Working at a fishing magazine, you see myriad baits touted as The Next Big Thing. But most times, you take one look and think “Next Big Flop.”
I imagine that’s the reaction many fishing-industry types had when they first saw the now famous Alabama Rig. It looks like a scalp massager with lures attached for heaven’s sake!
Bass pro Paul Elias saw potential in the weird-looking contraption, however, destroying an FLW tournament field by bagging 20 bass over four days weighing 103 pounds – and that, in a fall tournament. Suddenly, everyone wanted an Alabama Rig and every major fishing media outlet was writing about them.
In that media scrum, I’m sure, were some outdoor media types that scoffed at the A-Rig at first blush, missing the boat on the biggest bass-fishing phenomenon since the Chatterbait.
That occurred to me this week as I opened a box sent over by NAFC Product Testing Editor Donna Thoele. In it were four new Reel Keel crankbaits produced by Kiko Fishing Inc, a company that recently participated in our Product Testing program.
Was I looking at the next Next Big Thing in bass fishing?
I don’t know yet. It’s design is unique, but not revolutionary looking. Still, I know I won’t judge this book by its cover – or this fish by its scales, to coin an appropriately fishing-centric phrase.
“Most realistic swimming action ever seen”
Looking much like an oversized popper-type plug (sans a cupped face), the Reel Keel 400 Pro Series lure’s most unique feature is the thin, metal blade extending like a long fin along its belly – the titular “keel.”
This keel, the lure’s designers explain, “ensures that the lure produces a natural swimming effect” that will attract and catch bass, pike, muskie, salmon, trout, redfish and walleye. The 4-inch lures come in ten color combinations.
Described as a “fishing system,” rather than just a single-application lure, the Reel Keel 400 Pro was designed to:
• Float for top-water applications
• Dive and swim “to multiple levels, allowing the angler to “control the depth.”
• “Walk the dog” both on the surface and underwater
• Attract fish with the keel’s flash—“like a built-in silver spoon”
The keel was designed to offer “lure stabilization” at both fast and slow cranking speeds—“You just can’t reel in the lure too fast or too slow and lose its patented move.”
That all adds up to a product that promises to “replicate the most realistic swimming action ever seen from a fishing lure.”
That’s a pretty big Next Big Thing claim. Can it live up to such promotion?
At first blush, I like the sub-surface swimming action observable in the video below.
(Note: The blog text continues below the video players. Scroll down to continue reading.)
A few more videos are available here.
I have not had a chance yet to throw a Reel Keel myself, but I’m intrigued enough to set one aside for a field test of my own this spring.
But I’m just one drop in a big bucket. To really get a feel for how this—or any—new fishing product performs, you’d be wise to solicit feedback from larger group of experienced anglers. A Field Testing pool, for example.
You see, that’s the real benefit of our product-testing program. Sure, it’s a benefit to YOU, especially when you receive a test product with a value greater than your yearly Club dues. In fact, some members join simply to participate in the program, hoping for a lottery-like windfall right out of the gate. But the product-testing program is even better for the gander than it is for the goose.
The Field Test program help steer our 500,000-plus members towards The Next Big Thing and away from The Next Big Flop. That’s why our fishing-industry partners value so highly the NAFC Field Test Seal of Approval. And that’s why we value so greatly the opinions of our product testers.
7.3 of 10 rating
So, how did the Reel Keel 400 Pro fare in the Field Test crucible? Pretty well. It received an overall rating of 7.3 out of 10—an 85% favorable response—earning it NAFC’s Field Test Seal of Approval.
“It really casted good against the wind or with the wind,” reported Fishing Club product tester Donald Estes of Hollywood, Florida. “It casts a country mile and has good action.”
“This lure will take the place of three lures,” reported Howard J. Miles of Elemndorf, Texas. “After using the Reel Keel, I will be buying more of them to replace other lures in my tackle box.”
Reel Keel 400 Pro Series lures retail for $15. They are available at reelkeel.com.
Is a Reel Keel worth that price?
A majority of NAFC product- test reviewers say “Yes.”
Is it The Next Big Thing?
I dunno. Let’s see if someone wins $100,000 in a tournament with it!
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You can contact North American Fishing Club Social Media Editor “Web Guy Greg” Huff at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter at lazy_ike, or friend him on Facebook at Web Guy Greg. He’s also the editor behind most of the posts on the Fishing Club’s Facebook page and the tweets at @NAFishClub..