life.

Kyle is working on larger versions. Here the Finesse Gill is next to a full sized prototype

The ability to fish the Finesse Gill with exaggerated action without burning it can actually be a real advantage, especially in situations where bass are suspended or lurking near structure. I've personally experienced considerable success when fishing the bait around cover, where bass would often dart out to ambush the Finesse Gill. Upon comparing field notes with Kyle, I found that he shares a similar experience and preferred approach to fishing the bait. Kyle mentioned that he particularly enjoys targeting shallow ambush points and has achieved a lot of success by working rocky points and large laydowns.

These larger baits are best fished with traditional swimbait setups and offer a similar chop style glide, just with a bigger profile and displacing more water

Next Section: Optimizing the Finesse









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