Terry has mentioned the brand Crankbait Corp. before in a post that related to the poor quality, they witnessed in the tackle shop of the body/bill combination of this bait. However, there was some very interesting applied science going on with this particular brand of crankbaits that I thought was worth taking a little extra time to discuss.
Every basser on the planet knows about and has read of natural color patterns on baitfish-colored lures – that being some type of darker back and lighter belly. It’s prevalent on most every bait on the market today, and was even more so back in the late 70s and early 80s when super natural colored baits become the fad. The interesting thing is that at the time, some pros really liked the natural color patterns, and some pros didn’t. That’s probably a whole different story for another time but, suffice it to say, the jury was still out on the issue.
Through the years, that basic color pattern has continued to be a mainstay, but at about the same time as these new natural-patterned baits were just taking off, Crankbait Corp. threw the industry a curveball based on applied science. The theory went that nature made baitfish the way they are in order to help camouflage them from being eaten from predators. Their coloration allowed them to blend into the background of a watery world whether viewed from above or below. The big question then became, “Why would you want to mimic a natural bait if the idea is to get your bait seen and hopefully eaten by a big bass?”
Over the years you’ve probably read comments such as, the reason you don’t see many blue crayfish is because in nature, they stand out and get eaten first. If that were true, wouldn’t you want to make your bait stand out with its color pattern? That became the general theory behind the Crankbait Corp. “HI-CONTRAST” and “FLIP-FLOP” line of baits. The scientific term was called reverse countershading, and famed lure designer Tom Seward mentioned that he came up with the idea after a discussion about WWII fighter planes and how British Spitfire’s were intentionally colored to help hide them from their enemies.
Tom designed a series of 8 different color patterns that made his baits actually stand out in the water instead of trying to blend in. He stated that in stained- or muddy-water situations, or even at night, contrast was much more important than naturalizing, and that was where and when these baits were designed to excel. They were pretty eye-catching, and the science behind them even made them more intriguing to someone such as myself.
I don’t have any idea as to how well they ended up selling – or whether they even elicited bass to strike – but the concept was novel at the time and one could argue that to some degree, over the years, this line of thinking still has its moments. I think of crankbait colors like “skunk,” which I believe was first made popular by Bagley’s and has had a devoted, albeit perhaps small following. Have you had any particular color patterns over the year that have produced well that might be considered a reverse countershade?
In Part II, I’ll look at one other really neat applied science concept from Crankbait Corp. – stay tuned.
Tom Seward was a genius who changed the industry. He wasn’t a tournament angler so he received little press, but his ideas were adopted by most pro’s, including longer rods for crankbaiting and crankbaits using deflection to resist snags. I believe he passed away a few years ago and it didn’t receive any press. Sad, and unsung hero.
Robert, you’re absolutely right. Seward was way before his time and we as fisherman benefited from his ideas and actions.