Mark Shepard Hand Crafted
Artistry from the Deep South : Awesome Bait Company‘s Thundershad Crankbait
Introduction: Are you willing to pay top dollar for a crankbait but grow tired of the plethora of cookie-cutter, injected plastic mold replicas – despite the wonderful array of finishes they offer? Do you value the unique and eccentric action of a hand carved, wood crank but are frustrated over the lack of true color selection in these hand made wonders? What if we told you that it’s possible to have it all – the unique characteristics of hand carved wood baits with the dizzying color array typical of some of the larger lure manufacturers? Would you say “Awesome!”? Pull up the trolling motor and lean back on your pedestal seat as we take a closer look at Awesome Bait Company’s pre-eminent Thundershad Crankbait!
Impressions: Founded in January, 2000 by professional bass fisherman, Mark Shepard and his stepfather, Paul Kaptis, Awesome Bait Company has been busy building a fierce and loyal following in the deep south – the heart of American bass fishing country. With close to a dozen different models of freshwater cranks and endorsements by bass fishing professionals such as Rick Clunn, where does one begin? We chose, for our trials the shallow running, round billed Model 175.
At first glance, the Thundersad 175 crankbait appears no different than your run of the mill, mass produced lure. Take a closer look, and one begins to notice quality components and construction with such touches as oval split rings, Gamakatsu brand hooks, and a thick, clear coat protective finish over the lure’s paint. While the intricacies of the lure’s paint job may not be the
most detailed or exquisite we’ve witnessed, one can certainly discern great care goes into the painting and finish of each Thundershad crankbait.
The Field Tests: We rigged our Thundershad Model 175 on one of our typical cranking setups and took it out for tests in some of the clear water reservoirs of Northern California as well as the California Delta. Our three test colors to cover this range of bass waters were Citrus Shad, Fire Tiger, and Black Silver.
Most plastic crankbaits can be launched, with ease, in just about any casting conditions one might encounter on the water. This can be attributed to internal weights that shift depending on the lure’s orientation to help change the baits center of gravity as it flies through the air. Most wood cranks, on the other hand, are not privileged to these technological advancements. As a result, most are difficult to cast even in the absence of wind, unless one is using a light action rod, light line, and a high quality fishing reel.
Conversely, our Thundershad Model 175, with its half ounce weight rating, yet, average overall length, was an ease to cast, even with a heavier action fiberglass cranking stick (our Heavy Action Custom Seeker BS706 featuring a 3/8 – 1oz lure rating). We were quite pleased with the ease by which our test baits could be cast at all of our targets. Awesome Bait Company has done an excellent job at engineering the castablity of these baits.