116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Anglers have long wondered: Is this spot devoid of fish, or are they there and I simply do not know how to catch them?
For anglers with the money to buy them and the savvy to operate them, high-end sonar units can reveal whether they are fishing in productive water.
For folks like me, with neither money nor savvy, we need a foolproof fish detector, and I finally have one in the Keitech Easy Shiner Minnow.
Based on extensive results this year and last, I feel after two fishless casts into a spot, I can safely conclude there are no fish there. The Keitech Easy Shiner looks and acts more like a minnow than a minnow, and fish can’t not bite it.
Paddle tail soft plastic minnows, which simulate a swimming bait fish, have been an angler staple since the early 1980s, when Mister Twister lure company introduced the Sassy Shad. Today almost all tackle companies offer one or more versions, and they all catch fish.
Like Keitech minnows, many of them boast realistic shapes, colors and fish-attracting scents. What elevates the Easy Shiner, in my opinion, is its movement. Keitech’s clever designers reverse-engineered a real minnow and duplicated its swimming action, even at the slowest retrieve speeds.
The Easy Shiner excels as a trailer on swim jigs, spinner baits and buzz baits, and company literature asserts it’s deadly on both drop shot and umbrella rigs, methods I have not tried. I fish it almost exclusively on light, round-head tungsten jigs — a technique that showcases its uncanny resemblance to a vulnerable, slow-moving minnow.
I could not pick one out of a lineup with four live fatheads or emerald shiners. Neither, I think, can a bass, walleye or northern pike, whose helplessness in the presence of the Easy Shiner, my go-to bait all year, has been repeatedly demonstrated.
The Easy Shiner shone especially bright on a recent Wapsipinicon outing with my fly-fishing friend Mike Jacobs of Monticello, during which I caught 59 bass, four walleyes and two northerns. Mike, an expert fly tyer, was sufficiently impressed to undertake the design of a fly that would incorporate the plastic minnow’s seductive tail movement.
But maybe any other lure would have done as well on a day when the fish were feeding aggressively, as evidenced by the many bass and the 31-inch northern Mike caught during the outing.
I had a chance to test that theory a few days later when I discovered a concentration of smallmouth bass in a spot that did not look the least bit fishy. Several times a day for several days I visited the spot, sampling their reaction to all my favorite plastics lures — most notably twister tail grubs, ring worms and other brands of paddle tail minnows. The Easy Shiner outfished all its competitors and did so most persuasively when bass that had ignored repeated retrieves of other lures emphatically struck the Easy Shiner.
So what’s the catch? Reviews on several tackle company websites have described the Keitech Easy Shiner minnow as highly effective but lacking durability.
That is a fair assessment. On that recent outing with Mike, I started with three 10-packs of the 3-inch model and ended with none. The soft plastic essential to the lure’s realistic movement tears easily to the point where it will no longer stay on the jig.
Maybe the Easy Shiner’s lack of durability is intentional — a means to ensure anglers buy more of their product. If that’s true, which I doubt, I don’t care. I’m here to catch fish, not to conserve tackle.