Welcome to the IMA Emailer – November 2010 Issue
The IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA and worldwide.
To paraphrase 1980s crooner Huey Lewis, once again it’s “hip to be square.”
IMA pro Bill Lowen has a longstanding love affair with square-billed
crankbaits but even though there are “hundreds of them on the market” no
production model to date had fully encompassed the legendary hunting
action of the small-manufacturer balsa baits. And the balsa baits – when
you can get them – aren’t consistent. One might hunt and dive to a
certain depth, while another runs straight at a different depth or needs
constant tuning. Lowen has waited his entire professional angling
career for one bait that consistently gets the job done, and now he has
it – Introducing the IMA Square Bill.
This lure is truly Lowen’s baby, a tool he’s dreamed about for
decades finally come to life. After countless back and forth
conversations with IMA’s engineers in Japan and mulitple refinements and
prototypes, he’s convinced that no other square bill can match his
Square Bill. It has a stubby, rounded body that produces an
earth-shaking wobble, bold eyes, a lexan lip and two sticky-sharp #4
Owner hooks that’ll nab even the short strikers, although most bass
absolutely choke this bait down.
“It acts like the best handmade balsa baits,” Lowen said. “It’s kind
of hard to explain. Every crankbait has a wobble, but the good balsa
crankbaits hunt. They’ll jump off to the left, run a bit, jump off to
the right, and always work their way back to the center. That action
The top balsa producers also are very buoyant. This allows an angler
to do what Lowen described as “twitching” a crankbait. You bang it into
cover at breakneck speed, let it float back up and then impart a little
bit of action with quick pulls of the rod tip. “It’s like walking the
dog under the water,” he explained. “Deflect, pause, twitch. You can
snug them up to the cover, let up a little bit and they’ll head toward
the surface like a bobber.”
The problem with the balsa baits, other than their inconsistency, is
their durability – or rather their lack of durability. Just when you
think you have one running right, you hang it on a stump and it never
performs correctly again. That’s not a problem with this Square Bill. It
also features a circuit board lip which fellow IMA pro Bill Smith says
is a lot more durable than its lexan counterpart. “With lexan if you
beat it on the rocks it’ll chip,” he explained. Lowen likes the lip made
this way for another reason: “It helps it to deflect off cover a little
bit harder. You can feel the difference in your rod.”
Note – Be sure to check out all of the other short video clips about
the Square Bill and other ima baits @
Lowen begged the IMA design team to engineer this bait to fit his
“river rat,” ultra-shallow fishing style. It runs a bit shallower than
some other crankbaits of this genre, diving perhaps three feet on 12 lb.
line and two feet on 15 lb. test. If you want to burn it over grass or
in the shallowest water possible, upsize to 20 and it’ll still maintain
its hunting action.
“It’s the best possible bait for going back in the creeks, into the real skinny places that take forever to get to,” Smith said.
“Lowen said there’s a reason he wanted it to go shallower than its
counterparts. “That way it doesn’t dig up the bottom,” he said.
“Generally the bottom in those areas is mucky and muddy with leaves
everywhere. If it picks up all that trash you can’t fish it right. But
it still dives enough to crash off cover.”
In addition to being a professional tournament angler, Smith owns a
leading tackle retailer, Backwaters Online, so
he comes at this lure from two angles. He knows what he’s doing with a
crankbait stick, but he knows that not all of his customers have the
same experience level. “They can still go after the handmade niche,” he
said. “This lure does the work for those who don’t know how to fish it.”
He says it’ll excel anywhere fish are shallow and is dying to fish it
on lakes like Dale Hollow and Cherokee, near his home (“Bill (Lowen) can
have the Ohio River,” he joked.) “The best thing about this bait is the
ability to go shallow and crash cover as hard as you can.” Whether you
fish the Ohio River, the Calfornia Delta, the Potomac’s grassbeds, Lake
Champlain or anyplace in between, this is a tool with universal
application any time the bass are resting in the shallows, waiting for
an easy meal.
“You can burn it and it won’t roll over or blow out,” Lowen added.
That’s the beauty of the Square Bill. It’s really three or four baits
in one. While some other square bills are good burned, others are at
their best when they’re waked or twitched. Some do well deflecting off
cover while others are best in open water. The Square Bill can match
each of the competitors’ attributes and talents, with no weakness. In
fact, Lowen frequently mixes it up on a single retrieve, going “from
twitching to waking, to reeling it down to three feet to burning it.”
It’s not just a jack of all trades – it’s a master of each one, too.
Lowen said that while crashing cover is his primary purpose when
chucking the Square Bill, he also uses it in wide open water for
schooling fish. “People say that suspended fish are the hardest to
catch,” he said. “A lot of times you’ll find them suspended in three
feet of water over 10 or 12 feet. Fish it just like you do in cover – a
straight retrieve, pause, twitch – almost like fishing a jerkbait.”
One place he’ll be sure to have it tied on is at the upcoming
Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. While New Orleans is thought
of as spinnerbait and flipping stick country due to the miles of
hyacinths and reeds, he noted that it is also “full of cypress trees
with lots of knuckles to drag a crankbait into.”
The Square Bill will be available in 9 colors. Both anglers say that
consumers coast-to-coast can build a starter pack out of a craw pattern,
a shad pattern and something in chartreuse to imitate a bluegill or
fish in dirtier water. You can add other regional favorites to the top
shelf of your tackle box as you see fit, but those three basics comprise
a good starting point.
Lowen, being an inveterate tackle tinkerer, has experimented for
years with “foiling” his cranks. “Foil finishes are the most realistic
as far as flash goes, even better than just about any baitfish-colored
paint job,” he said. Silver sides with gray, black or green backs are
all on his bait menu, although he noted that “it’s hard to do and
expensive.” He does the foiling himself after years of practice but then
gets a friend to finish off the paint job. It’s a skill that can be
learned if you have the patience.
Both pros fish the Square Bill on a typical cranking stick – 6’9” in
Smith’s case, a 7’ All Pro for Lowen – and with a 6.3:1 or 6.4:1 gear
ratio reel. That allows them to slow it down and maintain power when
dealing with a big fish, but they can still burn the bait when a faster
retrieve is required. This is one of the few techniques where mono can
be employed. In fact Lowen prefers it when he’s trying to keep the lure
shallow, although he’ll sometimes switch up to fluorocarbon if he wants
to grab a few extra inches of diving depth.
When fished properly, the results of the ima Square Bill will be All Smiles & if you’re lucky a really bruised bass thumb!!
The IMA Square Bill won’t be available to the public until late
February of 2011, just in time for the spring cranking bite. It’s not
quite a 12 month out of the year presentation, but it’s pretty darn
close. “It’s not really season-specific,” Lowen said.
Both Lowen and Smith employ it from the prespawn, when fish start to
move up onto cover by the flats in anticipation of spawning, through the
heat of the summer and into the fall, when the fish start to school up
and chase bait.
In the meantime, why not ask your loved ones to put a few IMA baits
in your stocking? Better yet, show them that you really love them by
giving the people you treasure the best hard baits on the market.
In addition to using IMA products at the end of your line, you can
also wear the company logo proudly. After numerous requests from
educated anglers, we’ve brought IMA apparel to a tackle dealer near you.
We have short and long sleeve shirts available in both white and navy
blue, boat towels and beanies, along with baseball hats. As with IMA hard baits , they’re of the highest possible quality and will make a
splash at your next bass tournament or out on the town.
As always, we’d love to hear about the fish that IMA lures produce
for you, whether on your home body of water or on the trip of a
lifetime. Please send pictures of your fish, preferably with an IMA bait
in its mouth, and a short description of what made the catch memorable.
Each month we’ll pick one winner who will get to choose the apparel
item of his or her choice as a thank you for supporting and using IMA products .
This month’s winner goes to Rick of Sacramento, CA who used the Big Stik on this nice Largemouth Bass.