A “Sneak Peek” at the 10 BERKLEY TOPWATER LURES introduced at ICAST-2018

Berkley Cane Walker has a weighted tail and is easy to cast.

  • New moderately priced line from Berkley includes walking baits, waking baits, poppers, ploppers and prop baits
  • Ten lure types in 16 size variants and 23 colors
  • Designed by Bassmaster Elite Angler Justin Lucas and Forrest Wood Cup Champ Scott Suggs

By Mike Pehanich

The new Berkley topwater line introduced at ICAST 2018 straddles the surface lure spectrum, from ploppers and poppers to walkers and wakers! 

Pure Fishing has been the subject of sales and contraction rumors since Newell Brands completed purchase of its then-parent Jarden Corp. in spring of 2016. Much of the speculation focused on whether Newell would sell Pure Fishing intact or allow buyers to cherry pick from a stable of venerable tackle brands that includes Berkley, PowerBait, Abu Garcia, Gulp, Pflueger, Shakespeare, Penn, Stren, Fenwick and more.

A big flow of new products appeared highly unlikely, but such was not the case at ICAST 2018 last week, at least not for PF’s flagship Berkley brand. Pure Fishing paraded 1,100 new products for the coming season under the Berkley banner in Orlando.

Topwater line

Berkley is better known for fishing lines and its soft bait supply, a reputation that tends to shroud the success of products like the Flicker Shad and Flicker Minnow.

For the new topwater line, Berkley looked for fresh pro staff inspiration, recruiting Bassmaster Elite pro Justin Lucas for input on eight designs and Forrest Wood Cup champ and MLF/FLW pro Scott Suggs for the other two bait styles. The line includes 10 lure types in 16 size and design variants and 23 colors. All baits are equipped with sticky Fusion 19 hooks.

Poppers

Berkley Bullet Pop comes in three sizes and performs well in both popping and walking presentations.

Bullet Pop 60, 70, 80 – Popper/chugger-style baits have been springboard lures for countless anglers. They compel focus on presentation and invite experimentation, often bringing the first touch of true artistry to a budding angler’s game. Justin Lucas may have had this thought in mind when he designed this trio of popping lures to facilitate popping, spitting and walking retrieves. With three Bullet Pop sizes ranging from 60 to 80 mm in length and 14 colors, there’s a Bullet Pop to match any hatch. Feathered treble hooks tail all three sizes.

Bullet Pop 60: 2-1/4 inches (60 mm); 1/5 ounce (6 g)

Bullet Pop 70: 2-3/4  inches (70mm); 2/5 ounce (11 g)

Bullet Pop 80: 3-1/4 inches (80 mm); ½ ounce (15g)

MSRP: $6.99

Berkley Choppo Lure is a Plopper that generates strikes from a wide range of predator species.

Ploppers

Choppo 90, 120 – You can’t help but anticipate action from the Choppo from the first “plop” of its tail prop! Berkley’s entry into the “plopper” category generates a powerful fish-attracting chop as it churns the water, attracting bass, stripers, pike, musky and other husky predators. Try the smaller Choppo 90 for smallmouth bass and smaller game fish, as well as the usual suspects. Available in 10 colors.

Choppo 90:  3-2/7 inches (90 mm); ½ ounce (15 g)

Choppo 120: 4-5/7 inches (120 mm); 1 ounce (28 g)

MSRP: $9.99

Berkley Drift Walker has a long stride action, perfect for those fish that have seen everything else…till now.

Walking Baits

J-Walker 100  – Justin Lucas made subtle changes to the original cigar-shaped walking bait design to welcome newcomers to the bait walking art. The J-Walker is weighted and fitted with rattles. Available in 14 colors.

J-Walker 100:  4 inches (100 mm); ½ ounce (15 g)

J-Walker 120: 4-3/4 inches (120 mm); 2/3 ounce (20 g)

MSRP: $7.99

Drift Walker 110 – With its broad back and keel design, the Drift Walker is a walking bait with a long-stride finesse style. Three Fusion 19 treble hooks up the hook-up ratio.

Drift Walker 110:  4-1/4 inches (110 mm); ½ ounce (14 g)

MSRP: $7.99

HighJacker 100 – The “fishiest” of the walking baits in the series, the HighJacker’s hydrodynamic tail-weighted fish-shaped body casts long and produces tantalizing tail-down walking action, even when worked at a rapid cadence. Lucas counts it a key tool with schooling bass busting baitfish at the surface. Available in 10 colors.

High Jacker 100: 4 inches (100 mm); 3/5 ounce (18 g)

MSRP: $7.99

The weighted tail and tapered body of the Berkley Cane Walker makes it easy to cast.

Cane Walker 125 – Big fish like big mouthfuls, and large bass, stripers, hybrid stripers and toothy pike and musky are all likely to awaken to the commotion of the tail-weighted Cane Walker. With three sizes of weights confined to separate body cavity compartments, this “pencil” style walking bait delivers a distinctive rattle. Comes with feathered tail treble and in 12 colors.

Cane Walker 125: 5 inches (125mm); 5/6 ounce (24 g)

MSRP: $7.99

Prop Baits

Spin Rocket 110 – Prop bait aficionados may find a new love crush in the Spin Rocket. With its slim profile and flat back, the Spin Rocket draws strikes from a wider range of fish than conventional prop baits. Three Fusion 19 treble hooks promise a high hook-up ratio. Plastic propellers fore and aft generate the surface commotion.

Spin Rocket 110: 4-1/4 inches (100mm); ½ ounce (13 g)

MSRP: $7.99

Spin Bomb 60 – Count on this compact prop bait to count coup when predators are feasting on small forage. A conventional twitch-and-pause retrieve should get ‘er done. Comes with skirted tail treble. Watch the spray fly from this little bait.

Spin Bomb 60: 2-2/5 inches (60 mm); 2/5 ounce (12 g)

MSRP: $7.99

Berkley topwater baits, like this Berkley HighJacker in “Perfect Ghost” color, attract fish from a distance and bring vicious strikes .

Wake Baits

Wake Bull 60, 70 –Crankbait-style wake baits were once well-kept secrets. No more! The Wake Bull’s spacious body cavity emits a deep one-knocker rattle that draws fish from a distance. A Scott Suggs creation.

Wake Bull 60: 2-2/5 inches (60 mm); 2/5 ounce (12 g)

Wake Bull 70: 2-3/4 inches (70 mm); 3/5 ounce (18 g)

MSRP: $6.99

Surge Shad 130, Jointed 130 – Berkley took special pride in presenting its Surge Shad duo. Scott Suggs, who no doubt spent a lot of hours tweaking ancestors of this long minnow-style waker, directed both high-riding wake bait designs. The bait’s patent-pending weight system helped deliver the “exaggerated wobbling action” he was after. The single-bodied Surge Shad, only entry in Berkley’s topwater line-up without rattles, is a stealth tool, ideal for calm conditions and spooky fish. The jointed model produces a more aggressive action and sports rattle attraction as well, making it a better choice in murky water and windy conditions. Both the Surge Shad and the Surge Shad Jointed models come in eight custom-paint finishes, all with FlashDisc attractors on the belly.

Surge Shad 130: 5-1/5 inches (130 mm); 3/5 ounce (17 g)

Surge Shad Jointed 130: 5-1/5 inches (130 mm); 2/3 ounce (19 g)

MSRP: $7.99

Tags: Berkley, ICAST, 2018, Choppo, Bullet Pop, J-Walker, J Walker, Drift Walker, Cane Walker, High Jacker, Spin Rocket, Spin Bomb, Wake Bull, Wakebull, Surge Shad. Justin Lucas, Scott Suggs, Pure Fishing, Mike Pehanich, Small Waters Fishing, Share the Outdoors, Small Waters Outdoors, poppers, chuggers, propeller, lures, bait, walking lure, wakebait, wake bait, prop,

 

Ice Line Systems, be Minute-Man Ready!

The main problem with ice fishing is line. Monofilament needs to be replaced every year. Fluorocarbon gets stiff, bouncing off the spool like a Slinky. Braids carry water back to the reel like a bucket brigade, locking the spool in solid ice. Not anymore. Modern lines do better!

The main problem with ice fishing is line. Monofilament needs to be replaced every year. Fluorocarbon gets stiff, bouncing off the spool like a Slinky. Braids carry water back to the reel like a bucket brigade, locking the spool in solid ice. Not anymore. Modern lines do better!
The main problem with ice fishing is line. Monofilament needs to be replaced every year. Fluorocarbon gets stiff, bouncing off the spool like a Slinky. Braids carry water back to the reel like a bucket brigade, locking the spool in solid ice. Not anymore. Modern lines do better!

Learn About the Amazing New Ice-Fishing Lines

Ice fishing is now a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. High-ticket items like underwater cameras and portable shelters fly off the shelves. Popularity is at an all-time high, meaning the industry is listening. Line manufacturers are tripping over themselves to produce better, more functional connections between you and the fish.

Fling a crappie into a tackle shop in December and it’s bound to hit a new braided line designed specifically for ice fishing. These lines have space-age coatings with syllables in the double digit range. Like “polytetrafluoroethylene.” Causes carpel tunnel among writers! The techno-abbreviation is PTFE, it is the chemical compound substance used to coat PowerPro Ice-Tec. Water slips off before it can freeze. Berkley Fire Line Micro Ice, Tuf-Line DuraCast Ice, Sufix 832 Ice Braid—these and many other specialty braids are built to shed water and stay flexible in extreme cold.

The great thing about braided line is never having to replace it. Braid never breaks down.Minute-Man Picture2 No spooling up with new line year after year.  Put the rods away, reels attached, at last ice and forget them until ice-up. Then grab the rods and go. Freedom. However, braids don’t stretch. Hooks can pull out, and braids are opaque. Light doesn’t pass through as it does with mono or fluorocarbon. Even though braids are extremely thin, fish can see them better against most backgrounds. Now you need a leader that a fish can’t see quite as well and a leader that lasts as long as the braid.

Fluorocarbon is, of course, the most invisible of all lines (same reflective coefficient as water) and it doesn’t break down from heat or UV either. However, flourocarbon tends to be stiffer than mono. Spooling up with it was a bad idea for years, but that changed too. Many companies now have fluorocarbons designed to be spooled up—like Seaguar’s InvizX and AbrazX lines. Raven Invisible is a leader material, but very supple and thin. Intentionally or not, these and several other new fluorocarbon lines behave and lay quietly on the spool in extreme cold.

Having all these new lines to play with, I created what I call Minute-Man systems for each species that allow me to leave lines on spools for years while making presentation more effective than ever before. For panfish, bass and walleyes, the spool is almost filled with one of the new ice braids. For panfish, its 4-pound test. For walleyes and bass, 6 to 8-pound goes on first. Using a spider hitch to create a doubled line at the end of the braid, I tie in 20 to 50 feet of fluorocarbon using back-to-back uni-knots. For panfish, I use 4.5-pound Raven Invisible and tie direct to tiny jigs and hooks. With larger fish, I use 5.6- or 6.8-pound versions and a Berkley Cross-Lok Snap attached to the end of the line for quick lure changes. Most winters, that knot never needs to be retied. The leader knot can last for years.

For steelhead, salmon, and brown trout, I spool up with at least 120 yards of InvizX or AbrazX and tie direct to hooks or jigs. Bigger and faster fish like those can bury leader knots in the bottom of the hole pretty deep, but experience says fluoro fools more trout than mono in clear water. Luckily, these Seaguar lines designed to be spooled up have great shock and abrasion resistance—two critical requirements for speedy trout and salmon.

New polyester and braided tip-up lines from Celsius, Sufix, Mason, HT Enterprises and others are more flexible, too. Thickness is required to safely hand-line a giant toothy green thing up through the ice, and it needs to be a little slippery. That, so line can immediately be fed toward the hole when a big pike turns and takes off. Most tip-up lines are black, but the new Sufix Metered Tip-Up Braid alternates bright colors every 5 feet, revealing how deep the minnow or deadbait is set. Pretty convenient.

Rather than tie a quick-strike rig directly to a thick, opaque, tip-up line, I tie 6 feet of 40-pound Toray Superhard or Ande FCW50-40 Fluorocarbon to the end of the tip-up line using a swivel to connect the two lines. Yes, the swivel can get caught in the bottom of the hole, but not until the end of the battle when the pike is close and tired—so the line never breaks and pike typically pull it free themselves (hooks getting caught in the ice under the hole is a bigger problem). Guides have shown me how much more effective it can be to hide the connection between quick-strike rig and braid by hooking every fish we caught on several occasions.

Ice-up can be a sudden thing. Like the Minute-Men of the Revolution, be ready to roll out the door with dependable gear at hand when called upon. Always be ready!