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Shimano Bantam ArmaJoint

Swimbaits have become extremely popular over the past six years, and with good reason – they catch a variety of big fish on a regular basis thanks to their lifelike action and size, which produces excellent reactions from predatory fish. They’re fun to use and they’re effective.  One of Shimano’s latest swimbaits is the ArmaJoint190SF, a unique design that has consistently produced big fish for me at both extremes of the country over the past six months targeting big dusky flathead in the south and barra up north.

Aesthetics & Features

The ArmaJoint has several features that set it apart from others on the market, starting with the Flash Boost system in the body, which is a small reflective plate that wobbles and shimmers, effectively reflecting light even when the lure has stopped moving. It’s a 190mm swimbait that runs under the surface and rises slowly when paused. It comes in five great colours that are well suited to Australian species and three of those colours feature Shimano’s Scale Boost finish, a lifelike scale pattern that reflects light and imitates an injured fish with damaged scales. The two colours I’ve had the most success with for flathead and barra were N Hasu, which is a great tailor/tarpon/mullet imitation and features the Scale Boost feature; the other was Chartwhite, a classic chartreuse finish that flathead, barra and cod love. It’s a great visible colour that allows the angler to see it from a distance to get a good indication of how the lure responds to rod and reel movement.  The ArmaJoint comes fitted with trebles that are perfect when chasing big flathead. I have caught quite a few now in the 80-90cm range without any hook or split ring failure, but with barra and other larger species you’ll need to retrofit it with heavier split rings and trebles. Importantly, this didn’t have a negative impact on the action but did make the buoyancy neutral or slow-sink rather than slow-floating, which is beneficial when targeting barra. Other key features are the hook holders on the belly of the lure, and it’s important to clip the eye of the trebles into these as it stops hooks from fouling and gives the lure a better swimming action. It comes fitted with a soft tail and has a spare in the packet if one is chewed up or lost.’

Casting

The key feature of the ArmaJoint and what sets it apart from other swimbaits on the market is what Shimano calls ArmaBoost, which is designed to greatly improve casting distance and accuracy. Most swimbaits don’t cast well due to their jointed design, but the ArmaBoost feature allows the lure to fold on the cast, preventing it from spinning in the air and giving you much greater casting distance. While it may sound like a gimmick, in the field it does cast better than a standard swimbait of the same size and weight. When targeting barra, the increased accuracy is helpful when trying to place the lure right on a snag; when targeting flathead on an expansive flat, the extra distance means the lure is spending more time in the water, covering more ground, and therefore increasing your chances of catching fish. It’s been a real game-changer on the flathead with the extra distance getting me a lot of bites in the first few metres of the retrieve as you haven’t spooked the fish with the boat.

Retrieving

The three-segment body swims perfectly at slow speed with a wide swaying action, but with a few faster cranks of the handle it digs in to get a tighter wriggle. One of the key features that really sets this lure apart is its ability to swim in, across and down-current without blowing out, and it’s proven itself in the Top End rivers on big barramundi, and in estuaries or rivers where there is current flow. With the barramundi I’ve found just slow rolling it 2-3m with a short pause has been deadly, while on the flathead shorter movements have worked – 2-3 turns of the reel followed by a pause, which sees the lure stall and the head of the lure swing left or right.

On The Water

I can honestly say the ArmaJoint is my favourite swimbait as it just catches big fish time and again, and has proven itself on big barramundi over multiple trips in the past 18 months, and when I see a big sandflat I find it hard not to put one on as it gets smashed by big flathead.

I don’t tend to use rod tip movements to impart action on the ArmaJoint, preferring to get the different swimming actions that are imparted through turns and speeds of the reel. A faster turn will get it moving with a tighter wriggle, while a slow turn gives it a wide swaying swim that kicks a lot of light off the lure.

One tip that has worked well for me when fishing sand flats and weed patches has been to use the brighter colours, as you can clearly see where the lure is and it can then be cranked over dead ground and paused when you hit the edge of a likely looking sand hole or similar. From there it’s a simple matter for a single turn or two and a pause and you will get crunched.

In Closing

This lure is a must-have in your kit – it’s produced great results for me on big flathead in the south, and saltwater barramundi up north.

The ArmaJoint has proven itself on cod and mulloway for other anglers and I can’t wait to use it on these species in coming months. I’m even thinking it’s got applications for those who want to chase a truly giant trout during the pre-spawn.

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