The Sonic BaitFish™ Review

The Sonic BaitFish (SBF), Patent Pending

(Sizes: 1/10, 1/6, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 & 3/4 oz.)

Tech Guide

Review from Mack's Lure Pro Staffer Mike Hall

An entire book can be exclusively devoted to the Sonic BaitFish (SBF) because of its unsurpassed versatility and multi-species effectiveness, in open fresh and salt water, and through the ice.  Whether it's called a blade bait, jigging spoon, flutter spoon, metal jig or "Killer Fish", the Sonic BaitFish alone can replace a tackle box full of different lures because of its versatility.  Its natural baitfish appearance and lively sonic action have consistently produced impressive catches down to 80 feet.  The purpose of this Tech Guide is to provide you with basic information to use as a springboard to increase your knowledge, success, and enjoyment on the water.  Critical tips are repeated throughout this guide.  Practice with your SBF in clear water to become familiar with the action of its many different versions.

Sonic BaitFish Illustration 1

Illustration 1


Sonic BaitFish Illustration 2

Illustration 2

No other lure type has three highly productive line/snap attachment locations on a single lure back, nose and tail.  This quick change conversion system results in its unique versatility, vibration, and flutter.  The blade bait vibration version (line/snap attached to the balance point insert on top of the back) is designed for vertical jigging.  The flutter version includes nose or tail line/snap attachments with the hook on the opposite end�designed for casting, jigging, swimming and trolling.

DON'T FISH BLINDLY:  Whether on land or in a boat, use your vision and/or electronic fish locator to locate baitfish schools or game fish before fishing.  Look for working birds or "disturbed" water caused by swirling, boiling, or leaping fish.  A boiling fish is a feeding fish and almost a guarantee of a hook-up immediately after casting a Sonic BaitFish (SBF) directly to that spot.

LOCATE FISH-ATTRACTING STRUCTURES:  Freshwater  includes submerged weedbeds, weedbed edges, weedbed channels, reedbeds, standing timber, wing dam eddies, rock piles, rocky reefs, navigation channels, deep water side of no wake or reef-marked buoys, rip-rap, drop-offs, ledges, any submerged structure including artificial reefs, pinnacles and wrecks, offshore humps, submerged roadbeds, deep water points of land & their eddies, deep holes next to pilings off bridges/piers & docks, power plant water & dam discharges, shadows around flood-lit water, deep holes at river mouths, active springs, clean water meeting dirty water and thermoclines.  Saltwater substitute kelpbeds for weedbeds and add tidal rips, color lines, floating debris, oil rigs, towers and fishing behind working shrimp boats.

ADVERSE CONDITIONS THAT IMPACT FISHING:  These include strong tides, dead tides, muddy or contaminated water, excessive wind, shifting winds, poor boat control, poor line control, full moon phases (fish pm instead of am) and fast-falling barometric pressure (slowly rising barometers are best for active fish).  Most importantly, avoid any situation that compromises your safety.

LINE CONTROL:  Line control is extremely important!  Fishing on a tight line maximizes your sensitivity, lure presentation, and hook-sets.  To remedy a bow in your line, cast directly up or down-wind.  Fish with the lightest braided mainline possible to minimize wind/water resistance and to increase the feel of your lure over bottom structure!  For maximum jigging efficiency, when anchored in fast-moving water (ocean tides or river current), point your rod tip directly at your line.  This is similar to using the sight on a rifle.  It maximizes your line control, feel, and hook-sets.  This can only be accomplished by jigging off the stern end of the boat.  This position gives you a tremendous advantage, by fishing in a direct line down-current for optimum line control (no slack line), and the best feel for bottom structure and bite detection.  On a drift in deeper water for fish on bottom, cast directly down-current to maximize the feel of your lure as it's being jigged over bottom structure.  If there is a sideways angle to your line and the rod tip, your cast is not directly down-current (down-wind).  On a drift for suspended fish near surface, cast directly up-current and fish with a lighter-weight lure, depending on drift speed.  Remember in most situations fish the smallest lure to effectively reach your target species.  Do not be concerned with the size of your lure as much as getting it to where the fish are located.  That's more important than "matching the hatch".

HOOKS:  The 1/10 and 1/6 oz Sonic BaitFish come factory-equipped, in the blade bait version (snap to the top of the back), with attached self-sleeving double hooks and a duo-lock snap.  This is the vertical jigging version but is designed for quick changes to other versions.

Sonic BaitFish Illustration 2

Illustration 2

The larger sizes are rigged with the snap attached to the nose to accommodate all versions including casting, jigging, swimming, or trolling.  If your state requires the use of single hooks, replace the double, or treble, hook preferably with a single siwash-type hook (large eye for a free swinging connection & wide bend to increase hook-ups).  Attach hook with the smallest possible split ring or attach hook directly to the tail insert by opening the hook eye then fastening it to the insert.  Simply crimp the barb to render the hook barbless.  Suggested single hook sizes: 1/10 oz / #  6; 1/6 oz / # 4; 1/4 oz / #4 or #2; 1/3 oz / #2; 1/2 oz / #2; 3/4 oz / #1.  Note: In fast-moving water and when trolling, changing up to the two larger size hooks will not impair the action of the SBF.  However, when casting and jigging, changing to larger hooks will proportionately reduce and alter the lure's lively action.

HOOK FILES:  Sharp hooks dramatically increase hook-ups!  If your hook point does not stick in your fingernail (not your skin) while sliding it over its surface, then it needs sharpening.  The best sharpener is a fine tooth metal file that is not rusty.  Lightly run the file over any roughness from all three angles.  Check for sharpness throughout your day on the water.  To prevent rust, always lubricate any carbon metal file at the end of your fishing day.  A rusted file is useless in achieving a fast and effective sharp hook point.

SNAPS & SWIVELS:  When attaching leader to braid mainline or other non-monofilament mainline, swivels are not necessary, because line twist is usually not a problem.  However, a swivel attaching mainline-to-leader creates a stronger connection than a direct leader-to-line knot.  The only exception for using a snap swivel is when trolling by attaching it directly to the nose insert on the SBF.  Conversely, a swivel is recommended for all monofilament mainline applications to minimize its chronic line twist problems.  Attach the swivel 2 - to 5 feet between the mainline and leader, depending on water clarity.  Longer rods can accommodate longer leaders, especially for clearer water.  For improved performance monofilament should be avoided in favor of braided line or limp fluorocarbon mainline.  Note:  Maximum lure action is achieved by attaching the wide bend duo-lock wire snap (enclosed in package) to your lure.  Loop knots are better than direct ties, but "metal-to-metal" is best for the liveliest lure action.

LEADER: Fluorocarbon leader is necessary to increase strikes when cutoffs by sharp teeth are not a problem.  Use longer and thinner diameter leader in clearer water.  Attach leader to mainline with a double uni-knot to minimize hardware for line-shy fish.  Only use wire leader if absolutely necessary added hardware results in less strikes.  Tip: Highly productive tip from pro Mike Hall, for fishing in ultra-clear open water and through the ice "From bluegills, to 40 lb lake trout, I fish with 4 lb Berkley Sensation or fluorocarbon mainline. These are soft finish and stiff core lines that resist line twist in cold conditions and will not coil.  No leader or swivel is used.  Line twist is diminished by allowing the SBF (in the blade bait version) to spin free every time upon retrieval.  For the best presentation, always use the wide bend duo-lock snap attached to the end of your line."

MAIN LINE:  No-stretch braided line is superior to monofilament for longer casts, better hook-sets, reducing line drag, and better sensitivity for feeling strikes and structure, especially with smaller SBF.  Before each outing, check for leader/line-weakening frays to avoid lost lures or fish.

RODS:  The most important feature is a fast action tip for a fast action response to a strike.  Basically, a medium or medium-heavy 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 ft length spinning rod will cover most applications.  When surface skimming ("gurgling") a SBF on the surface, a longer spinning rod works best in keeping as much line out of the water while fast-retrieving, with the rod held high.  Reducing water-slapping line on the surface minimizes spooking the fish and increases strikes.

LURE FINISHES:  Metallic finishes work best in clear, sunny water.  UV, gold and high fluorescent finishes work best in daylight clear, tea-stained and murky water.  Glow-in-the-dark works in the same water conditions, both day & night.

SCENT:  If scent is necessary, add nightcrawler pieces for yellow perch and walleyes in open fresh water and minnow/gulp pieces through the ice (also good for crappie and trout).  In salt water, scent is usually not needed.  At times, adding shrimp or squid pieces will increase strikes from snapper and grouper.  A very productive alternative is Pro-Cure high performance gel scents, with its wide variety of effective scents for every species of fresh and salt water fish.
Never overload your SBF with natural bait as it will reduce, or kill, its action.

LURE SIZE:  Think big but use the smallest SBF possible to reach your target.  This is especially effective when the bite goes dead.  Going as small as possible will often beat "matching the hatch".  During dead tides, rapidly-changing wind directions and fluctuating barometric pressure, most fish will only react to a tiny "snack" and not a large meal.

HOOK-TO-LINE FOULING: a) The blade bait version (line/snap connection to the top of the back) functions on the principle of vibration.  It is the main fish attracting action when vertical jigging.  If no vibration is felt, the lure is fouled (the hook is snagged on the line).  Before retrieving, try 4 to 6 strong rod jerks to correct the fouling.  If successful, the SBF will be reset and vibration restored.  b) The nose or tail line/snap connection versions operate on the principle of flutter.  Just the opposite occurs if vibration is felt.  Repeat the same reset procedure as above to correct the fouling.


CASTING: Surface to bottom

1A) Surface skimming ("gurgling"): Deadly, early morning and late evening, near shoreline with calm water.  Cast and fast-retrieve with the rod held high to minimize line-slap in the water.  A "gurgling" sound & action, similar to an Arbogast "Jitterbug" surface lure, will result when properly retrieved.  The longer the rod, the easier the presentation.  1/10 and 1/6 oz SBF work best for most fresh water fish.  TIP:  Switch to technique 1B if 1A is not producing.

1B) Popper / chugger retrieve:  By attaching the smallest SBF 14-16 inches behind a popper or two inch popping cork, a very effective and exciting combination is created for fresh or salt water fish near the surface.  The 1/10 ounce is especially deadly for largemouth bass.  Calm, twilight water is a "magical" time with this technique. Basically, it is similar to conditions applied to surface skimming (1A).  There are two exceptions a) The SBF is attached to a float with a concave mouth to create a splashing sound on the surface; the deeper the nose concavity, the louder the sound.  Use a 2 inch popping cork or popper for the 1/10 & 1/6 ounce SBF.  

Illustration 3

Illustration 3

Remove all hooks from the popper since it's the attractor and not the "catcher".  Make certain that the weight of the lure does not sink the float.  b) The fast, continuous popping action is created by working the rod sideways or straight down.  This creates a louder pop vs a vertical rod lift.  A shorter rod works better.  This technique creates a wild darting lure action that results in exciting and explosive surface-boiling strikes.  The sound of the popper attracts fish but it's the action of the lure that triggers strikes.  Unlike conventional poppers, do not pause on the retrieve (a panicked, fleeing baitfish triggers more strikes).  For more positive hook-ups the size of the tail hook can be increased.  As with all SBF casting and trolling applications, attach your duo-lock snap to the nose with the hook on the tail.

2) Straight, slow retrieve: The swimming, fluttering and darting action of the SBF is very effective on a slow and continuous retrieve.  This is a very basic, but effective, presentation for any depth surface, mid depth and near bottom.  This is deadly whether casting or trolling.

3) Straight, fast retrieve: Very effective near the surface, especially when casting to working birds.  For suspended fish, fast-retrieve after the SBF hits bottom.  This technique is deadly for triggering strikes from suspended species such as mackerel, salmon, striped bass, and tuna, as the lure frantically swims through the intermediate strike zone on its way to the surface.

4) Bottom bouncing on the retrieve: When drifting in deeper water, or snaggy shallower water, cast directly into your drift (down-current), not sideways.  This especially increases the amount of time the lure can be jigged against the bottom in deeper water.  For best line & lure control, lure action, hook-sets and telegraphing bottom structure, always point your rod tip directly at your line, not sideways.  ABSOLUTELY DEADLYThis is one of the deadliest techniques when casting in snag-filled waters, such as rock piles and reefs (not ship wrecks) in water 30 feet or less.  By bottom-bouncing a 1/10 or 1/6 ounce SBF, after the cast, the light weight of the lure easily flutters, darts & swims through the structure with few, if any, snags.  Since your SBF reaches your target before the boat, fish are not easily spooked.  Also, any snagged lure is easily retrieved as your boat drifts over the down-current side of the snag.  Remember use the very smallest SBF that still permits you to make an effective cast then methodically jig it through the structure.  Otherwise, cast in any direction in calm water where current does not adversely affect line angle.  Then, bottom bounce-retrieve until you locate the fish. Note:  Bottom bouncing must be done by vertically lifting then lowering your rod as gravity creates the downward fish-attracting flutter of your lure.  Never jig your rod sideways because it does not lift the lure to position it for its critical downward flutter.  Bottom bouncing is best accomplished by vertical jigging never sideways jigging.  Note:  Since your SBFis loaded with lively sonic and swimming action, finesse jigging is recommended vs hard jerking.  The goal is not to frighten fish with unnatural action but to attract them.  Bottom-bouncing when anchored: Highly effective at anchor in moving fresh and salt water.  Some prime locations include power plant discharges, under bridges, holes below dams, river & ocean pass holes, and moving tides over rough bottom.  This presentation is basically the same technique as the previous "bottom bouncing on the retrieve" technique.  The only difference is that the SBF is moving away from you instead of toward you.  The very best position on your vessel is off the stern.  You will be jigging directly in a straight line, down-current not sideways.  Start by dropping the SBF straight down, next to your engine.  Then keep in contact with the structure by bottom-bouncing the SBF against it.  Retrieve once you no longer can feel bottom.  Light baitcasting tackle works best because a single hand can control the back-bounce best by thumbing the reel's spool.


The quick-change snap/line connection options of the SBF offer the most effectiveness & versatility of any jig or lure type available in sport fishing.  The snap/line connection to the top of the back (blade bait version) results in strong vibration on the lift and fall.  The snap/line connection to the nose or tail version results in a wobble on the lift and flutter on the fall.  The lift attracts but it's the fall that triggers strikes.  Always use a vertical, and not sideways, rod lift when vertical or horizontal jigging.  The vertical rod lift causes the SBF to be positioned for its critical, strike-triggering downward vibration, or flutter, as the rod is dropped back towards the lure.


This is the most precise and thorough of all techniques for suspended and bottom-positioned fish while fishing from a stationary position or on a slow drift.  It is superior to all other techniques in sport fishing because the lure constantly remains in the strike zone.  Only vertical jigging effectively reaches fish in inaccessible locations such as docks, bridge & pier pilings, oil rigs, towers, floating debris, weed or kelp pockets and standing timber.  Suspended fish are located with an electronic fish locator and this is critical for your success!  Constantly monitor your screen to remain over the fish.  Turn off the "fish ID" selection as it confuses schools of baitfish for game fish on some units.  As you lower your SBF you should see the zigzag pattern of the lure as it falls toward the suspended fish marks.  Stop your SBF just above those marks error on the side of being too high, never below the marks as most fish always look up.  This is deadly for suspended fish such as salmon, kokanee, striped bass and cold water largemouth bass.  When jigging to bottom-positioned fish, maintain a bouncing action against the bottom structure.  Feeling bottom not only keeps your lure near the strike zone it also triggers strikes as a result of the lure's sound against bottom and the puffs of debris it kicks up.  At times, holding the lure dead still (dead-sticking) will result in more strikes than when actively jigging.  By just permitting the water current to slowly move and rotate the lure (resembling a dying baitfish), negative fish can be triggered to strike this is especially effective in the blade bait version.  Once your line angles off in the current, speed-retrieve the lure with the line attached to the nose.  At times, this will trigger a strike as the lure passes through a zone of suspended fish.  Vibrating blade bait version:  The simplest way to fish the blade bait version, in open fresh and salt water, is to vertically drop it to your target fish, whether suspended or on the bottom.  For suspended fish, properly interpreting marks on your electronic fish locator is critical for your success.  For bottom fish, simply bottom-bounce the SBF, pause then repeat your vertical jigging.  The vibration on the lift attracts fish but strikes are triggered on the fall (imitates an injured or dying baitfish) or when holding the SBF still.  The SBF is loaded with lively sonic action.  Hard jigging will usually frighten fish and finesse jigging will trigger strikes.  This is very important when jigging during cold fronts and through the ice.  The basic technique during these
conditions is twitching and/or a slow lift and slow drop then hold the SBF still for up to a minute.  Deadly ice jigging technique by pro Mike Hall:  "Always fish with the smallest SBF that effectively reaches your target fish.  I'm ice jigging with a 1/10 ounce SBF in the blade bait version snap/line attached to the insert on
top of the back.  Use both double hooks, one sleeved on the nose and the other on the tail, with the hooks pointing outward.  This snap placement results in a strong vertical vibration both on the lift and fall.  Options:  For different actions on the fall, omit a hook on either end.  This will result in the SBF fluttering and gliding in a more horizontal direction on the end with the hook.  Tip with minnow or Berkley Gulp pieces.  Once the SBF reaches the fish (or slightly above them), just jiggle or wiggle it (or slow lift and slow fall) then hold the rod still for up to 60 seconds.  The horizontal profile of the SBF, at rest or barely moving, is deadly with most fish completely inhaling the lure.  Whether day or night fishing, experiences with yellow perch and crappie raising ten feet off bottom to inspect, then engulfing, a motionless SBF were common.  There were similar experiences with rainbow and lake trout moving as far as 50 feet in clear water to strike a
motionless SBF."

REEL TIPS FOR VERTICAL JIGGING TO SUSPENDED FISH:  Spinning reels: The amount of line, wound on the spool with one complete turn of the handle, usually varies between 24 to 28 inches.  If your reel  line uptake measures 24 inches, and fish are suspended 20 feet below the surface, back-crank 10 full turns to enable the lure to drop to that 20 foot mark where the fish are located.  On the other hand, if the fish are suspended 20 feet off bottom, just reverse this process.  Drop your lure all the way to the bottom then forward-crank your reel 10 full turns.  Levelwind baitcasting reels - One full handle turn of a 6:1 reel is about 26 inches of line wound on the spool.  Check your own reels for the amount of line retrieved on a single full handle rotation.  Also, the levelwind portion can be used as a guide especially on the drop to suspended fish in deep water.  The line that travels from one end of the levelwind to the other end usually varies between 8 to 9 feet on the spool.  The amount of line traveling per crank is more precise than the amount of line traveled per levelwind, but both are very valuable depth guides.  Remember, always present your lure slightly above the suspended fish mark where it's more visible to the fish


Swim-jigging, a SBF on a drift, is extremely effective throughout the water column.  It's especially efficient for fish near the surface in deeper water, and near the bottom in shallower water.  Attach your snap/line to the nose insert with the hook attached to the tail.  If fishing with monofilament (mono) main line, attach a swivel 3-4 feet from the lure to minimize line twist.  Always cast up-wind for fish near the surface.  The faster the drift, the heavier the lure, to prevent it from skipping on the surface.  "Dead-stick" the SBF on fast drifts.  Jigging is usually not necessary when the line is stretched and near surface.  The faster the speed of your drift, the livelier the darting~fluttering~swimming action of the SBF.  On slower drifts, cast the smallest SBF up-wind to keep it near the surface.   Jigging (jig-swimming) the SBF may be necessary to increase its fluttering action and to compensate for the slower drift.  For fish near the bottom in shallower water:  Cast down-wind with a SBF, just heavy enough, to keep it bouncing along bottom.  Jig, using vertical lifts of the rod to maximize the lure's flutter.  In an ideal drift, retrieving is not necessary until a fish is hooked.  Vary your jigging action until the fish react to what they want.


A lure that is effective when swim-jigging is even more effective when trolled.  Troll the SBF wherever you would use conventional trolling spoons.  Unlike spoons, which troll in a fairly tight pattern, the SBF has a more frantic sideways darting~fluttering~swimming action, especially on turns.  This erratic, and variable action, results in increased strikes.  Whether slow or speed-trolling, do not run in a straight line.  Strikes dramatically increase by changing the action of your lure through erratic troll patterns or rod pumping.  Examples include speed-trolling in a tight circle around structure holding fish, slow rod pumping on a slow troll or trolling on a zigzag course (besides "popping" [1B], trolling is the only other time the rod is worked sideways and not vertically).  All of these patterns cause the SBF to intermittently fall and flutter as if you were jigging a critical action for triggering strikes.  The same snap/line connections are used, as in swim-jigging, with one exception.  A wide bend snap swivel can be attached directly to the nose of the SBF.  It is very effective in every trolling application.  It can be trolled behind any attractors, off divers or downriggers.  Its most simple application is also its deadliest flat-line trolling.  Flat-line trolling for salt water species, such as barracuda, mackerel and salmon, is highly effective.  Try circular speed-trolling over wrecks for spectacular barracuda and mackerel strikes (deadly technique for fish with forked tails).  Equally effective is slower circular trolling for Pacific salmon off land points and around tide rip edges.  At slower speeds, periodically jig your hand-held rod sideways to cause a backward flutter working your rod can dramatically increase strikes.  This technique is also deadly for fresh water trout during low light periods.  In all conditions, cast your lure sideways, or ahead, when beginning your troll.  This will cause the lure to sink deeper on a swing.  Once line tension is created on the lure, as your vessel moves beyond your cast, the lure's action will change from its downward flutter, to darting forward and upward.  Most strikes occur at this critical change in action.  Trolling in a circular pattern almost always results in more strikes on the rod positioned on the inside of the turn.  The inside lure slows, then flutters downward, while the outside lure conversely speeds-up.  Hook upgrade:  When trolling, especially speed-trolling, increasing hook size by up to two sizes will not adversely affect the lure's action and will increase hook-ups.  Caution:  Properly flat line-trolled SBF will cause your rod tip to constantly pulsate.  It's normal for this rhythm to be interrupted during inside turns when line tension is momentarily reduced.  However, any other change would be caused by debris fouling your lure fouled lures catch no fish.

Your success is very important to us at Mack's Lure.  We sincerely hope our tips and techniques go a long way in creating special memories for you and your family.  Understanding the mechanics of the Sonic BaitFish (SBF), water conditions, and fish behavior will result in your greater success and enjoyment on the water.

Because of pollution, and habitat destruction, our fish resources are fragile and need your help.  Please practice catch & release with barbless hooks (crimp barbs) and remove the hook with a dehooker while the fish remains in the water.  Avoid handling fish with dry hands, towels and coarse landing nets.  They damage the skin's protective mucous layer that eventually leads to infection and subsequent death.  Thank you for your stewardship and for your confidence in fishing the Sonic BaitFish.