LiveTarget, with its industry-leading designs and award-winning artificial lures, has added to its growing family with soft-plastic swimbaits that — even in their earliest stages of design — fool the forage fish they resemble so closely.

Apparently, designers got everything right when they came up with the Swimbait Series. The soft plastics are catching on fast since being introduced to the market.

One of the LiveTarget founding partners is Vic Cook, who divides his time between his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and Sarasota, Fla., as well as spending many days at the company’s base in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. He works closely on the development of new artificial lures with Grant Copper and Bradley Van Reenen, plus Hide Iwaski of Osaka, Japan, who joined the company in 2015. The lead Swimbait Series designer is Tobias Wiegand, who emphasized the fact each model is factory-rigged.

“When we designed the Swimbait Series, we wanted to create a set of features that allows anglers to open a swimbait package and have a lure that runs straight and true. Each lure has unique features for hook placement, weighting, action and snag resistance that would be impossible for hand-rigged swimbaits. We knew we could deliver the LiveTarget anatomy and color patterns, but we wanted to make it ‘factory-engineered’ for uniqueness and quality, and do this for each lure size,” Wiegand said.

To a man, Cook, Copper, Van Reenen, Iwaski and Wiegand are ultra-proud of the Swimbait Series.

“This is our start. This is our foray into swimbaits. We intend to expand,” Cook said. “It’s hitting the shelves as we speak.”

Some pro bass fishermen have been depending on them regularly throughout the development, start to finish, including freshwater species modeling threadfin shad (3.5 and 4.5 inches), gizzard shad (4.5, 5 and 5.5 inches), yellow perch (4.5 and 5.5 inches), herring (4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 inches), golden shiner (5.5 and 6.5 inches), trout parr (4 and 5 inches) and adult trout (6.5 and 7.5 inches). Each is available in two colors.

The Swimbait Series saltwater species models include mullet (4.5 and 5.5 inches), pinfish (3.5 and 4 inches) and sardine (3.5 and 4.5 inches), all available in two colors. The latter, by the way, is a killer for snook, according to Cook.

“We’re very dedicated to building lifelike lures, both hard and soft plastics that mimic forage fish in every shape and form,” Cook said. “We match the hatch when targeting a specific gamefish.”

How real does, say, the gizzard shad look? Cook shared an anecdote.

“When we were designing the baits, we had prototypes in clear plastic. Every time we retrieved the baits, fish would come out of nowhere. Baitfish would come up and swim along with it,” he said.

That gamefish are eating it up is a tribute to the entire staff, he said.

“We have a team that does all the product development. We start at the beginning with the development of a new product list. We have what we call an incubator — what will fit in the marketplace. We’re very angler-focused,” he said, noting team members look ahead one, two and, even, three years.

They started on the Swimbait Series project in 2014.

All design work is in-house and done in virtual reality, he said. Prototypes are printed on a 3-D printer.

After prototypes are made, Cook said they are sent to field representatives for testing, and they are tested by the designers themselves.

“We develop products for anglers. We are anglers ourselves,” he said.

Cook echoed Wiegand’s swimbait emphasis by staying a most-important factor is, the lures are “ready to go out of the package. We wanted to make sure the novice angler could use it right out of the box.”

What are the design features? Take a look at the gizzard shad:

• Dorsal fin acts as a shield to protect the hook from hang-ups and collecting grass.

• Extra wide-gap hook has a low-profile position with big hookup power.

• Body profile, combined with the anatomical tail, creates the ideal profile illusion.

• Factory-rigged product makes it convenient to use; better balance without having to re-tune frequently.

• Accessory pin allows anglers to customize with additional hooks and willow-leaf blades.

• Oscillator in the tail generates species specific, lifelike swimming action.

Cook also noted “the suppleness of the material enhances the hookups.”

“The fish don’t bite them. They inhale them. They see these baits as the real thing,” he said, remembering how deep in the gullet some of the prototypes have been lodged.

As supple and pliable as the soft plastic is, it’s also very durable, Cook said. In fact, he said, it is “exceeding our expectations.”

To watch a video of the soft plastic in action, go to www.livetargetlures.com/what-is-livetarget#video. For more information on the Swimbait Series and other LiveTarget products, go to livetargetlures.com or call 888-231-4448.