“There’s a big difference between grabbing a lure on the shelf and looking at it in the water because they look different on the shelf than they do in the water,” said Frank Scalish, creator of the FX Series of Rattlin’ Rogue colors. “You’ll see some baitfish patterns – solid shad representations – and you look at them in the package and you go, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s a shad.’ And you put it in the water and basically it looks white and black.”
Scalish, the popular host of Day 4 with Franks Scalish on Bass Talk Live and a former Elite Series pro, has been working on these colors for more than two years, figuring out the paints and techniques needed to achieve the goal of baitfish imitations that look realistic underwater, like a bass sees a bait. Really, it goes much farther back, though. A lifelong avid angler and an artist who has been painting lures for decades, Scalish continually studies what he sees and is always looking for ways to match reality.
“Believe it or not, a lot of a lot of my translucent color ideas came from fly fishing because in the saltwater, when the baitfish swim by you, they look different. And then when you net them and take them out of the water, they look 100 percent different than they do in the water.”
Those observations, many years ago, started the thought process and the physical process of years of observation of baitfish, experimentation and testing painted prototypes by watching them in the water under various conditions.
FX Series Colors
Scalish’s FX Series colors, just released in the Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue and available in limited quantities, have common qualities that make the realistic in the water.
“The only way we can make them look like they do in the water is to make them how they are,” Scalish said. “In the water, this is gonna look real, and that’s the whole idea behind this FX Series.”
Central to creating these colors is the layering of different translucent pearls to create the flash and shimmer of real baitfish, and the select addition of semi-translucent colors to match the appearance of baitfish in different light conditions.
“Another key feature of baitfish is they have a solid stomach area, mostly where their entrails are. It’s solid, and the rest of the baitfish is really kind of semi translucent,” Scalish said. “The solid pearl stomach featured on all the FX Series does exactly that. It looks just like that, and really it’s kind of a target for bass, especially on these suspending baits.”
Scalish stressed, though, that the layering of different translucent pearls is the real key to the FX Series.
“They reflect light differently in different water colors or different water conditions, and that’s exactly what a real baitfish does,” he said.
Each Color Purposeful
“This cream color features a bright pearled ivory bone back and belly.
And on the sides, I lay down platinum pearl and then a subtle violet pearl over that,” Scalish explains. “In clear water this bait is softly vibrant, but in off-colored water, this thing glows like a lightbulb.”
“So, the only difference between Violet Cream and Violet Chartreuse is the pearled chartreuse belly. The reason I did that is because sometimes with your spotted bass and your smallmouth, this is a major strike factor for them, especially where I live,” said Scalish, who lives in Ohio. “If there’s a flash of chartreuse on the belly, the smallmouth gobble them up.”
“This is as realistic as it gets from a visual standpoint. Looking at it in the box, you’re gonna go, Yeah, that’s a shad.” Scalish said. The realism doesn’t stop there, though. “The back is a combination of blue and violet. How the bait moves is dependent on what color reflections you see, which is exactly like real shad do in the water. The sides I dusted with light silver and platinum, so this will reflect many different light colors, and of course the belly is solid pearl white with a very light pink pearl chin. Your shad, in cold water, have a tendency to pull pinks and reds in their system.”
“Although it’ll catch all species of bass, this was really specifically designed for smallmouth,” Scalish said. “The light olive back rolls into a seductive purple side. I laid silver and platinum pearl underneath this bait, so everything else was painted over the top of it.
So, this will reflect hints of silver and gold through the purple and obviously in the transparent section of the bait it’ll give you baitfish flashes in the transparent section. The belly is chartreuse, but it’s pearled chartreuse, so it’s more subdued. The way this color reflects the light in clear water – this is really, really appealing to the smallmouth’s aggressive nature.”
“With the FX Oil Green, I got the silver scales on the back lightly dusted on. It’s lightly dusted, purple pearl over the scale pattern, but the sides are dusted with platinum and green pearl,” Scalish said.
“So what happens with that is those pearls being underneath this will reflect predominantly green, but it will throw off hints of purples and hints of yellow, and it’s semi-transparent with the solid white pearl belly.”
“Now the cool thing about the FX Oil Blue is, I have a candy blue pearl, but I also put violet pearl or purple pearl over the back of this thing, so it reflects a couple of different colors. The sides are platinum pearl with blue pearl under the oil blue pearl pattern. This really pulls out the blue oil slick, so this will reflect purple, green and yellow in the oil,” Scalish said. “It’s a really good characteristic of a true baitfish. It’s semi translucent, and again we feature that solid pearl white belly, and this one has that light pink Pearl chin on it. I really like to throw this color on the bright, sunny days.”
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