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Tattoo's Freshwater Debut

By Russ Bassdozer

Mike Dauphin of Tattoo's Tackle has released a new product for freshwater bass. Tattoo's new Surface Swimmer causes an action swimming across the surface unlike anything freshwater bass have seen before. It establishes an entire new bass lure category called "surface swimmers."

Tattoo's Tackle is located in Rhode Island, where the company designs and manufactures these Surface Swimmers. Famous for crafting wooden surf fishing plugs, this is the company's first parlay into freshwater lures.

You can see some of Tattoo's legendary saltwater masterpieces at

"We at Tattoo’s Tackle have been working closely with Russ “Bassdozer” Comeau on introducing this new lure for the freshwater market," says Mike Dauphin.

Now, surface swimmers (as a lure type) have been around saltwater since 1944 which was when Bob Pond of Attleboro, Massachusetts created the first. Bob Pond dubbed his Atom Forty (40) Surface Swimmer the "Forty" because Pond built it for massive striped bass of forty inches or longer that were marauding on the surface in Cape Cod Canal. Interestingly, Cape Cod Canal anglers of that era held a notion that striped bass couldn't be caught on lures, only live or dead bait. Pond's wood creation went on to become perhaps the most famous saltwater striped bass lure of all time.

So surface swimmers have been used in saltwater for over sixty years. Yet, they are virtually unknown in fresh. It's a bridge many great lures never get to cross, until now.

First of its kind for freshwater bass, Tattoo's Surface Swimmer is not nearly as big as the original, the Atom 40. Tattoo's Surface Swimmer weighs 5/8 ounce, is made of wood, and measures 4-1/2 inches long. It's through-wired from nose to tail with stout stainless wire, and the belly treble hangs off a heavy duty (220 lb. test) swivel. The line tie eye and metal lip are both adjustable, enabling an angler to create an infinite variety of surface swimming actions ranging from a tight, fast wriggle to a slow, sweeping, last gasp kind of death roll across the surface. The action has never been seen before in a freshwater bass lure.

The best way to describe the action of a surface swimmer is to visualize a "walking bait" action. For example, think of a Heddon Super Spook or Lucky Craft Sammy zigzag action, yet softer or smoother. The surface swimmer is still an aggressive, exciting non-stop action, except not as splashy, albeit every bit as deadly. Tattoo's Surface Swimmer rolls and roils the surface as opposed to frantic splashing.

There are three big differences between "walking baits" versus Tattoo's Surface Swimmer:

  1. First, no rod action is required to make the surface swimmer zig and zag. Just steady reeling is all that's required to create the side to side walking movements.

  2. Second, whereas other walking baits usually lose some of their effectiveness under bright sun on calm surfaces, Tattoo's Surface Swimmer keeps on producing even under bright skies, clear water and calm conditions.

  3. Both the line tie and lip are adjustable to produce a variety of movements and actions. No other freshwater lure allows such intense fine-tuning of the lure's action.

Tattoo's Surface Swimmer certainly does fill a niche that's sorely missing in the topwater lure market for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. It's swell for musky, pike and freshwater stripers too.

Tattoo's kicks off a brand new freshwater lure type - the surface swimmer.
Colors shown: Blue Herring (top). Ayu (center). Chartreuse Shad (bottom).

The lip and line tie eye are adjustable to fine tune a variety of lure actions.
Colors shown: Ayu (left). Chartreuse Shad (right).

Let freshwater fish do a Tattoo on you! Some of the first few new freshwater colors to be produced by Tattoo's include white pearl, blue herring, chartreuse shad, and an olive green/gold ayu color. "We looked at some of the best freshwater paint patterns today, and particularly felt two paint patterns from Japan - first, chartreuse shad, and second, green ayu were highly effective."

Whereas many other US companies have simply tried to copy these Japanese paint patterns verbatim, Tattoo's Tackle has improved upon them. Using the Chartreuse Shad color as an example, "There aren't all that many freshwater prey species that have sharply defined colors," says Mike Dauphin. "So I went very soft on the lateral line, making it more of a muted yellow than a bold chartreuse, and I went very soft on the black operculum (gill flap) spot behind the eye. It's more of a shadow than a spot. I overlaid a pearl sheen on top of the whole paint so the colors are very soft and flow together. Adding the pearl covering adds a lot of sparkling diffusion of colors, and homogenizes the underlying colors into a blended whole. It's plain to see that it is an original work of art as opposed to a copy cat color," says Mike. As Tattoo's develops new freshwater colors, Tattoo's unique style of blending lure colors will be a basis of other new freshwater colors to come.

"These lures are fine works of art. They're exciting and productive to use. Let freshwater fish do a Tattoo on you," says Russ Bassdozer.

Tattoo's new Surface Swimmers are available now in Bassdozer's Store at

Click here to Buy Tattoo's Surface Swimmers. Thank you.

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