Hammering Home a Point

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If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be spending sixteen bucks on a chatterbait, I’d have called you crazy. Not that we haven’t seen those milestones before and run right over them with a dump truck. First there was the $9.99 Terminator Spinnerbait, then the $15 Lucky Craft Pointer, then the $22 Vision 110, and of course the double digit 2 ounce worm weight. They all seemed ridiculous at first, but in hindsight they seem perfectly justified, even reasonable. After all, those jerkbaits were clearly better tools in many situations than their predecessors, and if we were still flipping mats with big lead we’d spend much of the time frustrated.

Those “better mousetraps” present an easy case study – it’s possible to see and feel the difference in your hand and in the water.

I own two Evergreen Jack Hammers, but unlike many of you I’ve yet to throw them. This one is going to take some convincing, I’m sure. So far I’m merely going on the word and wallets of my many more accomplished angler friends who’ve shelled out the big bucks on their own and claim that it’s been money well spent. Let me put it this way – a lot of them are guys who expect to get stuff for free, and in this case it doesn’t matter to them.

Based on their unvarnished recommendations, I already have a lot of confidence in the Jack Hammers straight out of the package, but how will I know if they’re really a more effective tool? We’re in prime time for bladed jigs around here and I intend to chuck the hell out of them this weekend, with a heavy emphasis on the Hammer, but unless I have someone next to me throwing something different, it will be a largely unscientific test. Last week a friend won a tournament on the Chickahominy River on a bladed jig, and while he caught some fish on the Jack Hammer, he caught bigger fish on a mom & pop model. Then again, they were different colors, so that’s hardly a scientific test, either.

So much of what we do on the water is untestable or unverifiable. We think that we’ve unlocked some sort of secret when in reality we’re sifting through evidence that’s impure at best. Just because you caught that 8-pounder on your new $400 flipping stick doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have done the same with your older $99 model. You believe that fluorocarbon’s invisibility gets you more bites, but you can never be sure you wouldn’t have gotten just as many – if not more – with that bargain rack mono you used to rely upon.

I suppose that all you can do is keep chunking and winding in the right places, using what you believe to be the best tools available to you. I don’t have any quantifiable way of knowing that the Jack Hammer is indeed at the head of its class, but I have enough reliable voices yelling in my ear that if it’s not the valedictorian, it’s pretty close.