Robotic Swimming Lure review

There’s a saying that some lures are made to catch fishermen, not fish.

While there is certainly some truth to that statement, not all flashy baits are inherently money traps.

But I must admit, when I first saw the Robotic Swimming Lure, my excitement probably kept me from thinking as clearly as I should have.

My brother-in-law posted a video of the lure on my Facebook wall. The battery-powered bait was shaped and colored like a shad. A small propellor fixed to the nose moved the bait about in a swimming motion. I was immediately taken by the lifelike action.

I had never seen anything like it. So, naturally, I quickly bought one. At a hair under $26 it is, to this day, the most expensive lure I have ever purchased. But I couldn’t wait for it to arrive at my doorstep.

This lure is offered in a variety of sizes and patterns. I chose the 5.12-inch common shad because it had the closest resemblance to the live minnows I use.

Once I had the lure in my possession, I didn’t waste any time taking it for a spin. I brought it to a couple of spots that I knew for certain were home to a host of hungry bass and northern pike.

I decided the best course of action was to fix the lure to one of the included steel leaders and place a bobber above it.

Here is what I learned:

The Perks

I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth calling out again: the action on this lure is awesome. It swims around in an incredibly realistic and sporadic motion. When it comes to authentic presentation, this bait gets high marks.

One of the benefits of the realism is that, in theory, this lure could take the place of live minnows. This saves both money and hassle. A live minnow will catch you one fish, if you’re lucky. This lure could and should produce many fish without the need for replacement. Plus, you don’t have to deal with keeping your minnows alive.

The charge on the battery lasts a respectable amount of time in normal water conditions, though cold water shortens the lifespan of the powerpack. The lure is easily charged with the included wall adapter and cord.

Some critics have mentioned the risk of polluting your favorite waters with electronics if the bait would break. While I abhor littering as much as anyone, I must say that if I had a fish hammer my lure so hard that it broke apart, I wouldn’t waste any time going online and buying two more. I’ve caught thousands of fish in my life and I have never encountered one that was so enthusiastic about a lure that it destroyed it in the process of striking.

The Drawbacks

Cost is the most obvious drawback here. This type of price tag should come with noticeable results. While even the best baits have slow days, there shouldn’t be many of those when dropping nearly $30 on a single lure. Generally speaking, this one requires a bit too much patience for my liking.

One of the other issues I encountered was the weight of the bait. All those electronics packed in the body mean you’ll need a sizable bobber in order to know when you have a bite.

While I am a big fan of the motion the lure provides, sometimes it’s a bit too enthusiastic for my liking. With its aggressive darting about, it won’t take long for your bobber to be a few yards from where you left it. Keeping the presentation realistic often requires a fair deal of slack in your line. If you’re fishing in a location with substantial current, you’ll need even more. This can delay the hookset, which can lead to missing fish or, worse, letting the fish become hooked deeper than it would have been otherwise.

The Ruling

Overall, this bait is fun and will catch fish on occasion. I like it. I want to love it, but I can’t. The fact is: I have lures that cost a fraction of what this one does that produce much better results on a more frequent basis.

If you’re looking to try something different and you have a few bucks to spend, give this bait a shot. But if you’re looking for a game-changer, this isn’t it.

When to switch fishing lures

Picture this: you’re out on the water at one of your favorite fishing spots. It’s a beautiful day, but the fish just aren’t biting the way you had hoped.

That’s when the inevitable question comes to mind: “Should I switch lures?”

We’ve all been there. It’s frustrating. And to complicate matters, there doesn’t seem to be a good answer to that age-old question.

That’s because the “right” solution varies based on each scenario.

Here are a few things to consider when contemplating making a change:

Why did I choose this lure?

When you decided to tie a certain lure to the end of your line, you made that choice for a reason. Before going with an alternative, it’s important to consider why you picked this bait in the first place.

Odds are, this bait has been successful for you in the past when targeting similar species in similar conditions.

If nothing else in your tackle box is checking these boxes, you may be best-served by sticking it out. There is no substitute for firsthand knowledge.

However, if you simply wanted to try a new bait or had this lure referred to you by a friend or someone on a message board, it may be worth trying something different after you gave your first shot a proper college try.

Are there actually fish here?

This may seem like an obvious question, but it’s important that you have the right answer.

If you are lucky enough to have a boat outfitted with electronics, be sure you are using those tools. What are they telling you? If your screens are empty, the lure has little to do with the lack of bites.

If you’re fishing from shore or don’t have electronics on your boat, look for signs of activity such as fish surfacing or birds feeding on baitfish. If things seem a little too quiet, you might want to check out a different location.

No matter how much success you have had in a spot previously, you are never guaranteed to have the same experience.

Am I presenting this bait correctly?

Sometimes, when fish seem tight-lipped, it has nothing to do with *which* bait is being presented so much as it is *how* it is being presented.

First and foremost, make sure you are being consistent with your retrieval speeds. If you are all over the map when you’re reeling in, odds are, that’s the problem. It can be easy to neglect this crucial part of the process as you become increasingly frustrated.

Some lures lend themselves to more than one presentation style. For instance, stick baits can utilize a straight retrieve, or they can be show differently with jerks and pauses. Explore these options.

Covering water is also crucial. Seemingly minor changes in water conditions can move fish around within a spot. Maybe the fish you found under the dock or near a rock pile are now suspended in deeper water. The presence of a predatory fish could have moved your target species into the weeds, in hopes of safety.

That’s why you need to thoroughly work a spot before picking up a different bait.

A little trial and error can go a long way.

Are there other factors at play?

Time of day, weather, and location can be three of the biggest factors that contribute to fishing success. If you’re not in the presence of active fish, odds are, what you’re throwing at them doesn’t really matter.

It’s possible the high sun has made the fish a bit lazy. Other times, early and late in the year, sunlight can be your friend as the rays heat the water to a temperature that promotes feeding.

If a front has come through recently, or the day you are fishing is particularly cold or warm compared to previous days, the bite could have slowed.

This is where an outdoors log comes in handy. You can reference previous trips to this location and potentially decipher patterns of information that hold true on your best days.

Perhaps another angler was in this spot recently and pulled a bunch of fish out of your sweet spot just before you arrived. That will certainly slow things down.

So before you go changing baits, be as confident as you can that the bait itself is actually the problem.

How much time do I have?

The decision to change baits should be impacted by how much time you have. If you’re not in a rush, try to stick it out with your primary choice for a little longer.

But if your time is limited and you need quick results, don’t be afraid to move to a different setup. This is particularly true if you have advanced knowledge of your spot.

This is a balance between giving a lure enough time to do its thing while avoiding the insanity of trying the same approach over and over again and expecting different results.

Do I have a Plan B I believe in?

If you aren’t confident in your backup plan, changing things up doesn’t make a lot of sense. Fishing with confidence is important. You are more likely to work a presentation correctly if you believe in it.

I may still make a change if I don’t believe strongly in my second or even third options, but I keep those baits on a short leash.

There’s something to be said for dancing with the one who brought you.

At the end of the day, pulling the trigger on a lure change is an incredibly personalized decision. But taking a second to step back and critically assess the situation can help guide you in making the right call for you.

How to keep your minnows alive longer

Utilizing minnows is one of my favorite ways to catch fish year-round. But I use this approach extensively in the winter months. When it comes to quality bait, it’s hard to beat the real thing.

I used to think of my minnow stash as easily-disposable. But throughout the years, I’ve found a number of benefits to keeping my bait alive and kicking as long as possible.

Maintaining my current crop of minnows from the local bait shop not only saves time and money, it also minimizes my use of these living resources while allowing me to catch more fish per purchase.

With more anglers hit the ice during the pandemic and a limited number of bait shops in my area, minnows are a little harder to come by.

The tips below have kept me adequately stocked for a fishing outing on a moment’s notice.

Think through your purchase

This is the trickiest part. The last thing you want is to run out of bait in the middle of one of your better days. But you also don’t want to turn into a minnow farmer for the week following your trip.

I do my best to aim for somewhere in the middle of the minimum number of minnows I need to keep my lines stocked stocked and the number I would need if we really hammer the fish.

This will vary based upon your targeted species and the method you are using.

If I’m with a group using 12 tip-ups for pike, I usually buy around four-dozen minnows. That’s enough to rig every line at the start and replenish three times after.

When jigging for crappies, I take into account my average success rate and the approximate amount of time I plan to be fishing.

With pike, one minnow usually equals one fish (or flag). But with crappies, you’re more likely to miss a few. That means you should account for more than one minnow per fish you expect to catch.

Keep a good ratio

There’s just something about a crowded minnow bucket that gets me excited. Each minnow brings its own possibility of a memorable catch. This sight always accelerates my anticipation.

But the more minnows you have crammed into your carrier, the shorter the lifespan of the fish inside can be. Being mindful of your critter-to-liquid ratio can help prolong the viability of your purchase.

Depending upon the size and species, I try to never have more than three-dozen minnows in my two-gallon bucket.

On larger ice fishing excursions, dividing up the minnows between a couple buckets also means that fresh bait is never far away from any of the rigs. This reduces effort and gets your lines back in the water faster.

Aeration is your friend

The water in your minnow bucket contains a finite amount of oxygen. Without new oxygen being introduced, your bait will begin to suffocate.

A simple aerator (available at most bait shops and sporting goods stores) will do wonders for keeping minnows alive. The model I use runs on a D battery that lasts a couple of days, even with constant use.

If you can’t get your hands on an aerator, a steady drip of faucet water paired with more frequent water changes can suffice for a short period of time.

Change the water

I view this step as though I was taking care of a pet fish. Every 24 hours or so, I change out the water in my holding container. This gives the minnows a bit of a fresh start.

Though I haven’t personally encountered many issues, it has been said the chemicals in tap water can be harmful to your minnows. You can get around this by using distilled water.

Remove dead minnows promptly

Dead minnows are a lot like ripe fruit. Once one goes, they all seem to go.

Decomposing minnows present all sorts of water quality issues. Removing dead fish from your container as quickly as possible will help you avoid that.

Generally, I can keep shiners for a little more than a week. With a good batch, I’ve been able to keep fatheads alive for two weeks. Even so, you should check your bucket for casualties frequently.

Avoid drastic temperature changes

Fish are cold-blooded, so they generally lack the ability to moderate their body temperatures. Keeping them alive requires maintaining a relatively steady water temperature in your minnow bucket.

When you’re not out fishing, keep your storage container out of direct sunlight. In winter, do your best to avoid bringing minnows directly indoors after a day on the ice. Instead, ease this transition by keeping the minnows in your garage or other location with an intermediate temperature range for a few hours before bringing them inside.

Don’t shy away from food

This may seem ridiculous but, if you are in it for the long haul, you need to feed your minnows.

Your bait will likely keep for a few days without additional nourishment, but it gets sketchy after that. I’ve used everything from fish food to bread crumbs or even crumbled up crackers. Many outdoors outlets sell food specifically designed for maintaining your bait.

A friendly reminder

Remember, do not dump live, store-bought minnows into the body of water you are fishing. While giving the minnows a chance to live may seem like the ethical thing to do, introducing new species into an ecosystem, even in small amounts, has more potential to do harm than good. Instead, try to use the tips above to keep your stash of bait alive until your next trip, give your minnows to a friend, or find a way to properly dispose of them in a less environmentally-impactful way.

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