March 10, 2018
Smash-Tech Custom Baits' Bubble Fry recently caught the eye of a veteran Midwest finesse angler and correspondent on the Finesse News Network. Without a moment of hesitation, he advised us to feature it in a gear guide, and we agreed.
Subsequently, we talked with Heath Taylor of Pittsburg, Texas, on Feb. 27. We also exchanged several emails.
He is the proprietor of Smash-Tech, and he told us that they purchased the mold from Kicker Fish Bait Company of La Porte, Texas, which went out of business in 2016, and Smash-Tech began manufacturing it in September of 2016.
Kicker Fish introduced it to the angling world at the 2012 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida. In essence, it is a modern-day version of the Bass Pro Shops' Caterpillar Stud Fry, which has not been available for more than a decade. And the Caterpillar Stud Fry has a permanent and endearing spot in the hearts and minds of finesse anglers who are devotees of soft-plastic French fries. In fact, Brian Waldman of Indianapolis, Indiana, who is a member of the Finesse News Network, is a longtime aficionado of the Caterpillar Stud Fry, and in the past, he has written affectionately about it.
Taylor noted in an email on Feb. 27 that it caught the fancy of scores of black bass anglers in Texas, and most of them are what Midwest finesse anglers would describe as power-bait anglers, such as Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas, and Bill Wilcox of Burleson, Texas. According to Taylor, it "has become a staple for deep-water fishing for many of the guides at Lake Fork," where they work with it on submerged humps and roadbeds. And the most popular color on Fork and most Texas lakes is Chartreuse Pepper." The favorite way for the power anglers to employ it is on a Carolina rig, but they also slip-sinker rig it and whacky rig it. At times, some of them will affix it to a drop-shot rig and a shaky-head jig.
Smash-Tech is noted for its state-of-the-art and hand-poured swimbaits. The Bubble Fry, however, is manufactured by an injection mold.
It is three and seven-eighths inches long.
Each end is adorned with two dome- and cylinder-shaped segments. They are smooth skinned. Each segment is about a half of an inch long, its circumference is one and one-sixteenth inches, and its diameter is five-sixteenths of an inch.
Its torso, which is cylinder-shaped, is embellished with 136 dome-shaped appendages. These appendages are tiny, measuring about an eighth of an inch long.
The circumference of the torso, which included the appendages, is one and three-quarters inches. The length of the torso is about two and three-quarters inches. Along one side of the torso there are four holes that are five-sixteenths of an inch deep, which are called air traps, and they are about eleven-sixteenths of an inch apart. The hole nearest to one end of the torso is about seven-eighths of an inch from the end of the bait, and the hole nearest to the other end of the torso is about seven-eighths of an inch from the end of the bait.
In a Feb. 28 email, Taylor described it as being very buoyant and "fairly durable." He noted that the durability is enhance by the fact that it can be rigged from either end, and when one end becomes too tattered to stay affixed to a hook, an angler can rig it on the other end. Its buoyancy allows it to glide and suspend.
It is not impregnated with salt and scent. And no salt helps the durability factor. Taylor said: "When I started the company, I polled a lot of fishermen on the scent issue and the answers were all over the board, ranging from garlic, anise, craw, shad, coffee, and none at all. I ultimately decided to go with no scent, so as to allow fishermen to [use] whatever scent they prefer."
Taylor prefers to affix it to a hook Texas style on either a slip-sinker rig or a Carolina rig. On his Carolina rig, he uses a 2/0 Gamakatsu round-bend-offset worm hook, noting that this light-wire hook allows the Bubble Fry to glide. He opts for a 3/0 one on his slip-sinker rig.
Of course, Midwest finesse anglers will affix it to a small mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook, and the hooks range in size from a No. 2 to a No. 4. Perhaps a few old-timers will occasionally opt for a split-shot rig, which is the way we used to use soft-plastic French fries decades ago. Some will not shorten it. But Midwest finesse anglers are inveterate customizers, and therefore, some will shorten it, making a three-inch, two-and-three-quarter-inch, or a two-and-a-half-inch Bubble Fry.
When it is rigged on a small mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook, Midwest finesse anglers will find that it works well with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves.
It is available in the following colors: Blue Craw, Blue Fleck, Chartreuse Pepper, Chartreuse Pepper Red, Green Pumpkin, Red Bug, Watermelon Chartreuse, and Watermelon Red.
A package of 10 costs $5.19.
(1) Here is a link to Brian Waldman's insights about the Stud Fry and Bubble Fry:http://www.bigindianabass.com/big_indiana_bass/2012/07/rebirth-of-a-legend.html.
(2) Here is a link to Smash-Tech Custom Baits website: https://smashtechbaits.com/products/bubble-fry. Here is Smash-Tech's telephone number: 903-434-2795.
(3) Here is a link to a column that describes the six standard Midwest finesse retrieves that anglers can use while wielding a Bubble Fry affixed to a small mushroom-style jig: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.