1988 Rebel Blackstar ad featuring Denny Brauer and George Cochran.

By 1988 there were many major advances in technology that made it to the forefront of bass fishing. Kevlar had made it into boat hulls, liquid crystals were starting to show up in depthfinders and it was difficult to buy a bass rod that wasn’t made out of graphite. Some of these breakthroughs worked – others didn’t – which brings us to the breakthrough Blackstar technology that Rebel was touting.

It’s one thing to come out with a product that sports a new technology, but Rebel decided to incorporate five new concepts into one lure. In my opinion, only one was worthwhile and another falls into the “maybe” category. Three of the ground-breaking technologies, though, made you really wonder about the designers and if they had any experience with fish other than a Mickey-D’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

The first, and probably the craziest, was the “ultra-sensitive” line-tie made from graphite. This concept was supposed to increase sensitivity and allow you to feel a fish when it hit.

I have a couple problems with this thought.  First, graphite is very brittle.  Drop a pencil on the ground and see what happens. The second problem is how will this increase sensitivity between the angler and the bait?  There is anywhere from 50 to 100 feet of stretchy monofilament line between the angler and the bait.  Someone obviously had gotten on the graphite bandwagon and didn’t know when to get off.

The color scheme of the crankbaits, although not a big distraction, was a bit goofy. The baits were touted as having an internal fluorescence – but they didn’t say what that design feature would do for the angler. If you’re going to promote something as a fishing-catching dream, you better have a reason for it.

Rebel also made a lot of noise about how the Blackstar baits were aerodynamically and hydro-dynamically designed for better casting and retrieving. I can see that claim with the crankbaits but take one look at the jerkbait. Having it jointed does nothing for casting distance.

Okay, on to two of the better ideas.

1988 Rebel Blackstar ad featuring their new crankbait and jerkbait.

The first thing that strikes me as revolutionary is the 360-degree ball joint featured on the jerkbait. This feature is remarkable in that if you caught a fish on the rear hook, the fish would have little leverage to throw the hook – like they state.  But what if they eat the front hook, where you want them to hit the bait. In this case, it’s like the ball joint isn’t even there.

This concept was taken a bit further in the early 2000s by Japanese manufacturer Tiemco. Tiemco designed several their baits where the hook hangers themselves were swivels.  Today there are only two manufacturers in the U.S. that do that with their baits, 22nd Century Bait Company, the makers of the Triple Trout, and Bull Shad Swimbaits.

The last feature, and one I’ve always been on the fence about, was their use of blackened hooks, line tie and hook hangers. Personally, I think the flash of the hooks will sometimes attract a fish to bite.

I really like the first ad featuring Denny Brauer and George Cochran. Denny and George were two of the heaviest hitters in bass fishing at the time. I feel bad they were asked to participate in this ad campaign, but I like how they were quoted in the ad.  Neither of them touted anything Rebel was pushing as new and revolutionary. Denny said it had a good wobble while Cochran said it cast good. You can’t fault them for saying what they said.

I give Rebel kudos for trying to design a better lure. But the Black Star is just another example of a bait that was probably designed by someone who didn’t know anything about material science, physics or, more importantly, fishing.