Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

The Fiiish Crazy Sandeel - further thoughts/review after a lot more water time with the lure

Firstly, I wanted to say a massive thanks to so many of you here for your kind comments, emails, phone calls, Facebook comments/messages etc. I believe in being open about things and as per my blog post from Wednesday, I felt that getting my skin cancer thing out there was the best way forward. It doesn’t need to be a secret, it’s not my fault that I’ve got it, and a number of people kindly said thanks to me for blogging on the subject. Cancer is a bastard and I am going to do all I can to beat it - thank you all so much. I cannot tell you how much better I feel for kinda making it official if you like. Anyway, enough of that and on to some fishing stuff………

I was walking Storm in the woods yesterday morning and I got to thinking about the Fiiish Crazy Sandeel and what my thoughts on it were after fishing with it for a decent amount of time now. A post about the lure from earlier in the year got a lot of traffic (check here), and this really struck a chord with me that there is so little information on how to “properly” fish this lure. Have a read of that post if you want to know more about how you can fish the Crazy Sandeel from the shore especially, bearing in mind of course that there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. Please also know that I do some work with Fiiish, and part of the reason I so like doing stuff with them is that they are so very French (that is very much a compliment by the way), and believe me when I say that they would consider it bad manners if I did nothing more than simply try and promote their products - they categorically do not pay me to do that anyway. I can tell you with complete honesty that when I sometimes rave about their lures, it’s because they often work well for me - plain and simple really, albeit conspiracy theories will continue to fly around just as surely as night follows day.

So what about the Crazy Sandeel then? Masses of lure anglers know all about the pretty easy to use Fiiish Black Minnow, but without a doubt their Crazy Sandeel hit the market with a general lack of information on how to fish it, and I think that this in turn caused a lot of anglers to try it out by fishing it like a Black Minnow and then dismissing Le Crazy because it wasn’t working - exactly like me if that’s any help, and it wasn’t really until I got to chase those bluefin tuna in Italy with Matt the lure’s designer that things started to click with me on the Crazy Sandeel front. Some photos from that trip are below.

On the one hand I think it’s an awesome lure, albeit I have not landed any particularly large bass on it yet, and on the other hand I have tended to find that Le Crazy is a lure that doesn’t seem to work that well over certain types of terrain and/or depths. Not all lures are going to work on certain types of marks, but again I think that the lack of information that is out there about how and where to fish the Crazy Sandeel harms its cause so to speak. The Black Minnow in its various guises is a more versatile lure (as indeed it’s meant to be), but then I have found on various occasions this year that the Crazy Sandeel ripped nice and fast went and produced some bass for me when nothing else did. Right place, right time, right lure?

A few suggestions on how to shore fish with the Fiiish Crazy sandeel soft plastic lure. Warning - very basic video of dubious quality!!

It really interests me that some Irish friends of mine don’t get on with the Crazy Sandeel around the Copper Coast area especially, and whilst there is an element of mistrust towards the lure and therefore it’s not been given a lot of water time that I am aware of, if there is one thing that has really struck home to me this year is that Le Crazy does not seem to work well over really shallow ground. Why? (and bear in mind that this could just be me). Well my reasoning is this - whilst you need to rip the Crazy Sandeel pretty fast to get that body undulating, I can’t actually remember a fish that didn’t then hit the lure on the drop, as in you’ve ripped it as far as the sweep of your rod can go - “Setting the lure” if you like - then when you’ve stopped ripping it the lure of course will drop back down as you then wind in to make contact before ripping it back again - and it’s when the lure drops that you seem to get hit. So often the lure simply stops dead for no reason - wind and strike and it’s a fish. Bloody exciting as well.

Now you can of course rip the lure over really shallow ground and get away with it, but because the ground is so shallow you have no choice other than to wind like the clappers to get back to contact with the lure - and it’s my belief that the Crazy Sandeel is not then getting enough “meaningful time” to properly fish on the drop. It’s not so bad fishing over shallowish sandy ground though, because you can get away with the lure hitting the bottom and not snagging that exposed hook up all the time, indeed a friend of mine has done well with Le Crazy fishing it in this manner. As for really rocky, reefy shallow ground? I can’t get the lure to work for me, but then to be fair it wasn’t designed to fish like that. And yes, the Crazy Sandeel is not weedless for a reason.

Go bass fishing over slightly deeper water and it’s a different story. Now it seems that you can get the lure to fish properly. By no means is the Crazy Sandeel some kind of wonder lure that will produce no matter what, but it is without doubt another string to my bow that I don’t like going fishing without - save for really rough shallow ground marks of course. A mate who I fish with a lot lost the biggest bass he has ever seen almost at his feet back in May - he just couldn’t get close enough to grab the fish on his own with the sea state - and that was via ripping the Crazy Sandeel over what I would term a medium depth of water and mainly sandy bottom with various lumps of rock spread about the place.

And as for pollack fishing? Holy cow it’s ridiculous. Pollack just love the lure, indeed watching one of our clients catch so many of them it was almost a joke on the pink 150mm Crazy Sandeel over in Ireland in August (boat fishing in Ballinskelligs Bay) was something else, and I managed to convince our Crazy Sandeel doubting Dutchman to clip one on from the Kerry rocks in October - “get ready for them to hit you on the drop Joran” was along the lines of what I said, and lo and behold a couple of pollack did just that when things had gone quiet on the last of the ebb. Doubting Dutchman no more!!

How about the quality of the lure itself? Well there is of course the argument that the lure body on Le Crazy could be made from a tougher soft plastic, but Matt was insistent with me that he just could not get the right action via the harder/tougher stuff - so sure, the lure can and does tear on fish, but carry a bottle of Mend-It and you’ll get longer out of a body. If this does you in then use a different lure, but the fact is that Fiiish are getting the action they want from their lures so far by using very specific, softer plastics, and whilst there’s no denying that their lures work, I quite understand anglers wanting their lures to last for ever. But they don’t, so it’s a choice we make. If lures catch me fish, I’m going to use them. Think of the price for a dozen peeler crabs for example.

Whilst I haven’t been using a rattle in the Crazy Sandeel, I like the fact that there is a chamber built in if you want to insert one, and although it’s easy to get a rattle into the Black Minnow, I sure would love to see a similar chamber in that lure as well. The ways in which I tend to fish the Black Minnow I think lends itself more to putting a rattle in that particular lure, albeit I am still unsure whether a rattle does indeed help or not. Have any of you had a noticeable rise in catches after putting a rattle into either lures? And have any of you noticed what I have heard a few times this year, that pollack are meant to shy away from a rattly lure? I can’t say either way because I don’t use rattles in my lures when pollack fishing as I can’t see the point, but I am open to suggestions here.

Decent striped bass taken on a regular Fiiish jig head with no issues at all.

Decent striped bass taken on a regular Fiiish jig head with no issues at all.

What about the jig heads designed for Le Crazy? No problems for me, although if you are targeting properly big and/or tough fish abroad then you will be looking for a stronger workaround. For the sort of fish we might encounter in our waters the hooks are more than strong enough, and although I have heard from some people that they think the hooks are perhaps too small in relation to the size of the lure body, and that the hook point needs to be on a longer shank and therefore exit the lure body further back, well I would offer this observation - if you are into catch and release but don’t crush your barbs, I would urge you to crush them when you are fishing with the Crazy Sandeel. Why? Well from my experience it seems that most fish just inhale the lure, to the point that I reckon I’d have been in trouble trying to safely remove a barbed hook from some of the bass that Le Crazy has caught for me this year, plus the pollack that some of our clients caught in Kerry. It amazes me how fish can hit a lure being fished this fast (and it does fall fast when it’s fishing on the drop) and so easily engulf it, but they do, and it’s so much easier to get your forefinger on the bend of the hook and just nudge it out of a fish when it’s deeply hooked if there’s no barn on it.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at with the Crazy Sandeel. I find myself bass fishing mostly with the 150mm in various colours (not sure of my favourite yet), rigged with the 10g and 20g jig heads - and I am pretty sure I end up using the 20g jig head a bit more than the 10g one. Bear in mind that a 150mm/20g Crazy Sandeel combination weighs around 30g. I have an inkling on some new body sizes and jig head weights that are in the works, and let’s just say that one particular combination I think is exactly what I am after. I love the lure and over a fair amount of mainly shore based water time with it this year I think that I have learnt a lot more about when to get it out or keep it in the box. It gives me a lot of confidence,  but I have plenty more to learn about the Crazy Sandeel. You all have a good weekend, and my profound thanks again.