ICAST 2012: Savage Gear and Okuma Go for the Full Monty

Story by

Mads Grosell

Mads with the new 3D Real Eel and 3D Herring. Savage and Mads are coming soon, it’s their time to shine.

Since I started covering ICAST for you in 2002 (I was the first ever to “open the doors” of the trade-only ICAST show to the angling public then), there are two ICAST events that stand out far above everything else for me:

  1. First, meeting Patrick Sebile there in 2008 was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Within a few minutes of conversing, I instantly realized he was “the next big thing” in fishing lures – and the next few years proved me right. He’s the best angler on the planet ever, and I had the good fortune to get in on the ground floor, assisting with different aspects of his brand’s worldwide marketing, advertising, media relations, industry relations and PR that helped fuel SEBILE Innovative Fishing’s meteoric rise during the company’s first 3 years prior to its purchase by Pure Fishing in 2011.
  2. Second, at this ICAST (2012), witnessing wide-eyed what Savage Gear and Mads Grosell are poised to launch in the USA for 2013. They’re spot on with 400 new, killer items aimed at two massive markets – saltwater striped bass and freshwater black bass – and I’m not even sure those guys completely comprehend yet the full force of what they’re capable of accomplishing here. And since others in the media weren’t expecting it (there were a record 760 media people at ICAST), they overlooked it. I asked many of my major media cronies there if they’d seen what Savage’s up to – and mostly drew blank stares from them. So I guess it’s up to me to tell you the incredibly good news of what’s coming soon!

Introducing Mads Grosell, One of the World’s Foremost Lure Designers

Mads Grosell

Mads Grosell, with a 20+ year background in lure concept development is currently Okuma Product Manager in the European Union. He tends to start lure design concepts by hand-drawings on paper, in a blueprint-like approach – only now he’s 3D scanning and rapidly prototyping lures from real live bait – the first in the tackle industry to do so.

What can I say about this Savage guy, Mads Grosell from Copenhagen, Denmark? I predict Mads and his brand, Savage Gear (owned by Svendsen Sports and marketed/distributed in the US by Okuma) will be the next big thing in fishing lures in the USA. It will require they stay nimble to adjust products accordingly as usage mushrooms during the next few years, and they should make the brand successful here shortly.

42 year-old Mads started making baits 20+ years ago when he was 19. By trade and training, he was a flight dispatcher for SAS airline for 10 years, and had his lure company as a side business. It grew so successful that his company was acquired by Svendsen Sports 8 years ago. Since then, Mads has been in the tackle business full time, currently serving as Okuma Product Manager for the European Union.

His baits stand out. Mads has some of the most refreshing and unique lure concepts I’ve ever seen. He’s a game-changer. He’s not a copyist nor a design tweaker (making small changes to existing designs). He’s bigger than that when he wants to be – which is often – based on his one-of-a-kind lure concepts.

In Scandinavia and Europe, particularly in the pike/predator market, Savage Gear’s gained much fame in the short time the brand’s been around. Although Svendsen’s been in the tackle business over thirty years, Savage Gear has been a stand-alone brand for only 5 years now, yet Savage’s reputation for pike/predator products rivals more entrenched or long-standing brands like Rapala, Nils Master, Strike Pro, to name a few in Europe. Indeed, Savage Gear is Europe’s fastest growing brand today.

Savage Gear’s soft baits have won the last two “Best New Soft Lure” awards in a row at the EFTTEX tackle trade show (Europe’s equivalent to ICAST). Winning this year (2012) for the new 3D Real Eel and last year (2011) for the Soft 4Play.

Savage Sandeels

The proven success of the Sandeel in the US precipitated the development of many new items for bass and saltwater striper fisheries here.

Even so, most anglers in the USA just don’t know about this tackle brand yet and even many VIPs in the fishing media and tackle business are unfamiliar with them. So they’re partnered with Okuma to help market and distribute Savage Gear in the USA – developing a massive new product line of lures and colors just for here – and they’ve done their homework. What a debut this shall be!

Introducing 400 New Items for the US for 2013

Based on the sales and feedback they’ve gotten to date on Savage’s existing portfolio of models and colors they’ve sold in the USA, Savage has chosen their main focus for 2013 to concentrate on freshwater bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted) and saltwater striped bass. These two targeted fisheries were really selected based on Savage’s success in the US with their Sandeel lure.  It has been their one lure that has attracted the most attention, comprising 60% of their sales this year in the USA, predominantly finding success for striper anglers in the northeast, for black bass on Clear Lake and other big California lakes and at El Salto, Mexico as well as on the West Coast for calico bass. So now they’re planning to bring out a full color range of the Sandeel – but also backing up that singular product line leader with over 400 new items targeted at these two US fisheries – saltwater stripers and freshwater black bass.

Pike is Savage’s #1 fishery in Europe and the saltwater side (namely, European sea bass) is growing over there for Savage, and a lot of the successful lures in Europe (for pike) are spot-on for pike and muskie markets in the USA. So the pike/musky market in the US should come naturally to Savage as the new year unfolds and the brand gets more name recognition and marketing push for bass and stripers here, their successful products for pike in Europe should find success in the US too.

Sandeel Slug

Sandeel Slug

Likewise, many of the new items coming out for 2013 are also applicable to southern saltwater fisheries like snook, trout, redfish and tarpon. Also, the West Coast calico bass fishery is one sector the Savage Sandeel already shines – and many of the upcoming black bass products are well-suited for calico bass too.  Incremental new markets for cobia due to the new 3D Real Eel, and for light-tackling tuna should open to Savage’s new products too, especially in parts of New England where light tackle tuna fishing and trophy striped bass fishing are combined on the same trip with essentially the same tackle.

Savage Sandeel

Savage’s main success to date in the USA has been with the Sandeel for stripers in the Northeast and calico bass on the West Coast. A pleasant surprise was how bass anglers at Clear Lake, California and on other big California lakes have been killing bass on the Sandeel – and it’s the hottest bait on the world-famous trophy bass fishery on El Salto this year, says the company.

Flats Jig Hook

Unique jig hook made for the Sandeel Slug for inshore flats fishing.

The Sandeel or more specifically, the Sandeel jighead, is designed mainly for vertical fishing in deep water. It’s a narrow, current-cutting, center-balanced jighead of a style traditionally used in the Northeast striper fishery where it’s known collaquially as a “Nordic Eel” jighead. Nordic relates back to Scandinavia where Mads Grosell is from, but the Nordic Eel as used in the Northeast predates Mads. This Nordic Eel and now the Savage Sandeel head style excel in deep, fast, relatively open water – but there are better jighead options for very snaggy, shallow water, for example. This illustrates my earlier point that the company needs to remain nimble to provide what’s necessary (such as additional purpose jigheads in this example) as they roll out their new product line and US anglers face conditions that aren’t possible or perfect to fish without just-in-time product updates along the way – and making sure that any new jigs, rigs, hooks (for example) that are required are made available for the lures.

A perfect example of Savage doing exactly that is the “quick change” jighead that Mads created as a solution for inshore flats fishing for snook and redfish and everything going on the flats. He perceived a need to make a weedless hook system where you’re able to very quickly change your lure because when your on a flats boat and you spot 2-3 cruising redfish or a big snook, you can’t be sitting there changing your bait – they’ll see you. So he made this jighead that allows a very fast quick change. You just thread a new bait on the needle-like wire eye, put the hook through and you’re fishing. So this is quite a unique hook made just for the Sandeel Slug for inshore flats fishing – and if the company can follow through to dot the I’s and cross the T’s in terms of what’s best needed in additional product support for other fisheries, the brand will become well-accepted in the USA in no time.

Sandeel Slug

Introduced last year at ICAST 2011, the Sandeel Slug, has a natural baitfish look. Although called the Sandeel Slug, it mimics many baitfish. The company says it has superb darting action when rigged as a jerkbait or on a jig head. It’s rounded body is pointy on both ends, wide at the head, with a solid front part and hollow tail section. It really looks whippy. Savage says to fish it on an offset weedless hook – either weightless (for a floating surface presentation) or weighted for twitch and jerk action. It’s recommended for dropshot or wacky presentations too. Available in 3 sizes: 5-1/2, 7″ 8″ that are all perfect for bass fishing.

4" Sandeel Slug

The new micro-size 4″ Sandeel Slug – made especially for bass in the best new bass colors.

For the Sandeel Slug since that is so close to the Sandeel that’s been selling so well, Savage decided to go Full Monty into the bass colors for the Sandeel Slug. So they’ll have five specific black bass colors including the popular Sexy Shad color, for a total of 12 colors that will address everything from striped bass to black bass to snook, everything.

And they’re bringing out a smaller size – the 4″ Sandeel Slug –  that will prove invaluable for bass, walleye, ice fishing, steelhead, bonito, calico bass, you name it, says the company.

Twin-Rigged Sandeel Slug

This isn’t a product Savage offers but an incredible way to easily rig two Sandeel Slugs in tandem so they perform a mesmerizing dance unlike any lures I’ve ever seen before.

Twin-rigged Sandeel Slug

Twin-rigged Sandeel Slug

Mads has a way of rigging the new 4″ size Sandeel Slug where you can twin rig two just on a piece of fluorocarbon line. It’s not an Alabama rig. It’s just a piece of fluorocarbon line you rig it up on, with a loop knot made in the middle of the line in order to attach it to a swivel tied on your main line. Coming off the loop knot are two approximately 24″ lengths of line, and you tie a Sandeel Slug to each end, making sure one lure is tied 1″ to 2″ shorter than the other.

Mads says, “The trick is the shape of the jighead. You can’t do this with an ordinary jighead. We made this special darting jig head, basically just a downsize of the existing Sandeel heads, and when you twitch it, they glide all over the place and they never tangle.”

Each lure will glide as far to the side as their fluorocarbon leader lengths. At the end of each swing, the two independent lures turn around, face each other and do it again – like two trains going different ways on side-by-side tracks, they never collide but just dart and glide past each other every time you tap the rod. It’s truly amazing!

New! Hard 4Play and Soft 4Play in US Bass Colors

For Savage’s existing product line, the hard 4-jointed 4Play and the Soft 4Play articulated soft bait are their biggest claim to fame and their biggest sellers in Europe. For the US for 2013, they’re offering the hard and soft 4Play series in the appropriate colors needed for America – Sexy Shad, Baby Bass, Bluegill, Bone White, Hitch and Rainbow Trout. So the 4Play series, hard and soft, will be very specific in terms of colors for the US market now.

A Possible Entry Level Shad?

Hard 4Play

Soon to be available in colors specifically for the US, Savage’s flagship bait – the 4-part 4Play – has a jointed head and multi-jointed body. It spells murder on most any species of game fish – achieving stardom in European pike circles.

Since Savage has had so much success with their Soft 4Play which is their most famous jointed lure in the soft version, they’ve decided to produce a new soft shad lure for the US that has some resemblance to 4Play face (I presume for brand recognition) but will also have a very aggressive paddle tail action. Savage anticipates this will be a real killer for a lot of fish across the USA – bass, saltwater, basically everything that swims and every US angler will have some interest in this style of shad. The key on this particular product is that Savage is going to try to reach a highly-competitive price level if they can, with hopes that lots of people will be buying it, building a widespread, entry-level introduction to the Savage brand.

3D Scanning Real Live Bait to Make Lures ~ An Industry First

Savage is the first company in the industry to use 3D image scanners to produce 1:1 replicas of real fish – and to dramatically speed up lure development.

“Normally when you make a hand-carved lure or a hand-carved design, it takes you a good 6 months before you have the pilot-run sample, because you have to make the mold, adjust the action, material, everything by hand. But with this new technique, I can have a prototype in 3 days,” explains Mads. “Hand-carving lure models, how it’s done now, often using wax, wood, clay, modeling the material takes time, and to even try to reach this level of detail would take you forever, and in the end, you couldn’t achieve it anyway. There’s something about using a real fish and making a 1:1 replica. The laser will pick up the minutest details. You get like this biological feeling in the material and resultant lures. You can’t get that by hand. You can’t reach that detail level.”

Soft 4Play

For Savage Gear’s world-famous articulated 4Play hard and soft lures – they’re bringing a full array of USA bass colors to market, like: Baby Bass, Sexy Shad, Bluegill, Bone White and Hitch. Also Rainbow Trout on the larger size 4Plays.

“With a 3D mouse, I can modulate it. Sometimes I may scan different fish of the same species. One fish may have the perfect body proportions just what I want and another will have the scale setting that I want to use on a hard lure, so I combine files to make the perfect composite preyfish. I can put on any tail on I want. I can put anything on it, and then I take that to my 3D printer. You can 3D print in several materials, but the main material looks like ceramic. The same day I’ve done the scan, I have a printed model. I put that in a silicone mold and I pour the first prototype on the second day. Before this, I had 6 months lead time on a new product and now I can do it in a week easily.”

An added benefit for the lure designer is that this process will also quickly identify – within days instead of months – those projects or prototypes that probably shouldn’t be made, because they’re too expensive, too complicated or not feasible for any number of reasons.

“We were happy that we were the first ones and that may help our reputation and credibility in the industry People will remember hopefully that we were the first ones  – because next year they’re all going to be doing this,” claims Grosell.

3D Herring

3D Herring

Move over California swimbait maker men. There’s a new swimbait maker in town – Mads Grosell from Denmark. His 3D Herring was created using new state-of-the-art 3D scanning and imaging of real herring. No other lure manufacturer in the world is doing this – only Mads. 3D scanning results in an ultra-authentic computer reproduction of the original natural bait down to the smallest detail.

The first one that Savage succeeded in scanning from real fish is the 3D Herring. Savage decided to bring out just one size for the bass guys – 6″ and 1-1/2 oz with two heavier sizes with beefier hooks for stripers. The inside harness on the bass version is made with non-lead material to get a bigger volume on it so that the soft material sticks and stays in place on the harness so that you don’t pull the harness out of the bait, so it lasts longer.

There are two behaviors – swimming and escape – that Grosell designed into this swimbait. Every swimbait designer strives to incorporate the best possible swimming action on the retrieve, and Mads perfected a great side flashing and rocking motion first; then Mads added a unique second dimension. He designed this swimbait to also express the perfect “escape pattern” when paused after it’s bumped or a fish is seen following it. Simply letting the swimbait fall to bottom activates this second “escape pattern” swimming action that no one else is designing into their swimbait concepts, only Mads.

3D Real Eel

Made from 3D scanning a real eel coupled with an ultra-slow kicking tail that mimics an eel’s S-shaped locomotion. The 3D Real Eel comes in sizes from 6” to 18″ and in two versions – one that’s prerigged and one that’s unrigged which may be used with your choice of jighead or on an offset shank hook. It’s designed to swim with a serpentine tail action at any retrieve speed, even ultra-slow and on the fall.

The larger sizes are aimed at the striper fishery where this will be phenomenal. The best possible live bait for stripers is a live eel – and now there’s the best possible reproduction of that bait. Yet Savage has something here, in the larger sizes, that’s also going to become a staple for cobia as well as pike and muskie.

3D Real Eel

The larger sizes of the prerigged version has a moving weight system with a ball on a raceway inside. The ball moves toward the tail to aid casting accuracy and distance, and also lodges in the tail end of the raceway when the lure is being retrieved, so it swims horizontally and leisurely. When paused, the ball rolls to the head of the raceway, causing the Real Eel to nose down and drop toward bottom at a faster speed in an evasive “escape” maneuver that triggers mad strikes.

The smaller 6″, 8″ and even 12” sizes are perfect for bass. Specific colors made just for bass fishing include: olive brown pearl, black green pearl, june bug, oxblood and watermelon. Also snook, redfish and a lot of other gamefish are going to hammer this.

The unrigged version is actually twin-injection molded so you have two different injections or colors of material that are shot into the mold whereas the prerigged version is single injection molded and painted after. They’re scented with a mix of shrimp and sardine scent that Mads had found over the years to be the right combination for scenting soft  lures. He did experiment with an eel scent but said it was so horrific that he couldn’t put it in production.

3D Eel Slug

The 3D Eel Slug is a shorter or abbreviated eel-shaped bait. Mads made this one using the same 3D technique by scanning the tail end of a real eel (reproduced as the the soft bait dressing), computer-grafted to the 3D-scanned head of a real eel which is perfectly reproduced as the external metal jig head.

Mads says, “The great thing about this lure is you have such a wide glide. When you tap it, it just shoots out from side to side. This is for the striper guys but also for tuna with a 4X strong hook.”

A neat innovation on the 3D Eel Slug is the use of a double hook jig head. “The thing about fishing a single hook for a lot of these very strong fish, I found that it’s difficult to set the hook, and very easy for them to throw a single hook. They pull so hard that a hole can enlarge around the hook so it can slip out or rip right out of the fish. The double hook, when they bite it, the small double hook has a better hook-up rate and sits right there with minimal tearing,” explains Mads.

3D Trout

Unrigged 3D Real Eel

The unrigged 3D Real Eel is twin-injection molded and has superior details and realism.

Last but not least is the new 3D Trout for 2013 which is a 1:1 scale replica from a real trout – with ultra-realistic swimming action and features.

Savage is bringing out a very targeted selection – only two sizes to begin with and three colors: Light Trout, Dark Trout and Lake Hitch. Again, there’s a non-lead alloy inside, so there’s a bigger volume on the internal harness so the soft material sticks and stays much better on it, so the lure lasts longer.

Mads says, “This is for the California boys because all they talk about is trout, trout, trout – and it was fairly easy and quick to do. I scanned it and one week later I had the first version in my hand. When I saw it in the tank, how it swam, I knew that with just a little more testing, we’d be able to make the production mold right away. What you can do with the 3D scan is amazing! On the smaller size trout replica, it shows parr markings of an immature trout, but once trout reach five inches, the parr markings go away; so you’ll see that the larger size trout replica is just big enough so it no longer has any parr markings.”

3D Real Trout

New 3D Real Trout in brownish/silver Lake Hitch color.

A neat innovation on the 3D Trout is there’s a double frog hook rigged on the belly (that you can clip on or off) and there’s a hook-keeper fin (see fin behind hook eyelet in photo) on the belly situated so it holds the double hook in place. “When you see that swim, it looks like the hook is a natural part of the belly fins, moving together,” says Mads.

So that’s the Full Monty that Savage’s bringing to America soon, to be marketed and distributed here by Okuma. The massive new product line is innovative and it’s aimed at two fisheries – bass and saltwater stripers – the very fisheries where I have concentrated most of my 40+ years fishing experience. So there’s no doubt to me that this product mix is spot-on to introduce to those markets. Of course the products will find appeal to fish and fishermen in other fisheries too – calico bass, snook, sea trout, tarpon, pike, muskie, cobia and light tackle tuna to name a few. “What we’re bringing out is right at at the max of what’s possible to introduce in one year. It’s a lot of item numbers (over 400), and we don’t want to spill all the beans at once – but I’ve got some crazy stuff coming up!” says Mads Grosell hinting at even more marvels for next year’s ICAST. The world’s greatest lure designers are like that, always conjuring up ever more ingenious lures for us all to catch more fabulous and bigger fish.

New! Savage Finesse Line of Topwaters, Crankbaits, Jerkbaits, Lipless

Finesse Double Wobble 50

Finesse Double Wobble 50

Savage’s extensive new Finesse Series is aimed 100% at the US bass market, says Mads Grosell, the genius behind Savage Gear’s lure designs.

There’s a full range of 12 unique models/sizes in all, including topwater lures, shallow, medium and deep cranks, lipless cranks, suspending and jointed jerkbaits for bass.

All the details of these bass lures are to the highest standards possible. Hooks are of the highest Japanese quality.

They’re called the “Finesse” series but importantly, unlike many Japanese brands of “finesse” baits, none of Savage’s are excessively light for the US bass angler’s taste, ranging from very castable 1/4 oz sizes up to 3/4 oz. So they aren’t really tiny nor lightweight yet they’re not big baits either, they’re “just right” measuring from 2″ to 4″ maximum length.

Savage sums up their Finesse Series as pretty much nothing more than downsizing these most effective types of baits or lures and using colors and liveliness so that even the most finicky bass in the clearest of clear water will not hesitate to hit them.

The lure actions also are “finesse” meaning subtle, non-alarming yet lively. So they’re appealing to finicky bass in clear water conditions. Savage says that when it comes to winter fishing, or those times throughout the year when fish are inactive and very difficult to trigger, anglers will find more success at catching bass with the appropriate Finesse series model for that particular season and water temperature. These baits can be fished at a much slower rate and will stay in the strike zone of inactive or lethargic bass much longer, says the company.

The color patterns were selected specifically for the US market, and the colors are part of the overall finesse theme too. They’re not bold or brash. They don’t have hearty red mouth splashes nor other heavy-handed markings. They’re unobtrusive and natural, right down to the cleverly color-coordinated hooks on select lures, using flashy silver color hooks to blend into a lure’s belly plus a black hook on the tail to suggest the dark fin rays typical of a baitfish tail.

Finesse Crank 50, 60, 65

The Finesse Crank addresses the bulk part of the US market on crankbaits. So they’ve got small and medium cranks plus a deep diver that runs down 15-16 feet on a fast crank.

Finesse Crank

• 50mm: 2″. Weight: 1/4oz . Type: Floating, dives 3-7′. Action: Tight wobble.
• 60mm: 2-1/2″. Weight: 2/3oz .Type: Floating, dives 7-12′. Action: Tight wobble.
• 65mm: 2-3/4″. Weight: 3/4oz. Type: Floating, dives 9-16′. Action: Tight wobble.

Bone Crank 52

Bone Crank has an innovative sound system inside. It’s actually a metal spine that’s inside the lure and that makes the noise.

Finesse Bone Crank

• 52mm: 2″. Weight: 1/3oz. Type: Floating, dives 2-5´. Action: Wobble.

Double Wobble 50

With it’s long tail, this gives the perfect imitation of a mouse swimming across the surface.

It’s also available as the Double Wobble Crank 50 which is the same except without the feather dressing on the tail treble.

Finesse Double Wobble

• 50mm: 2″ body w/ 2” feather tail. Weight: 1/4oz. Type: Floating, runs just under surface. Action: Waking, big wobble.

Prop Prey 50

A hybrid lure that’s a popper with a prop – just with one hook on it. So you can pop it and pause it, and then when you straight retrieve it, there’s a big prop on the back side that spins and splashes on a slow, steady retrieve which is often the triggering action when a bass explodes on it!

Finesse Prop Prey

• 50mm: 2″ w/ 2” feather tail. Weight: 1/2oz. Type: Floating.  Action: Popping, splashing.

Top Prey 100

A differentiating factor is it has tungsten instead of typical steel balls inside. So you get a more stable flight trajectory, enhanced casting accuracy and a little extra distance every time!

The belly hook is the Owner Stinger ST46. The tail hook is the Daiichi round bend. By combining these two hooks gives you the perfect hook-up ratio and it’s also really sweet to match the silver belly and darker tail fin pattern of a baitfish.

Finesse Top Prey

• 100mm: 4″. Weight: 1/2oz . Type: Floating.  Action: Walk-the-dog

Vibra Prey 62, 70

In two sizes/weights. Again, this lure’s tungsten loaded for extra casting distance and has the same nifty Owner/Daiichi hook combo for better hook-ups and a more attractive appearance.

Finesse Vibra Prey

• 62mm: 2-1/2″. Weight: .40 oz. Type: Sinking, Noisy, Flashy, Vibration
• 70mm: 2-7/8″. Weight: 3/4oz.

CBL Prey 95

The suspending Circuit Board Lip (CBL) model gives you a very, very thin lip and on the twitch, a huge dart with a very tight swimming vibration.

Finesse CBL Prey

• 95mm: 3-3/4″. Weight: 1/2oz. Type: Suspending, Runs 1-3′. Action:  Rolling, darting.

Jointed Prey 95

Jointed Prey is a floating lure that has a nice S curve wobble. When you twitch it, it just shoots out. It’s a super powerfishing bait.

Finesse Jointed Prey

• 95mm: 3-3/4″. Weight: .40 oz. Type: Floating, dives 1-3′. Action: Rolling wobble.

Russ Bassdozer

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