By David Hunter Jones
Special to BassFan
A common business axiom states that if you're not growing, you're standing still. Or, if you're not evolving, you're falling behind.
Rapala understands this, which is why it makes more baits than its famed Original Floating Minnow. It's also why parent company Normark bought Storm Lures a while ago. Storm offered the famous luremaker a more diverse portfolio of baits, and now Storm is looking to make further inroads into the already crowded soft swimbait market, but with an eye toward simplicity.
Storm is best known for its Wildeye line of weighted, pre-rigged swimbaits, but the company's newest offering – the 360GT – is quite different. Long, skinny swimbaits like the 360GT are effective because they straddle the line of finesse and power presentations. They're subtle enough to be fished on light spinning tackle, but can be chucked with braid around grass with casting gear, too. They can be rigged a number of ways, but the most common is to thread one on a jighead.
The “GT” in 360GT stands for “go-to,” as in it's intended to be a go-to bait. The 360 refers to the fact that Rapala says it can be effective when cast in any direction (“throw it anywhere, catch fish everywhere” is a tagline). It's being billed as a searchbait that can be used by anglers of all skill levels, which is true assuming you can cast and retrieve. Like all swimbaits similar to the 360GT, the action is build in upon the retrieve, save for a pop or pause you might care to impart.
Long & Long
The most popular of the long-and-lean soft plastic swimbait is the Keitech Swing Impact. The 360GT is in the same family, but the body of the GT remains thicker for more of the length rather than steadily tapering like the Keitech. The thicker body won't lend itself to the famous wag that Keitechs have, but that's not a strike against the 360; it's just a little different and more subtle. As the bait is retrieved, the tail kicks and rolls while simultaneously causing the head and body of the bait to rock back and forth. Videos of it swimming underwater show this action in spades.
As mentioned previously, Storm is famous for pre-rigged swimbaits, and extended this nicety to the 360GT. In each clamshell pack are three bait bodies, one of which is rigged on a jighead. And the jighead is no afterthought; it's made specifically for the 360 bodies. The hook is a VMC Coastal Black, whose steel is made for saltwater environs and fish, so it's more than up to the task of handling bass. The head has eyes, paint that matches the bodies and a rattle, something few jigheads can boast. Along the shank are three ribs that act as keepers, and the back of the head is contoured to mate perfectly with the body. It's a pretty clever deal that's easy to rig, and might be handy to give to someone who is new to threading swimbaits on jigheads. The body has entrance and exits “holes” that show where to begin and end threading the hook through the bait.
Plenty of Options
The 360GT is available in eleven colors and 3 ½-, 4 ½-, and 5 ½-inch bodies, which are paired with 1/8-, 1/4- and 3/8-ounce weight heads, respectively. Ideal tackle for throwing the 360GT depends on what you're doing, of course. If I were at a spotted bass haven like Smith Lake in Alabama, or up north in smallie-ville, I'd have a 3 1/2-inch 360GT tied onto a 4-foot length of 10-pound fluorocarbon leader that was mated to a 20-pound braid mainline spooled on a 20-size spinning reel hanging from a 7-foot MH rod with a somewhat fast tip. This would let you hurl it plenty far to work along long, tapering points. The medium-heavy action of the rod and the fast tip would let you get a hook into the fish from a distance and have ample power to tame the feistiest spotted bass.
If I were, say, on Okeechobee during pre-spawn when they're mauling small soft swimbaits, it'd be a 5 1/2-inch “Houdini” color (green pumpkin/red flake) on 15- to 17-pound fluorocarbon with a fast casting reel. However, in both of these situations, your mileage may vary.
Regardless of how or where you fish a swimbait like the 360GT, it's likely going to get attention. I put a lot of stock into the theory of Occam's Razor, especially as it applies to fishing. If you're unfamiliar, Occam's Razor is a theory about problem solving. Boiled down, it states that the simplest solution is most often the correct or best one. I think that if most of us look in our boats, our tackle situation is anything but simple. The 360GT bucks the trend; it's really straightforward in that it looks and swims like a baitfish all by merely turning the handle of your reel. How easy is that?
To check out the bait in action, see the embedded video below: