If I had to choose only one plastic bait and fish with it for the rest of my like it would be a D.O.A. lure. Specifically, it would be the C.A.L. 3-inch Shad Tail. I know, the shrimp is great and I have caught tons of fish on the Terroreyz, the Jerk Bait, and the Baitbuster, but I have caught more fish on the Shad Tail.
During my years as a fishing guide it was important to catch fish, lots of fish. Seventy percent of my clients came from Orlando where they were visiting the theme parks. They would take one day off from Disney, Universal Studios or Sea World to come to the beach. Ninety percent of them had kids and they wanted their kids to catch fish.
That really sums it up. The kids had to catch fish so I choose the one lure that I always caught the most fish on. Even the kids could fish with and catch fish on the C.A.L. Shad Tail. I would jokingly instruct them to “throw it out, reel it in, take off the fish. Throw it out, reel it in, take off the fish.”
I am trying to remember when I first heard that statement. It isn’t original to me. I even think it may have come from the big cheese at D.O.A. himself, Mark Nichols, but don’t hold me to it. At any rate, regardless of where I heard it, the Shad Tail is that easy to use. It worked often enough to make a lot of those customers repeat customers. You knew you did a good job when they left the dock saying, “See you next year.”
Ease of use is the first thing the bait has going for it. The tail produces a vibrating wiggle that mimics swimming baitfish. It will catch anything you put it in front of. Redfish will gulp it in a second; Trout will fight for the right to eat it; Snook will slurp it up and pull like hell. Add tarpon, flounder, and snappers and you have named only a few of the species it will catch.
On those days when I had kids on board there was nothing better than finding a school of hungry jacks or lowly ladyfish. Toss the C.A.L. Shad Tail in the mix and it was fish on. By the way, that’s the whole idea with kids. They need action. They need to be catching lots of fish, and size really doesn’t matter. I have always thought jacks and ladyfish were kind of underrated because of their ability to supply plain old fun on the end of the line. I will give em’ a go anytime, just for the sheer fun of it.
The color selection is great too. The current website store shows 50 colors to choose from. I started most days on the water with 4 or 5 rods sporting 4 or 5 different colors. I let the customers help me find the one that was working best on any given day. Once a hot color was found I would put it on all the rods and let the fun begin.
Over the years my personal color choices became Nite Glow, Silver Glitter, Electric Chicken, Watermelon Seed and Rootbeer with Chartreuse tail. Try them all until you develop your own favorite and you will catch more fish because you have confidence in them. It may sound a little peculiar, but having confidence in your bait will make a difference. Ask any pro guide; he/she will tell you the same thing.
Fishing in saltwater I normally rig them on a 1/4 or 1/8 ounce D.O.A Short Shank Jig Head. My personal favorite color was the red jig heads. Sometimes I rig them weedless on a Daiichi Fat Gap Hook when the topwater bite is on.
The retrieve really can be as simple as reeling it in. Vary the speed to determine what the fish like best on a given day. Personally I like to add a little action. My most successful retrieve has always been a herky-jerky retrieve, also being sure to try different speeds. The herky-jerky retrieve requires flicking the wrist to produce a diving, rising and sideways swimming motion. Vary the rhythm by the number of wrist flicks. The erratic presentation simulates an injured baitfish and often brings the strike.
So there it is, I’ve said it. If I had to choose one plastic bait and fish with it for the rest of my life it would be a C.A.L. 3-inch Shad Tail and I would rig it on a red D.O.A. Short Shank Jig Head. It would not matter if I was simply fishing for fun, or putting some fish on the table, my choice would be the same. If you haven’t already, try it you’ll like it!