By BassFan Staff

This year’s ICAST show in Orlando marked a step in a new direction for tackle giant Berkley, which introduced its entry into the hook market and its long-awaited hardbait collection for bass-aholics.

For several years, Berkley has had a modest lineup of hardbaits, but the Flicker Shad series of crankbaits have been mostly targeted at walleye anglers. To catch bass anglers’ attention, they turned to crankbait guru David Fritts, who for the past 3 years has worked with Berkley engineers on creating shapes, actions and colors that had to pass his stringent eye and muster test on the water.

The end result is a lineup of six new designs that offer anglers the ability to target fish throughout the water column.

In the Fusion19 Hooks, Berkley has created a new family of fish-catchers that incorporates a little bit of space-age science along with old-fashioned sharpness.

Below is additional information about Berkley’s new products:

Fusion19 Hooks

Can a fish hook be too sharp?

Bass anglers understand the importance of sharp hooks, though most don’t practice their hook-sharpening skills often enough. The new Berkley Fusion19 hooks give novice and avid anglers the sharpest hooks that stay sharper longer than any other on the market.

The hooks are designed to withstand being fished in the toughest, thickest cover without damaging the structural integrity of the point. The hooks were infused with a technologically-advanced polymer coating called Slickset that allows the hook points to easily penetrate with less force to catch more fish, and conserve energy during long days on the water. Each hook has a smoke satin finish and are incredibly smooth to the touch.

There are nine bass-specific designs in the Fusion19 family: extra-wide gap (EWG), superline EWG, weedless EWG, weighted EWG, offset worm, dropshot, heavy cover, swimbait and weighted swimbait hooks.

Each package of Fusion19 hooks features an innovative, resealable clam for easier storage, and Berkley’s packaging includes tips to help novice and advanced anglers to identify the hook (and soft baits) to best suit their need.

Fusion19 hooks will carry retail prices ranging from $3.99 to $5.99, in counts from four to eight hooks per package.

Berkley Hardbaits

Bad Shad
It didn’t take long for Fritts to put his fingerprints on the new family of hardbaits.

With the floating Bad Shad, available in two sizes, anglers can cover depths down to 9 feet. The size 5 version is 2 inches long and weighs 1/4-ounce – it’ll come with No. 7 Fusion19 treble hooks – while the size 7 model is 2 3/4 inches and weighs 1/3-ounce when equipped with No. 6 Fusion19 trebles.

With a gentle taper through the mid-section down to the tail, the Bad Shad is aggressive when diving and rises slightly at every pause. When retrieved, it throws off a side roll and tail wag. The high-definition eyes of the Bad Shad penetrate through turbid waters while the flash and paint schemes mimic natural forage.

Fritts and Elite Series angler Justin Lucas teamed up on the design of the new Cutter to give anglers a reason to believe in a jerkbait once again.

Photo: BassFan

Crankbait guru David Fritts played an instrumental role in the development of Berkley's series of new hardbaits.

Berkley’s Cutter jerkbaits possess qualities that pros rely on when fishing in colder waters. The long, narrow body allows this jerkbait to be thrown easily with no line snags on the hooks.

With the coffin-shaped bill, the Cutter 90+, Cutter 110+ and Skinny Cutter 110+ have maximum darting action and side flash, essential when fish are lethargic and unwilling to bite.

As the rod tip is lightly twitched, the Cutter slices through the water column in a downward, erratic movement. The Cutter 90+ (3 1/2 inches) and Cutter 110+ (4 3/8 inches) are ideal when water temps are creeping up and fish are looking for an easy meal. The Skinny Cutter 110+ (4 3/8 inches) has a narrower body and more pronounced bill, which is ideal for extreme cold-water situations.

The Cutter family of jerkbaits will be available in 12 custom color schemes, each selected by pro staff to offer buyers the best options.

The Digger 6.5 and Digger 8.5 crankbaits are also new for 2016 and were another Fritts creation. The Digger has an aggressive wobble with maximum side flash and doesn’t waste any time getting deep.

The teardrop-shaped bill on the 2-inch Digger 6.5 and 2.5-inch Digger 8.5 allows the bait to dive quickly, reaching down to 9 feet.

Intermittent pauses throughout the retrieve will cause the Digger to rise slowly. This subtle rise is unlike any other crankbait on the market. The Digger also features 3D eyes and gill slits to add lifelike features to the bait.

The Digger is ideal for adjusting retrieval speed to target bass that aren’t willing to eat but just might be enticed by this bait’s unique action.

The Pitbull 5.5 is specifically designed for anglers who like to fish shorelines. With an erratic, hunting action, the Pitbull was designed with the aid of Elite Series angler Gary Klein.

When using this 2 3/8-inch bait, search through a stump field or shoreline rocks and stick-ups to produce a winning bag or just have a great day on the water. The wobble of the Pitbull creates maximum flash and deflects off structure with ease.

Designed to fish in depths from 1 to 5 feet, the Pitbull is available in 12 pro-selected colors, designed for use on a wide variety of conditions.

It can be difficult to find baits that are as adept at ripping through grass as they are at targeting suspended and schooling fish, but the new Berkley Warpig is ready to help every angler catch more fish.

The versatility of the Warpig is unmatched. Fritts has experienced great success ripping or simply casting and retrieving this bait. A steady retrieve capitalizes on the bait’s natural erratic behavior. For a different presentation retrieve, pause and repeat.

Available in quarter-ounce and half-ounce models, the Warpig easily rips through grass with its blunt-nose design. The Warpig is also valuable when used adjacent to or on top of weed beds, the home of fish looking for an easy meal. The bait is also a great search bait, letting the angler work a lot of shoreline quickly. This lipless crank has a rapid roll and tail wag for maximum sound and vibration no matter the retrieval speed.

Wild Thang
The 2 1/4-inch Wild Thang 8.5 has a unique bill design that allows the bait to search wildly throughout the water column with side-to-side action and rattle. The aggressive tail thump and enhanced side flash draws fish from all depths and directions.

The Wild Thang excels in all types of water clarity, but is most at home in areas of rocky flats, points and banks and is the key when fish are looking for a chase.