A veteran Midwest finesse angler, who is always in search of new finesse baits, recently said that Coolbaits Lure Company of Ramona, California, stirred some interest in his eyes. And he thought other Midwest finesse anglers would be interested in learning about this company and its wares. Therefore, he suggested that we should focus one of our Midwest Finesse columns on them.
We agreed, and on July 25, we began exchanging emails with Justin Cooley of Ramona, Califronia, about their baits and the history the company.
Justin and his brother, Shawn of Quail Valley, California, are joint proprietors of Coolbaits. And according to Justin, its geneses stems back to 2001, which was when Shawn began crafting underspin jigs in his garage. He was making them for himself and a few local tournament anglers.
Ultimately, his underspins helped these tournament anglers garner many thousands of dollars in prize money when they competed at events on the heavily fished and clear-water reservoirs of Southern California. Justin noted that "finesse presentations are key" to successful angling in these waterways, and, therefore, finesse tactics with an underspin jig have been at the heart of the Cooley brothers' piscatorial perspectives for years on end.
But it took a gestation period of a decade and a half before the birth of the Coolbaits Lure Company.
It was in January of 2016 that they created a website and began distributing their 3/16-ounce The Down Under Underspin to local tackle shops and online tackle retailers.
Nowadays, they manufacture The Down Under in six sizes: 1/8 ounce, 3/16 ounce, 3/8 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 3/4 ounce, and one ounce, and they are available in 11 colors. They also have a 3/8-ounce and 1/2-ounce The Down Under Weedless Underspin, which Shawn and Justin described as being an unique contribution to the angling world. Besides the original The Down Under Underspin that is adorned with a silver spinner blade, they are now manufacturing one with a gold spinner blade, and it is available in six sizes and 11 colors. It is called The Down Under Underspin Gold Series.
It is interesting to note that an underspin jig has been part of some Midwest finesse anglers' repertoire since 1958, which is when the late Bert Hall of Forsyth, Missouri, created the Road Runner. According to Hall, his underspin was more effective than the Beetle Spin, which was created by the late Chuck Woods of Kansas City, Missouri, who was the forefather and godfather of Midwest finesse fishing. Hall said that he could inveigle nearly all of the species of fish that abided in the streams and reservoirs of the Ozarks. And Bill Fletcher of Mountain Home, Arkansas, used it at the first Bassmaster Classic at Lake Mead, Nevada, on Oct. 20, 21, and 22, 1971, where he garnered tenth-place honors.
In essence, an underspin is a classic Midwest finesse rig, but the Coolbaits' renditions are vastly updated from Hall's old-fashioned Road Runner.
In addition to their underspin options, Coolbaits is manufacturing a swimbait jig, which they call The Dart. It is available in three sizes and four colors. Justin says it possesses the same head as The Down Under Underspin that is devoid of a spinner blade.
Shortly after the birth of Coolbaits, Justin and Shawn began hand-pouring straight-tailed trailers that match the most popular colors of their The Down Under Underspins. They call these soft-plastic baits Trailers/Dropshot, and some anglers call it Trailers/Dropshot Worm.
Since 2016, Shawn and Justin had a lot of anglers asking them to create a swimbait, and in early 2018, they began manufacturing The Kicker.
Here are some details about the Trailers/Dropshot and The Kicker.
The Trailers/Dropshot is 3 1/2-inches long.
Its torso possesses somewhat of a triangular shape.
The apex of the triangle possesses a convex shape rather than a sharp angle. And that apex is the Trailers/Dropshot Worm's belly or ventral area.
Thus, the base of the triangle is its back or dorsal area, and this is where the hook emerges when a Midwest finesse angler affixes it to a jig. The widest spot of its dorsal area is adjacent to the tip of its head, and it is a quarter of an inch wide with a circumference of about an inch. The dorsal area immediately adjacent to the tip of the tail has the width of an eighth of an inch with a circumference of about seven-sixteenths of an inch.
The width of its belly or ventral area adjacent to the tip of its head is about an eighth of an inch wide. The width of its ventral area immediately adjacent to the tip of the tail has the width of about a sixteenth of an inch.
Adjacent to the tip of the head, the height of the side of the torso's triangle is three-eighths of an inch high.
The head is flat. The tail possesses a tiny dome shape.
The sides are embellished with a series of minute ribs. The back or dorsal is smooth-skinned, as is its belly or ventral area.
Shawn and Justin like to rig the Trailers/Dropshot on the 1/8- and 3/16-ounce The Down Under Underspin. In Justin's eyes, these Trailers match the looks and behaviors of silverside minnows, glass minnows, and various shad. Its shape and minute ribs create what he describes as a tight wiggle, which he proclaims is an important feature because he has "never witnessed a shad with a big kick tail action."
Besides affixing it to The Down Under Underspin, Shawn and Justin say they employ it on a drop-shot rig, as well as on a Midwest finesse jig. And they note that it is durable enough to withstand donnybrooks from a goodly number of black bass.
From the perspectives of Midwest finesse anglers, it is a skinny stickbait. As we have said many times in years past: subtleness and simplicity lie at the heart of Midwest finesse fishing, and thus, the diminutive features and movements of the Trailers/Dropshot will appeal to Midwest finesse anglers.
Of course, they will affix it onto a mushroom-style jig, and they will present it to their black-bass quarries by employing all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves or slight variations of those retrieves.
It is available in the following hues: Black/Clear, Silver Flake; Blue/Clear, Silver Flake; Chartreuse/Clear, Silver Flake; Green/Clear, Silver Flake; Purple/Clear, Silver Flake; White; and White/Clear, Silver Flake. (In the stained waterway that many Midwest finesse anglers probe across the nation's heartland, a white one is likely to be the most effective hue.)
A package of 10 costs $5.00.
The Kicker is 3 1/16 inches long when its tail is fully extended.
Its head is bullet or dome shaped, and it is three-eighths of an inch long. The tip of it head is flat, and that flat tip is a quarter of an inch wide with a circumference of about an inch. The head's surface is smooth.
Its torso consists of three parts.
The first or front part is cylinder shaped and endowed with 16 significant ribs. It is 1 3/4 inches long. It is five-sixteenths of an inch wide at it widest spot with a circumference of 1 1/8 inches. At rib No. 16, it has the circumference of 1 1/16 inches.
There is a significant joint between the front part of the torso and its second or middle part.
The second part is embellished with eight minor ribs. It is three-eighths of an inch long, and it is no longer cylinder shaped. Its sides become flat, and its dorsal and ventral areas are convex.
The third part is devoid of ribs, and it becomes flatter and thinner than the second part. Its skin or surface is smooth. It is nine-sixteenths of an inch long, and from its dorsal area to its ventral area, there is a quarter of an inch of soft-plastic.
The third part joins its tail, which is a boot-shaped tail, but some anglers describe it as a paddle-shaped tail. It is three-eighths of an inch wide and five-eighths of an inch long.
The Kicker was designed to be affixed to the small Down Under Underspin, such as the 1/8-ounce and 3/16-ounce ones. It is said to work well on Coolbaits' The Dart. Its tail exhibits a demonstrative kicking action, but it does not overwhelm the trajectory of an angler's retrieve. According to Shawn and Justin Cooley, it is more durable than most soft-plastic swimbaits.
It is available in the following hues: Black/Clear, Black/Pearl, Blue/Clear, Blue/Pearl, Chartreuse/Clear, Chartreuse/Clear, Chartreuse/White, Clear, and White. A Black/Pearl The Kicker affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. (In the stained waterway that many Midwest finesse anglers probe across the nation's heartland, the White and Chartreuse/White ones are likely to be the most effective hues.)
A package of 10 costs $6.00.