Soft plastic lures are arguably the most versatile fishing lures ever invented and are inarguably the best all-around lures for largemouth bass.
Just when you think there's nothing new that can be done with a soft plastic lure, along comes yet another innovation.
At the July BASSMASTERS Classic world championship fishing tournament in Birmingham, Ala., two companies will introduce a new soft plastic material called CyberFlexxx that promises to cause a significant ripple on bass fishing waters.
Strike King will call its CyberFlexxx product 3-X Soft Baits, the 3-X meaning extra strong, extra soft and extra fish. Outdoor Innovations (best known for Terminator spinnerbaits) calls its product SnapBack Super Plastics. Wahoo, a Florida company that specializes in saltwater lures, will also sell CyberFlexxx soft plastics.
So what's different about another plastic worm? CyberFlexxx floats like a cork, stretches like a rubber band, and is softer yet tougher than normal plastic.
Mike Shelton, who discovered the CyberFlexxx plastic formula that had been patented for non-fishing use by a California lab, figures a CyberFlexxx worm has 20 to 30 times the life expectancy of a normal plastic worm.
From a lure manufacturer's perspective, plastic worms are the ultimate lures because they catch fish but don't last long. One aggressive bite from a bass can render a plastic worm unfishable. Worms are also damaged by getting hung up in brush and even by the force of a cast.
John Barnes, president of Strike King Lures, got his 7-year-old son to hold the tail of a 6-inch CyberFlexxx worm out the passenger side of Barnes' pickup truck and Barnes stretched the head of the same worm out the driver's side window.
Shelton says the elongation factor for CyberFlexxx is 1,200 percent, and the material's tear strength is 274 pounds per square inch.
"You can loop a CyberFlexxx worm around a 15-pound weight and pick it up with the worm," says Shelton, vice president of Z-Man Fishing Products, a South Carolina-based company.
Five years ago, Shelton began experimenting with a plastic formula to produce what he called a super worm.
"It was a frustrating project, and I almost gave up five or six times," Shelton says. "I'd develop what I thought was a good formula, only to watch my super worm melt on the deck of my bass boat."
What Shelton eventually came up with was so close to CyberFlexxx that he thought it best to secure fishing market rights to the existing product, which has a wide variety of applications.
CyberFlexxx is used as inserts in athletic shoes. It's also used in toys, as sleeves for artificial human limbs and in classified applications by the U.S. Navy.
Though oral hygiene is an offbeat use for a fishing lure, Shelton says you can stretch a CyberFlexxx plastic lure so thin the material can be used as a substitute for dental floss.
"In my mind, the two main qualities of CyberFlexxx are buoyancy and durability," says Alan McGuckin, marketing manager for Outdoor Innovations of Tulsa. "During a test, I fished the same soft jerkbait for two full days and caught 14 fish on that one lure.
"In the fishing business, it's not very often that such a revolutionary advancement comes along, but I think CyberFlexxx soft lures are to normal plastic what graphite fishing rods are to fiberglass rods."