The 22nd Century Bluegill is sort of like a side-project. It’s been around for a long time but it hasn’t gone in to real production mode. If you’re looking for one, try Performance Tackle or Hookeduptackle.com. They get them here and there. Very occasionally you will see one on eBay. There just aren’t that many out there.
This is a composite lure that measures around 5” long and weighs 1.75oz. It sinks slowly (let’s say 1 foot per second), features the swiveling hook hangers, and retails for around $80. Hooks are VMC – either 1/0 or #1 and there are at least two colors (bluegill and perch) though you might see other colors if you look in the right tackle box.
22nd Century baits have fantastic high speed action and the Bluegill is no exception. You can burn this little guy up on the surface and it runs so straight. You can almost hear it screaming – waaaaah as it cooks along just under the surface. The slow swimming action is strong as well and it looks good with a series of erratic jerks and pops. Everything action wise looks great.
You’ll notice that the top and bottom edges of the bait are flat. I like this. Anatomically correct bluegill are very tall from back to belly and that shape can make it hard to hook bass. If you’ve had the opportunity to watch bass eat spiny-finned fish (like bluegill or other bass) you may have noticed that they don’t always swallow the entire fish in the first gulp.
A more common tactic is for the bass to grab the throat of the fish and crush it. Then repeat that process of crushing, swallowing, and spitting the fish back out before going after it head first and swallowing it whole. Cats do the same thing with mice. Great white sharks do it with seals. These predators have instincts that tell them how to handle prey that can spine or bite back. I’m off topic now but the point is that this bluegill hardbait gives you good odds of hooking the bass.
Not only does the bait have a good shape and size – it has two hooks. Rejoice! Two hooks are not twice as good as one hook, they are four times as good, maybe five. I have nightmares about the double digits I lost years ago on the Castaic Bluegill. That was a terrific bluegill imitator but when momma bass came to the surface in late spring with your bluegill in its teeth and a water temp pushing 70 degrees it was a recipe for spit hooks. You’ll have such improved piece of mind with a bluegill like this.
I’ve heard through the rumor-mill that this is a sleeper bait for big smallmouth - which I am told have an innate hatred of bluegill during certain times of year. If you’re around post spawn smallies, give this bait a try and see what happens. With two hooks the odds are good that you’ll even land the fish.
The 22nd Century Bluegill is durable like the Triple Trout. You may get some wear in the finish around the joints, but you should also catch 50 or 100 fish per bait with no issue. I would be a little careful around rocks and docks because this bait does cast well. It might tumble if you snap it out there but on a typical swimbait lob cast you’ll get great distance. 20lb test feels about right line wise.
For your rod, think oversized crankbait and think 7’11 or 8’ length. A 300 size reel is perfect with this bluegill but you could go up or down a size if you like.
The $80 price tag and the fact that these are hard to get are drawbacks. The hooks are also disappointing. Black Owner stingers or bronze Gammie round bends would befit a lure of this quality and price tag. Take the VMC’s off and toss them in the trash as soon as you unwrap this bait from the package. Scott knows that you will do this and that’s half the point of putting the VMC’s on there – to give you the choice of more premium hooks.
Overall this bait lives up to the 22nd Century reputation that has been built through the years with the Triple Trout and the Nezumma rat. It’s a thoroughly functional and fishable bluegill imitator that offers a strong bite-to-land ratio and terrific high speed action. If you can get a hold of one, I highly recommend it.