With temperatures warming and spring ushering its way into our lives, anglers start to get the itch to get out and hit the water. This time of year, it’s tough to beat a good lipless crankbait when it comes to chasing springtime bass, and it’s tough to find a better lipless crankbait than the Strike King Red Eye Shad.
This loud bait is perfect for triggering vicious strikes from pre-spawn bass looking to fatten up for the grueling spawn ahead. However, don’t get pigeonholed into only throwing this bait in the spring. The Red Eye Shad is an excellent choice all year long due it’s unreal ability to mimic just about anything a bass will eat. Keep reading to find out why you need to have an arsenal of this incredible bait in your tackle box all year long.
Strike King offers just about any color that an angler could possibly want to match the hatch on your local lake or river. The Red Eye Shad comes in over 60 different color patterns that imitate everything from a gizzard shad to crawfish. If you need a specific color to catch bass, there’s a high likelihood that Strike King offers it in the Red Eyed Shad.
In the spring, it’s hard to beat a good crawfish imitator. Strike King has that covered by offering many variations to really fine-tune the presentation you need to mimic the forage in your neck of the woods.
When fished around rocks or through weeds, spring bass are always a sucker for the Red Eye Shad. Some of our favorite colors for early spring include:
- Orange Craw
- Rayburn Red Craw
- Chili Craw
- Brown Craw
When the mercury starts to rise in the summer months through fall and into the wintertime, bass tend to transition to a baitfish-centered diet. The Red Eye Shad is one of the best baitfish imitating lures ever created, and it shows by the vast amount of baitfish pattern colors the lure comes in.
The colors that perfectly mimic the swimming action and sound of a shad, herring, or shiner are:
- Chrome Black
- Blue Gizzard Shad
- Any of the variations of Sexy Shad.
If you like to fish on natural northern lakes, there’s a good chance that the bass in your body of water primarily eat panfish. Strike King has mastered several color patterns that closely match perch, bluegills, and crappies found in these lakes. The following colors are all proven winners on those clean, weed-choked lakes:
- Bleeding Fire Tiger
- Sugar Daddy
- Sexy Sunfish
Matching the Hatch
Aside from having every color pattern under the sun, Strike King also offers the Red Eye Shad in several different sizes. There are three different sizes of the lure—1/4 ounce, 1/2 ounce, and 3/4 ounce, which allows you to match your bait to the size of the forage the bass are eating.
- The 1/4 ounce Red Eye Shad measures two inches in length and closely matches small juvenile baitfish that bass are often found schooling around early in the year. This bait is excellent for fishing around schools of pin minnows, juvenile shad, and other small baitfish. The small profile combined with a bit quieter rattle offers finicky bass a smaller package that is often needed to trigger a bite.
- The ½ ounce Red Eye Shad is the most common size that you’ll see bass anglers throwing. This lure measures 2.5 inches long and is probably the closest match to the average forage size of baitfish, crawfish, and panfish found across the country. This bait is loud and has excellent vibration allowing for hungry bass to track down this bait from great distances.
- The ¾ ounce Red Eye Shad is the lineup's biggest lure and comes in at a whopping 3 inches long. Not only can you cast this bait a mile, but it’s also a loud big bass magnet. This size rules the roost on bodies of water where the baitfish grow big. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bait that’s better at triggering bites from big southern bass than the 3/4 ounce Red Eye Shad. The sound and vibration that this bait creates is unmatched in comparable lipless crankbait models.
It’s no secret that Strike King is an industry leader in fishing tackle, all you have to do is look at the Strike King pro staff roster and you’ll see a who’s who in the bass fishing world. This is for good reason as they offer incredible quality baits with trusted and proven components at an affordable price. The Red Eye Shad is no different.
The Strike King Red Eye Shad is equipped with VMC cone-cut treble hooks made from vanadium steel. This hook is incredibly sharp and sticky right out of the box, so there’s no need to change them out or sharpen them before you use the bait. In addition to this, these hooks hold up incredibly well to the rigors of fishing, so you don’t have to worry about it bending when you’ve got a big one on.
The Red Eye Shad also features 3D eyes to create a realistic image in the water that bass are naturally drawn to.
While most of the lineup features the namesake red eye, some of the color patterns are fixed with ultra-realistic iridescent eyes. No matter what color you’re throwing, you can feel confident that you’re using a bait that ideally matches the forage in the lake.
Strike King uses free-floating rattles inside of the bait to provide extremely effective sound and vibration that flat out triggers bites. You can feel the vibration through the rod and hear the bait working in the water, which is a fantastic quality in a lipless crankbait as it gives you the ability to fine-tune your presentation.
Red Eye Shad’s Versatility
The Red Eye Shad’s far-ranging color patterns, sizes, and variations make it one of the most versatile baits an angler can have in their tackle. It can be fished slow, fast, yo-yo’d, and can even be fished vertically. Some anglers even use them for ice fishing! It’s truly one of the most versatile lures on the market.
The straight retrieve is the most common way to fish the Red Eye Shad. Different variations of the straight retrieve can be used for different conditions you’ll run into on the water.
When fish are lethargic and moving slow, you can wind it slowly around weeds and cover with success.
When bass are actively feeding, it’s hard to beat a fast, erratic retrieve to trigger strikes.
One of our favorite straight retrieves is fishing the Red Eye Shad through weeds. You want to reel it just fast enough that it doesn’t sink into and bog down in the weeds, just ticking the tops. When the lure gets a little bit, you want to just pop it through, which often triggers a strike. This presentation is effective all year long.
When the water is cold and the bass are somewhat finicky, yo-yoing the Red Eye Shad off the bottom like a jig is a great way to catch those stubborn fish. Let the bait glide all the way to the bottom and then sharply snap your rod up, bringing the bait about a foot or two off of the bottom and then let it fall back down, reeling up the slack as you go. Bass will often slam the bait as it falls back to the bottom.
When fish are eating suspended and chasing baitfish out of deep water, this bait can be fished vertically, almost like a jigging spoon. If you’ve got good electronics, you can locate a school of bass and drop this bait down until your bait is hovering just above them. The best way to work the bait here is to just gently shake the bait, popping it every so often and wait for one of these schooling fish to streak up and hammer your lure. This is very similar to how anglers use it when fishing through the ice as well.
As you’ve just read, there’s a lot to like about the Strike King Red Eye Shad. Between the 60 plus colors they offer, the different sizes to dial in your bait, and the high-quality components that every single bait is equipped with, it’s easy to see why you need to be fishing with this lure.
When you couple this with the price point and the fact that it can be fished all year long with many different presentations, you know you’ve got a winning bait. This bait is as effective or more at a fraction of the cost of most premium lipless crankbaits. Put a few in your tackle box this year, we promise you won’t regret