When a box of Sebile Stick Shadds was delivered to the On The Water office in 2009, after Sebile signed on as the official lure sponsor of the Striper Cup, our group of striper fishermen was vexed. The lure had the profile of a wide-bodied baitfish, but with no lip or joints or any clues as to how it might swim. The questions began flying around the office. Is it a topwater bait? Does it dive? How is it meant to be fished?
In order to find out, we each grabbed a Stick Shadd and used it that week. On my first cast with the lure, I worked it like I would a walk-the-dog-style lure, fishing it with quick snaps of the rod tip. But instead of staying on the surface like I expected, the lure dove, going a couple feet down and darting all over the place. On my next cast, I reeled the lure straight in. The Stick Shadd had a subtle wiggle and wandered slightly from side to side as it moved through the water. It swam very much like an actual live baitfish, as opposed to many artificial lures that have an exaggerated swimming motion. Both actions looked like they could work on predatory fish.
Patrick Sebile designs his lures by watching the prototypes in a tank as moving water is washed past them. He’s very interested in how the water is displaced by a lure, as that ultimately determines how the lure will act underwater. To determine this, Patrick will introduce dyes to the water to see how the water moves around his lures. His goal with the Stick Shadd was to create a lure that had very little friction with the surrounding water, so that it would move freely and glide through the water.
The Stick Shadd’s action comes from a thin keel that runs the length of the lure. With a quick snapping retrieve, the lure will dart unpredictably in any direction. This erratic action of the Stick Shadd is identical to a frightened and fleeing baitfish, and this action triggers a fierce reaction strike from nearby predators. This keel also makes the lure snake through the water on a straight retrieve.
If you were to watch Sebile fish his Stick Shadd for stripers, you might think at first that the retrieve is too fast or aggressive. Patrick works the lure with fast, sharp snaps of the rod tip, much faster than the typical speed one would use for stripers. The bass, however, don’t seem to mind. In fact on one outing off Cape Cod, using that quick, snappy retrieve, Sebile outfished all the boats around him that were using “traditional” striper lures and techniques.
Surfcasters and boat fishermen quickly took to the lures, and the Stick Shadd became even more popular than Sebile’s flagship lure, the Magic Swimmer. This popularity is no doubt due to the lure’s versatility. The Stick Shadd casts well, and it can be fished shallow or deep, fast or slow, and for a variety of species.
The baits come in four different models – floating, suspending, sinking and fast sinking – and six sizes from 3 to 8 ¼ inches. With such a wide range of sizes, the baits can be effectively used for just about any predatory fish in the Northeast from largemouth and smallmouth bass to bluefin tuna. The different models are chosen based on the target species and the body of water. For making long casts over deep and fast-moving water, the fast-sinking bait is a great choice. The floating model works best wherever fish are feeding near the surface. Although it floats at rest, this bait will swim down to a couple feet during the retrieve. The suspending model is best suited for freshwater fishing in still water, and the sinking Stick Shadd is the most versatile model, according to Sebile. The lure can be fished anywhere from top to bottom, and can even be counted down to a specific depth.
The Stick Shadd is also available in the Sebile Salt and Sun Series. The Salt and Sun baits are designed to be a bit more rugged for handling the biggest, meanest fish out there. These baits come rigged with heavier hooks, split rings and through-wire, and are also filled with foam. The foam-filled bodies come into play if a big toothy fish cracks the lure; with foam inside, the lure will not fill with water and it will still float and swim correctly.
Picking your favorite lure out of a catalog of lures you’ve created must feel a little like choosing which one of your own kids is your favorite, but Patrick Sebile doesn’t hesitate when asked, claiming that if he could carry only one lure in his tackle box, it would be the Stick Shadd. And as more fishermen try fishing the Stick Shadd, they are declaring it as their favorite too.