FLW pro Andre Moore developed a soft plastic around the turn of this decade that he used to win at least two tournaments at Beaver Lake, including the first one with a prototype in April 2002.
Three years later, he used a smaller version of the same soft-plastic creature bait he had designed and improved to win again at Beaver Lake (interestingly enough, both victories were by a 9-ounce margin). He christened the original the Sweet Beaver, a unique soft plastic that has become the centerpiece of Reaction Innovations, his artificial lure manufacturing company, and arguably the hottest soft plastic around.
A Louisiana pro bass fisherman remembers about six years ago how he just had to get his hands on a Sweet Beaver.
"Everybody was catching on a Sweet Beaver. I called and had to have some of them. I know it's been a good six years since I've been involved with Sweet Beavers," said Homer Humphreys of Minden.
Humphreys guides on Red River and Lake Bistineau in Louisiana. The 59-year-old bass fisherman also has made his mark over three decades in Bassmaster Opens.
Humphreys knows about making artificial lures that are successful - i.e., catch fish - as he makes crankbaits and a red-hot 1/4-ounce spinnerbait called Homer's Clown. He started catching bass on a Sweet Beaver right away in the Red River.
To this day, he's so impressed that he says something like it only comes along once in a lifetime. Reaction Innovations had to move to a larger plant and increase production in an effort to keep up with the demand from tournament anglers and weekend anglers alike.
"This Beaver, boys started flipping it and, I mean, they're catching on it all over the world," Humphreys said. "It worked, and it still works. They're used by a ton of the pros out there on the tournament trail. (But) they've got contracts (with other artificial lure manufacturers), so they can't say anything."
So what is this creature bait that Nationwide Tackle calls a phenomenon? The Sweet Beaver has an oblong-shaped ribbed fairly flat body about 2 inches long with depressions on both sides to conveniently bury a Texas-rigged hook. Above and on each side of a flat 2-inch-long tail are two small appendages.
Humphreys loves to flip and pitch. If you aren't doing that in Louisiana, you aren't fishing, he said.
He favors the Sweet Beaver because the presentation is flawless for a creature bait, one that some liken to a form of tube jig. A Kentucky bass angler said it fishes like a tube because it falls with a similar gliding action but imitates a crawfish or, even, a baitfish.
"There's no way, no matter if it's upside down, sideways, that it can mess up. It's a 100-percent perfect pitching and flipping bait. It comes out correct every time. That's my experience guiding and on the tournament trail," Humphreys said.
He notes that other soft plastics - creature baits and tubes - can get fouled easily with a piece of grass, or hitting a branch the wrong way, thus messing up the presentation.
"That's what makes this so good. It's a 100-percent presentation bait. The only was it's no so good is if you miss your target," he said.
He and others also put it on the back of jigs for a jig-n-pig look, he said, and it works ultra-efficiently.
Humphreys said many bass anglers break the tail - it's pretty easy to split because there's only two tiny pieces holding the middle together - but he isn't one of them.
"You'll never find one of the tails broken on mine because it has a different action," he said.
Humphreys is even more excited about the Reaction Innovations' BMF hook that seems to have been built for the Sweet Beaver, which is made in Alabaster, Ala. He likes it because he uses braided line, which sometimes slips through the small opening in the eye of some hooks.
"It works super good. The BMF hook eye is welded together. You never have to worry about Super Gluing line to the eye of the hook," he said, noting he uses a 3/0 BMF hook on the 3.5-inch model and a 4/0 BMF hook on the Sweet Beaver.
Plus, he said, the BMF hook has "what they call a hook barb" that forms a collar just under the eye that helps snug the Sweet Beaver.
"It makes for awesome hook penetration. All you do is just pull back, and it buries the hook to the bone," he said.
A Reaction Innovation spokesman said the creature bait can be fished in Carolina-rigged fashion, too. It is tough and compact, and provides an appealing profile underwater, he said.
For more information on the Sweet Beaver, it's little brother Smallie Beaver, and other Reaction Innovation products, call (205) 620-2034.