When an angler who has tallied 300 sportfishing records, caught 734 different species of fish, and wet a line in 64 countries says that he designs lures for himself, that’s a good thing for the rest of us. When that angler happens to be Patrick Sebile and he says that his new Bull Minnow is part of a new series of lures that is the culmination of all he has learned, it’s probably a good idea for you to make room in your arsenal.
The Bull Minnow is one of Sebile’s new Action First series of baits. Just as the name implies, the priority with this line is in the action! According to Sebile, “If traveling the seven seas and fishing among more lakes and rivers than I can count has taught me anything, it is that the action of a bait catches fish, above all!” He then added, “Fancy finishes catch fishermen, and while confidence in a lure is helpful, it gets old when you’re not catching.”
The priority in the design of the Bull Minnow, just like the rest of the Action First series, is the action. What could easily have been priority number two is the price! If you’re one of the growing legions who would just as soon not go fishing than not have a Sebile lure or two at the ready, then you’re well aware that premium lures usually come with premium prices. But somehow, some way, Sebile has managed to price these plugs at the bargain rate of under 8 bucks! It beats me how, but more on that later.
My first impression of the Bull Minnow is that it has little in common with the typical Finnish-style minnow lure. It has a humpback design that bulges on the sides and looks like a hybrid of crankbait genes crossed with the more typical minnow design. According to Sebile, my reaction was pretty accurate.
“That humpback creates instability on the retrieve, giving the Bull Minnow a wider swimming action,” pointed out Sebile. In fact, in comparison to the tight wobble that epitomizes most minnows, the moves of the Bull are wild. Striper sharpies who are fond of tossing wooden metal-lip plugs will have an instant affinity for its rolling/wobbling action.
That humpback, along with the innovative Xternal Weight System, concentrates the weight of the lure, making it a casting machine. If you’re wondering how it would do in an ad hoc comparison with the competition, Sebile has already done it, and the Bull Minnow casts farther than similar-sized minnows. The Xternal Weight System is one of the Bull Minnow’s truly groundbreaking features. This system is composed of zinc alloy and blends into the shell of the lure in the belly area, where it is clearly visible. Sebile considered internal weights but he would have had to opt for an exotic metal, such as tungsten or even platinum, to pull off the exceptionally dense concentration of weight he was after. And, considering that from the onset the Action Series was value driven, keeping a lid on the cost mattered greatly.
The point of the concentrated weight system in the belly of the lure was to give it a low center of gravity and unprecedented stability no matter what the retrieve or the conditions. As Patrick puts it, “Crank it, swim it, jerk it, roll it, troll it—it doesn’t matter, the Bull Minnow doesn’t falter.” Having fished in washing machines such as the Cape Cod Canal, he is well aware of the need for having a bait that can handle a cooking current. “The positioning of the Xternal Weight System makes the Bull Minnow extraordinarily stable in rough seas or in strong current such as the Canal,” said Sebile.
This system also has the added advantage of being an extraordinarily sturdy anchor to attach the belly hook. The hanger is cemented to the Xternal Weight System, and this added durability has allowed Sebile to spec out the 5-inch version for braids up to 65-pound test! There is an additional single “knocker” weight inside the Bull Minnow that has the dual function of contributing to farther casts and creating noise. There is mounting belief among many that, in certain conditions, a single, loud “CHONK” bead will significantly out-fish silent baits as well as those with multiple smaller internal beads. This is especially true when fish are behaving aggressively.
“I’ve done all kinds of tests to see the reaction of fish to sound beads in a lure,” pointed out Sebile. Simply put, one loud clanking bead spreads soundwaves farther and faster in the water than a series of smaller ones and is more likely to get noticed by a predator.
To illustrate this point, Sebile compared an environment replete with 6-foot boulders to a shallow lily pad bed. It takes a much different bait to get the attention of fish prowling amid that sizeable structure as opposed to the relative tranquility of lily pad stalks. The vibration and “CHONK” coming from the Bull Minnow is just the ticket for the “power fishing” required for the former, while more of a stealthy finesse approach might be the better move for the latter. This is the domain of the Bull Minnow. It’s a tool meant to be cast farther than the others and, if necessary, worked faster and more erraticly in order to cover a lot of water and find feeding fish. The lure’s jerkbait roots become apparent when the need arises for a more variable retrieve. If a steady, quick cadence doesn’t cut it, try retrieving the Bull Minnow with periodic snaps of the rod punctuated with pauses of a second or two. It’s often this change in the rhythm of the bait that drives gamesters bonkers.
Minnow-type lures are often promoted as perfect for matching slim profiled forage. But as Sebile pointed out, most prey has more heft to it than the prototypical minnow-type bait. “The marketing of most minnow lures implies that baitfish are usually slim. But, unless the forage is sand eels, a taller profile such as the Bull Minnow is more of a match.” Think of a herring in saltwater, or a shiner in fresh water, and you can see his point.
Bull Minnows were designed for the both fresh and saltwater conditions, and like striped bass staples such as the Stick Shadd and Magic Swimmer, under certain conditions Patrick recommends beefing up the components. For example, if the rushing tide of the Cape Cod Canal, Race Point or Montauk is your playground and there is that everpresent possibility of hooking into a moby, then he suggests removing the rear hook on the lure and upgrading the belly hook and split ring. Surf rats who have packed Sebiles in their surf bags for years are no strangers to doing this to other plugs.
Striper hounds are always asking for bigger plugs, so I naturally had to ask Patrick if there were any plans for building a larger version of the Bull Minnow to complement the current 4- and 5-inch models. “Even trophy fish are not always searching for a big meal,” he responded. One of the goals with this series was to supplement the bigger standards that Sebile already offers.
“There is nothing more frustrating than being caught ill-prepared with large lures when the fish are feeding exclusively on smaller forage – been there, done that and it’s not fun!” he added.
The good news for those who cannot be swayed away from the “bigger is better” mentality is that Sebile is adding a 6-inch version, which will debut in Europe and Australia next year, and if there is sufficient demand it will enter the US market shortly thereafter. Considering that the 4-inch weighs in at ½ ounce and the 5-inch at ¾ ounce, look for the larger Bull Minnow to be in that sweet spot of 1 ounce.