We've been testing products all fall, winter and early spring trying to stay on top of all the new tackle that's come out. It's hard to keep up with so many shapes, sizes, companies and more. But several products get to be staples in your fishing as you review them. One I added this winter was the Optimum Baits Opti Shad.
The main components that differentiate this swimbait from others include:
• Softer plastic
• Unique hand-poured colors
• Widened body shape in finesse profile
• Larger tail relative to taper
The Opti Shad came to be part of a "mad scientist" experiment between the owners of Optimum Baits, Matt and Tony Paino, and the engineers at Lucky Craft. They wanted to take some of the great features of the Lucky Craft Wanderer series and incorporate them into some finesse swimbaits made out of extremely soft hand poured plastics.
The results were the Opti Shad and Victory Shad. The Opti Shad features a scaled down version of the boot tail from their Double Diamond Swimmer with the body, facial and scale details of the Wanderer bait from Lucky Craft. The bait features not only great shape and etching in the mold, but they incorporate some physics properties to make the bait swim better. Couple that with some unique color mixing and you've got some great looking baits that swim nicely and catch bass.
The Opti Shad comes on two sizes – 2 inch and 4 inch. I mostly tested with the 4-inch although I think the 2-inch model will be a pond, creek and ultra clear water killer on a small jigheads because the plastic is so soft and the tail has such a good action just swimming it around in the water. I'm going to test it even on crappie this year.
But the 4-inch model swims really well on both weighted and unweighted hooks. It makes a great alternative to a multi-lure umbrella rig and probably my favorite use for them right now is as a spinnerbait, chatterbait or swim jig trailer. I caught a bunch of fish on the Ghost Shad color and also the Golden Shiner colors. I also like Shad and Sexy Shad. Green Pumpkin Chartreuse is a cool swim jig trailer in dirtier water.
The tail seems large for a small profile swimbait but it swims nicely because of the narrow neck section between the body and the boot tail. Also the body is not only deeper in the middle but it's wider in the middle as well. That gives the swimbait good water displacement and gives it that nice roll and kick you want.
The baits didn't tear up like I thought they would on umbrella rigs or rigged by themselves or as trailers. Sometimes with soft swimbaits, they are wrecked after one fish. But that wasn't the case here, which was nice as you usually compromise quantity for more action.
There are 10 colors in both the 2-inch and 4-inch models. The 2-inch versions come 6 to a pack while the 4-inch versions come 5 to a pack.
You can check out all the colors and pick up a few packs here online at Tacklewarehouse.com or at local retailers who carry Optimum Baits.