Got Stryper Baits
By Patrick Paquette
Got Stryper baits are a local, family-owned company with a great story. They are a typical American company, born out of stubborn refusal to settle for less, and using advanced technology to develop a better product. I call them “wicked smaht baits” because of their cutting-edge design.
In 2006, Capt. Alan Hastbacka of Chatham, Massachusetts was launching his Got Stryper charter fishing operation, and like many of the local captains, his go-to technique was (and still is) light-tackle fishing for striped bass in the many tidal current rips off the backside of Cape Cod and Nantucket.
Alan wanted to see if he could create a soft-plastic bait that would work on striped bass in the rips and meet some of the particular needs he has as a charter captain. One quality he wanted in his soft-plastic bait was durability. He wanted to create a bait that could stand up to catching multiple striped bass so that his clients could spend more time fishing instead of re-rigging fatally damaged lures. (Not to mention that constantly replacing damaged baits could quickly cut into charter profits.) The second issue was a larger problem. Most soft plastics are so lightweight that in order to get the bait down in the moving water of the rip, he’d have to use a heavy jighead. This made it harder for clients to impart the action necessary to entice stripers to bite. Alan guides a lot of children and novice anglers, so this was a problem he had to solve in order to be a successful guide.
Alan became obsessed with developing a soft-plastic bait tough enough to last through multiple fish yet easy enough to fish that his novice angling clients (especially children) could score well on a regular basis. To complete this quest, he called on a chemical engineer aunt and a design engineer father, who combined their knowledge with the experience of an expert fisherman to create the Got Stryper Pintail.
Got Stryper baits are made with some of the heaviest and strongest grade materials found among soft-plastic baits. Alan credits his aunt, for pointing him in the right direction as far as what materials to consider and test as the baits were developed. Using stronger material makes the bait much more durable and therefore affordable to use.
Even more important is that the added weight of the heavier material allows for use of less lead in rigging. The heavy tails can be balanced with a lighter jighead, creating a bait that casts easily yet has excellent action in the water. This is particularly important in fast-current situations. For example, surfcasters can rig a 2-ounce tail on a 2- or 3-ounce jighead, providing enough weight to cast far and reach deep water. Once the lure sinks, the balance of weight across the length of the bait means that the angler can swim it with a lifelike horizontal action across the bottom as opposed to the more vertical up-and-down action that comes from a heavy jighead and a lighter-bodied bait.
In addition to the material advantage, these baits use some surprisingly advanced technology in their design. The structural design was created by Capt. Alan’s father, Albin Hastbacka. A graduate of M.I.T. with a master’s degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, “Mr. H.” used a “rapid prototyping” machine to create a design based on hydrodynamics, the science of water flow. The same machine had been used to design professional golf clubs, Tiffany jewelry and classified equipment of the U.S. Military. Mr. H. explained to me that although the eye is drawn to the cutouts in the sides of the bait, the “living hinges” as he calls them, the truly important feature is the raised nubs between the hinges. Combined, the two features create the unique movement of the baits that fish sure seem to love.
Got Stryper Baits come in two shapes. The “Pintail” is a stickbait that comes in four sizes: 7-inch, half-ounce; 9-inch, 1 ounce; 11-inch, 2-ounce; and 13-inch, 3-ounce. The Pintail was hand-poured for the first few years and, although it worked well and gained a small following, it was not very attractive. In 2010 the company finally had grown enough to make the move to injection molding, and the result of matching the state of the art design to state of the art manufacturing took these baits to a new level. The Pintail now has a perfectly smooth finish that not only looks good to the human eye but also enhances each of the standard ten colors.
Last year I was lucky enough to participate in field trials of a second Got Stryper bait shape that is now widely available. The “Stubby” is best described as a soft-plastic version of a typical wooden or hard-plastic Spook-type lure. Its design employs the exact same body and tail as the Pintail, but it has a completely different head. The Stubby was primarily designed to be a topwater bait, however its ability to “push” water also creates some unique subsurface action when rigged on a jighead. Look at the stubby and think about the profile of a bunker or other deep-bodied baitfish and it will be clear why once this bait is fished it stays in the rotation.
The Stubby comes in a 5-inch, 5/8-ounce and a 7-inch, 1½-ounce version. It comes in pearl, peach, pink, chrome, and black. The Stubby is not yet injection molded so it has a less than perfect finish, but it has caught plenty of fish for me just the way it is.
There is a definite learning curve to rigging these baits, but I find that both shapes can be rigged using the exact same methods. My favorite way to rig them is to use a 10/0 Owner Beast Hook, which comes with a hitchhiker screw. This hook is strong enough and has taken both large striped bass and bluefin tuna up to 300 pounds. It casts well without added in weight, although occasionally in very windy conditions I’ll add a nail weight to the tail.
Another way to rig these baits is on an offset worm hook matched to the size of the bait. For largemouth bass, try a 5/0 worm hook in a 5-inch Stubby, crawled over and through lily pads. A 7/0 or 8/0 worm hook on a dropper loop makes a deadly cod teaser (try white or clear).
On a large worm hook or on the Owner Beast, these baits can be fished on top or just sub-surface in a side-to-side “walk the dog” fashion or a twitch-twitch-pull retrieve. If you’re fishing it correctly, you will notice a “hole in the water” left by the unique action of the tail whip. This is an incredible match to the tail action of a small mackerel or a large sand eel as it flees from a predator. The action is really pretty slick and is a reason why these baits catch fish.
If you want to swim the jig through deep water in an area with current, simply nip off the nose of the bait to match the jighead and bring the hook up through the back of the bait with the hinges on either side. For vertical jigging, turn the bait on its side and bring the hook out somewhere along the raised letters. This makes the tail action work in an up-and-down high-speed jigging action that is popular for everything from stripers to bluefin tuna right now.