We all know that there are hundreds — thousands — of plastic swimbaits available to bass anglers. Some of them are a little better than others but very few of them are really different, fundamentally different. But, this year at ICAST we’re introducing one that really is fundamentally different. It’s the Berkley Powerbait Gilly.
I’m calling it a swimbait, but that doesn’t really do it justice. Most swimbaits are made to look like long and slender forage. They have a tail that faces down and up instead of being vertical like a real fish. And, maybe most important of all, they don’t look real. True, they catch bass but they aren’t exactly a perfect match-the-hatch lure.
That isn’t the thing with Gilly. It’s made to look like fatter forage. I’m thinking gizzard shad, bluegill, crappie, panfish, sunfish, and a dozen other small fish that bass eat. The thing is, though, that’s just the starting point. There are many other things that make Gilly the best on the planet.
Here they are in no particular order:
The Gilly comes in three sizes. The 90 mm size (3.5 inches) is perfect for baby forage. The 110 mm size (4.3 inches) is just right if you’re trying to match normal size forage. The 130 mm size (5.2 inches) is designed to mimic full-size forage. Tell the bass to pick their poison.
The Gilly comes in 12 colors. There are six standard ones and six HD (high-definition) colors. The HD colors are basically a photo of whatever fish we’re trying to imitate that’s been imprinted into the bait. I don’t have the scientific expertise to explain it any better than that. I do, however, have the fishing expertise to tell you that the HD colors look perfect and that they really catch bass.
On top of 36 size and color options, Gilly is anatomically correct from its nose to its tail. The dorsal fins are in the right places and they’re the right size. The anal fin is just as good. You can’t tell it from the real thing. And, Gilly even has pectoral fins on the body behind its lifelike gills. This thing is perfect! Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Gilly has a tail like almost no other plastic bait. Most swimbaits have the tail pointed down and up, but not Gilly. It’s vertical and has tabs on it to make it swim exactly like the real thing.
Gilly has scales all along its body, too. It’s not smooth and it’s not ribbed. It’s made like a real fish.
Gilly has something else that’s built into it that makes it super special: The top half of the bait is hollow. This makes it lighter on top than it is on the bottom. What that does is keep the bait vertical at all times. And, when I say all times I mean even when you stop it in the water and it falls to the bottom. It falls vertical and it sits on the bottom vertical. Tell me that doesn’t make it look like a real baitfish!
(FYI: You have no idea how hard that was to engineer and how many hours I have invested in this bait to get the vertical part just right. I mean this thing will hold vertical no matter how you rig it or if you put weight on or into it. Whenever I see it falling or sitting on the bottom vertical like the real thing I smile from ear to ear. I know we made something special.)
Gilly can be rigged in almost limitless ways:
A standard Texas rig is a good choice for normal fishing, like when the bass are feeding high in the water column or when you’re fishing shallow.
It works great if you’re Gilly fishing on top of pads or vegetation. Push a packing peanut into the hollow part on top of the bait and then flop it along the surface like an injured or dying baitfish. This is a real killer, and one of the most fun ways to fish it.
If you want it to sink slow — still holding vertical with an enticing wobble — push a piece of a plastic stickbait into the hollow part on top.
You can rig it along the side at an angle through the belly. That’ll let it stop on a dime, pause, and turn back on itself. Use a VMC Ringed Wide Gap hook with a welded eye to do this. It’ll work perfectly.
Put it on a jig head. There’s nothing fancy here. Just rig it like you would any other plastic to your favorite jig head and go fishing.
This one is a secret. It’s just between us so don’t tell anyone. Rig it line-through the bait. Take a pop rivet — in some places they’re called blind rivets — and use it to pull your line through the bait from the nose to just below the anal fin. After that tie on a VMC 7547 Hybrid Treble Hook and you’ll be good to go in open water situations. I recommend that particular hook because it has an inline eye that helps keep the bait straight.
My next to last rigging suggestion is to fish it on a belly-weighted swimbait hook. Again, there’s nothing fancy here. Just rig it and swim it.
Gilly will also perform perfectly on a drop shot, and you can even wacky it if you want.
Last, but by no means least, Gilly makes a great trailer for a vibrating jig or for my secret choice — a Scrounger Head. Your presentation will have plenty of bulk to attract a giant when it’s fished this way. It’ll look totally different, too.
Every so often something comes along that totally changes how we fish for bass. Gilly is one that’s going to do that. It is the real deal when it comes to plastic swimbaits, and it should be available in September. That’ll mean you can fish it during the fall feed.
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