One of the most popular set of fishing YouTube channels is a group of men in their late 20s early 30s called the “Googan Squad.” They’re pretty distasteful to me to be honest, half because of their politics (there’s a mix but they lean toward the gun-toting, casual bigotry/misogyny types), and half because I’ve heard they have questionable business practices, like ripping off other companies’ innovations and treating business partners poorly. Because “Googan Baits” mostly copy existing products, I got the idea of building a comparison table to understand whether their products are actually a good deal. In doing so I actually developed a better understanding of premiums you pay for brand name plastics in general, not specifically for the Googan brand.

Here’s a little table I whipped up with most of their product catalog (hard + soft baits). For some of the soft plastics with multiple sizes, I just picked the most common size (e.g 5” senko). Hard plastics have a lot of parameters, so finding exact matches with the same combination of weight, dive depth, rattle, etc is difficult. Instead, I opted to compare a handful that have very similar popular competitors. Prices are mostly from the Googans’ main website and tackle warehouse.

I didn’t include jigs, spinnerbait, line, hooks, tools, etc because I just wanted to get a sample of their products and prices. I went to their website and looked at every product under hard and soft baits.

Bait Type Googan Bait (Unit Price) Alternative 1 (Unit Price) Alternative 2 (Unit Price) Alternative 3 (Unit Price) Alternative 4 (Unit Price)
Bug/Beaver Bandito Bug 4” ($0.86) Reaction Innovations Kinky Beaver ($0.78) Strike King Rage Bug ($0.86)    
Craw Krackin Craw 4” ($0.86) Berkley Chigger Craw 4” ($0.56) Strike King Rage Tail Craw ($0.86)    
Lizard/Creature Trench Hawg 6” ($0.86) Zoom Brush Hog 6” ($0.69)      
Chunk Rattlin Chunk 3” ($0.86) Netbait Paca Chunk ($0.48) Strike King Rage Tail Chunk ($0.86)    
Senko Lunker Log 5” ($0.75) Yamamoto Senko 5” ($0.76) Berkley General Worm ($0.63) YUM Dinger 5” ($0.41) Z-Man Zinkerz ($0.67)
Ned Rattlin’ Ned 2.75” ($0.75) Zoom Yum Dinger 3” ($0.38) Z-Man Finesse TRD 2.75” ($0.50)    
Ribbon Tail Worm Mondo Worm 7.25” ($0.75) Zoom Magnum Ultravibe 7” ($0.79) Berkley 7” Power Worm ($0.38) YUM Ribbon Tail Worm ($0.25)  
Finesse Worm Slim Shake Worm 6” ($0.67) Zoom Trick Worm 6” ($0.28) Roboworm Straight Tail 6” ($0.44)    
Mini Finesse Worm Drag N Drop ($0.67) Big Bite Baits Smallie Smasher ($0.42)      
Paddletail Saucy Swimmer 3.3” ($0.75) Keitech Swing Impact FAT 3.3” ($0.86) Strike King Rage Swimmer 3.3 ($0.75) Berkley Power Swimmer 3.3 ($0.69)  
Paddletail Saucy Swimmer 3.8” ($0.86) Keitech Swing Impact FAT 3.8” ($1) Strike King Rage Swimmer 3.8” ($0.86) Berkley Power Swimmer 3.8 ($0.91) Zoom Z-Swim 3.8” ($1.03)
Paddletail Saucy Swimmer 4.8” ($1) Keitech Swing Impact FAT 4.8 ($1.40) Strike King Rage Swimmer 4.8” ($1)    
Fluke Dart 5” ($0.60) Zoom Super Fluke ($0.46) Bass Assassin Vapor Shad ($0.40)    
Fluke Dart 7” ($1.00) Zoom Magnum Fluke 7” ($1.12)      
Toad Explode Toad ($1.20) Keitech Noisy Flapper Frog ($1.20) Strike King Super Toad ($0.86)    
Lipless Crankbait Klutch 3/8oz ($8) Eurotackle Z-Viber 3/8 ($7)      
Lipless Crankbait Klutch 1/2oz ($8) Strike King Red Eye Shad 1/2oz ($6.29) Rat-L-Trap 1/2 oz ($6.49)    
Lipless Crankbait Klutch 5/8oz ($8) Eurotackle Z-Viber 5/8 ($8)      
Squarebill Crankbait Banger 3/8oz ($8) Lucky Craft LC DRS 1.5 ($12)      
Micro Diving Crankbait Recon Micro ($8) Eurotackle Z-Cranker 1.5” ($7)      
Medium Diving Jerkbait Scout 4.3” ($10) Lunkerhunt Impact Slash 6S 4.3” ($5.49) Megabass Vision 110 ($25)    
Finesse Jerkbait Jr. Scout 3.5” ($9) Rapala F11 ($9.19) Rapala Ripstop #9 ($9)    

The executive summary is: they have a mix of overpriced and competitively priced baits. If you must buy from this (in my opinion, morally questionable) company, stay far away from the soft plastics because they are not competitively priced. Another common feedback about their soft plastics is that they are generally quite soft, meaning they tend to last much shorter than competitor baits. You end up using more plastic (this is eco unfriendly) and having to restock their baits more often. So it’s expensive on two ends. The additional action from softer plastic is real, but as someone who’s fished all of these baits, I can tell you that Zoom’s baits are total killers and cost far less in general than Googan plastics across the board (the comparable ribbontail is the only slightly more expensive bait, and even then Zoom sells a 6” ribbontail worm that is way cheaper than the Googan one). There’s an operating curve on which you can select durability vs action, and you don’t need super soft craw baits. You do need a very soft and salt-laden senko-style bait to get the characteristic wacky falling action – so that’s a case where it can be worth it to get the OG senko. But also if you are trying to save money, the Berkley and YUM products are great too, they just look a little less alive underwater. And if you don’t throw a weightless senko, the salt (which adds weight at the cost of durability) is superfluous.

Other observations

  • Googan tracks Strike King product prices pretty hard and try to offer things at similar prices in many cases. Strike King has a similar product strategy of trying to cover the bass line well, and has fishing celebrity Kevin VanDam (KVD) as the face of their marketing.
  • Keitech charges a premium for their industry-leading swimbaits. Strike King and Googan try to undercut, and might actually be worth it depending on durability, color choices, and action. I haven’t investigated this much, and personally I still buy Keitechs because they slay in every environment. I’ve poured my own imitations using a mold from the internet, but in doing so I found that it’s not quite worth my time.
  • The soft jerkbait / flukes offered by Googan are not super duper comparable to the other flukes, because they have a unique profile that is long and skinny. From a fishing perspective, the Zoom super fluke’s profile is a better baitfish approximation and a category-leading fish catcher. Odd that Googan’s new-on-the-block bait is more expensive. The 7” Zoom is more expensive, but that makes sense because they’re using a lot more plastic since the profile is bigger.

Looking at their prices, expensive soft plastics are definitely part of their revenue strategy. Manufacturers don’t make as much off hard baits since folks take care of them and they can be used for very long periods of time. Furthermore pouring plastics is pretty easy (roboworm even automated the pouring process with machines – thus the name roboworm). Soft plastics on the other hand get ripped, get dirty, can melt, people might throw them out after 1 trip, etc. So they jack up prices on soft plastics and have some competitively priced hardbaits (not to say they are that competitively priced or well made).

Of all the products I looked like, basically every one has a very well known competitor in the industry and is not an original creation. The only baits that seem unique to me from Googan are their jerkbait and crankbaits. But I don’t think that’s so much from innovation as it is from the fact that those sorts of hardbaits are highly parameterized and have tons of possible depth/size/weight/color combinations. Personally I prefer the Lucky Craft LC cranks, LV500 lipless, Megabass Vision 110 series (jr, +1, +2), Lucky Craft Pointer series, and the Eurotackle Z-finesse series. Googan hardbaits generally look way less natural. If I wanted budget, Rapala has a very well-known line of chinese-made products that covers most depth/weight/size combinations; for example, their ripstop jerkbaits are pretty amazing for how little they cost.