Applied Science: Crankbait Corps. Fingerling “Bullcat”, Part II

More science comin’ at ya’ from Crankbait Corp.

Crankbait Corp. gets one more nod in the applied science arena. Last week we talked about their reverse-countershaded lures, but at about the same time, they were also banking on science to give them another advantage in the market. Designer Tom Seward had done a lot of fishing in farm ponds, oxbows and other smaller waters where shad weren’t the primary forage of the resident bass.

Beside bluegill, Tom found out that catfish were high on the list of preferred prey items in these smaller waters. Talks with local farmers and pond owners would often reveal that they had a difficult time stocking and catching catfish in many of their waters, simply because the bass would eat all the catfish fingerlings. Even though this dates back to the 1980’s, you can find stories to this day that back this assumption up, such as the one I found last week about Lake Lackawanna in Pennsylvania. Here, the Fish and Boat Commission are on the verge of giving up stocking channel cats in the lake after 25 years of what appears to be a largely unsuccessful effort, thanks to high predation of the 2″ stocked fingerling cats by largemouth bass.

The “Bullcat” lineup, from a 1980 Bassmaster ad

Back to Crankbait Corp., they designed and molded 4 crankbaits that looked and mimicked the various catfish species. There was a channel cat, a bullhead/madtom, a stonecat, and a hi-contrast version bullcat. Like others in this series, these baits were rattle-free, being made of “a super tough advanced foam”. They had a wide displacement to mimic the swimming motion of a catfish, or even a crawfish.

Though others were getting into the super natural look baits at the time, namely Bagley’s with their Small Fry series of carved baits, this line of mini-catfish were always my favorite in the design dept. Now largely relegated to collectors status, you can still find these around on eBay from time to time. The next time I find one available, I just might buy it and head to the local lake to make a few casts and try and catch a bass on one, in the name of applied science, of course.

  • Dan

    Could someone tell what is the best way to fine tune fingerling lures to run properly. I’m having them run side ways and always come up to the surface when trolling or casting. Can someone help me out?

    • Hi Dan,

      One of the things you can try is to bend the line-tie wire to the side (ever so slightly) in which the lure is running. In other words, if it runs left, bend the line tie to the left. Another thing is to make sure when you tie your know, the knot itself is slightly to the side of the split in the split ring, You don’t want the split in the split ring riding in the line tie.

      Be careful when you bend the line tie on those Fingerlings, you could break them.

      Hope this helps,


  • Ralph Manns

    If bending the line tie doesn’t correct the problem, I’ve found only one solution:. ONLY use such lures with a slow retrieve.

    I didn’t have much success with Fingerlings series lures, as most seemed to me to only work well very slowly. Still, I had my greatest success with a Fingerling that was counter-shaded: dark belly and light back. I still find this reversal effective for crankbaits used at twilight and at night.

  • Hillbilly Jeff

    I had one of these back in the day. Wish I had kept it.