Oval Skirt Saddles – Is the jury still out?

Standing in the back of a boat, watching bait being dumped into the live well, I wondered why all skirted saltwater trolling lures present a round silhouette when most all bait fish are some geometric form of an oval?  “That’s just the way they all are” I was told by my Captain when I asked the question.  “They have all been that way forever.”

Other lures for other fish have presented more lifelike silhouettes to predator species for over a century.  Why not skirted saltwater trolling lures?  When I asked I was told that the hydraulics of a trolling lure moving through the water at 6 knots or more require round shapes.  But several hard body lure makers have proven that this is not true.

bait“The skirts won’t work on the ovals because skirts are round,” I was told.  Really?  The skirts I have used are stretchy, plasticized vinyl and conform to any shape, round, oval or square.  The skirts I know will ‘throw’ the same shape off the back of the head that the saddle ‘tells it to’ in a manner of speaking.  On most bait fish, the area back from the head is the tallest part of their oval bodies.

The evolution of saddle shape (or lack thereof) is due in part to creative inertia and lack of will.  Pelagic fishermen buy round lures, so why change?  But more than anything, “round” owes it’s longevity to the convenience of the manufacturing processes.  Handmade lures need to be polished on a “lathe” or similar device that spins the lure.  Polishing an oval shape in a spinning lathe chuck is not in the cards.  Mass produced lure heads come from injection molds that are less expensive to have made in a round shape than in other geometric forms.  And what manufacturer with drawers full of expensive round saddled masters wants to reinvest lots of money just to change the shape of the saddle?  BFD started from scratch, and doesn’t have that issue.

A surface-feeding fish will begin rising to movement or commotion.  Then it identifies a silhouette against surface light or boat/prop wash.  As a fish closes on the lure, action and color become issues.  You have two of these bases covered.  Why present a cigar-shaped silhouette instead of a more baitfish-like silhouette in the middle of this predator’s evaluation process?  Just because “that’s the way it’s always been done??”

Is the jury still out on oval saddles?  Well, to be honest, I have yet to hear a Marlin say, “Wow, Dan, that oval really fooled me!” when we were removing the hook.  But for those of us on the jury, the evidence is clear from our own personal experience and regular reports of ovals’ outperformance of the old stanndard rounds.  The jury is definitely still out for anyone that hasn’t fished one.

The only Marlin, Tuna, Dolphin Fish (Mahi, Dorado) and Wahoo (Ono) skirted trolling lures made in the world with oval skirt saddles are made by BFD Big Game Lures.

Take Marlin Off the Menu

Take Marlin Off the Menu is a joint campaign of Wild Oceans and the IGFA. For more information, go to www.takemarlinoffthemenu.org.

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