By now every bass angler in the world has fished a version of the vibrating jig. I have chased all species of bass with several different versions, from custom builders to large manufacturers and narrowed my assault down to a few favorites. However, I’m always on the lookout for the next best thing. My latest experiment was the Lightning Blade by V&M . Mike Pharr, V&M Marketing Manager, asked me to take the new Lightning Blade out for a spin and let him know what I thought.
I asked Mike Pharr what makes the Lightning Blade different than every other vibrating jig I’ve fished. He expressed, “The main point of difference in all of our baits is the quality components. Blades, skirts, hooks, split rings, and swivels; we believe in building the best bass catching product you have to use the best components.” Mike went on to say, “We worked with Bassmaster Classic Champion Cliff Pace, to make sure we addressed everything an Elite Angler dislikes about this type of bait. With Cliff’s inputs, we built the perfect vibrating jig, the Lightning Blade.”
Being a connoisseur of vibrating jigs, I jumped at the chance to try a new version. I was very excited to get the new Lightning Blade on the water for a couple of reasons. First, as expected, Mike Pharr talked it up so highly. Second, in my part of the country, vibrating jigs are very popular; so to be the first angler to present a slightly different vibration, shape, or flash could put a few extra tournament dollars in my pocket.
Unfortunately, these baits are not on the V&M website as of this article’s publish date. However, I was told the Lightning Blade will be in all favorite major retailers’ lineup soon. Looking through the V&M press release, I was impressed to see V&M is offering the Lightning Blade in a large variety of colors. However, most important to me was the three blade color options: silver, gold, and black. Each skirt color can be purchased with any of these three blade colors.
My first day on the water with the Lightning Blade was not fair. Weather conditions had destroyed any hopes of an easy bite. In short order, I realized the unsettled winter conditions had destroyed any hope of a bite at all. Typically in a post front weather pattern, with high, cold, muddy water I elect to head home early and plan my next trip. However, in conditions like this, a reaction bite is the best chance at drawing a strike at all. What better way to test the new Lightning Blade? After an hour of presenting the Lightning blade to various cover, I finally had a strike, a nice chunky three pounder. Bonus points for the Lightning Blade, catching bass in horrible conditions.
Through this experience of casting practice, I learned a couple of things about the Lightning Blade. Controlling the depth of retrieve is very easy. While it does raise some during a very fast retrieve, typical retrieves allowed the bait to maintain any depth I was trying to achieve. The Lightning Blade has tremendous vibration even at very slow retrieve speeds. There are conditions when I like to lift and drop a vibrating jig; many manufacturers’ versions require a snap of the rod tip to get the bait vibrating. However, the lightning blade starts instantly vibrating on the lift; I attribute this to the quality components and well-balanced design. The Lightning Blade also hunts very well, meaning it veers left and right of center creating a very erratic and enticing action. One of the promoted features of the Lightning Blade is the extra-long shaft of the Mustad hook. This extended hook concerned me at first; I fish a vibrating jig in tremendous cover, ranging from log jams to simple brush piles to all forms of vegetation. It turns out the extra-long shaft was not an issue. The Lightning Blade plowed through various cover as smoothly as a swim jig or Texas rig. If it did hang, a quick pop of the rod tip set it free.
My second day on the water was again not fair; however, this time, it was the bass having trouble. With a warming trend, the action of the Lighting Blade was just the ticket, and I boated several quality winter bass. Out of all the strikes on the Lighting Blade, I only missed one, sort of. The miss was my fault; I hit the thumb bar of my reel on the hook set. Once I regained control of my reel and continued the retrieve the Lightning Blade was immediately destroyed by a 4-pound bass. I can’t prove it, but I’d bet it was the same bass. In my opinion, the extra-long hook shaft has hit the mark on the strike to hook-up ratio.
Yes, I love a vibrating jig. However, they can have a hook to land ratio as bad as a hollow body frog. I believe other manufactures’ blades can get in the way during hooksets, preventing the bait from pulling through a bass’s mouth to allow the hook to penetrate. The extra-long hook shaft on V&M’s version sets the hook farther back on the bait, allowing it to catch flesh and penetrate during hooksets. Here is what Cliff Pace, 2013 Bassmaster Classic Champion, and Lightning Blade designer had to say, “We all have problems with bladed jigs losing fish. We all know they get lots of bites, but how many of those bites do you actually put on the carpet of your boat? This hook being extend like it is, allows for the fish to actually eat the bait and it prevents the blade from getting in the way of your hook point, which really increases the amount of fish you will hook and catch.”
I’m certain I’ll be discussing the Lightning Blade more in the Ultimate Bass forums and future articles. A vibrating jig catches bass year round, and with the quality components, action, and blade color flexibility in the Lightning Blade I’ll be fishing with it a lot in the next few months.