Thursday 16 August 2012

Savage Gear Real Eel review

Savage Gear real eel
The long awaited arrival of the Savage Gear Real Eel is here. We've been peppered with photos of large pike with a large eels dangling out of the mouth for some time. It's all propaganda of course, but you can't blame SG for that one bit. We've all been watching and waiting and counting down the days to the launch here in the UK and those of us tracking it will have seen that Glasgow Angling Centre were the first to get them in stock. I think there's a bit of a collaboration with Savage Gear going on at the minute, and you can't fault SG or GAC for that bit of business either. I might not be daft, and I might not be bought so easily with pictures of large pike all over the shop, but one thing for sure, that realistic looking eel really caught my eye and I wanted it. Damn you Savage Gear!

Savage Gear real eel

Available in three sizes and five colours, 20cm, 30cm and 40cm. The two smaller versions come in packs of two while the largest 40cm version is sold as a single unit. The double packs come with one weighted jig head and one stinger treble hook, (more on those in a minute). The 20cm version weighs in at 27g, the 30cm at 56g and the 40cm is 147g. The colour options are black green pearl, olive pearl, purple pearl, firetiger and golden ambulance. The last two colours are familiar colours to many other SG lures.

The lures themselves are designed on real eels, with reel 3d scanning and modelling......wait a minute...... I'm starting to ramble on a bit there. In simple terms, the Real Eels are made to look a lot like real eels. They are made to swim like real eels. They're designed to wave that long eel tail around at slow speed and also while on the drop. I can confirm they both look and swim like real eels. Savage Gear have done a good job with how these things look and swim. Forget the technology behind them, they are spot on.

Back to the hook up and rigging. Supplied with a jig head and a stinger treble to give the angler options. You can simply hook the jig head alone to help when fishing the lure on the bottom or around snags, pulling the hook through the head of the eel and out a few inch down the body. You can also attach the stinger to help with better hook up rates when fishing less snaggy areas. I can't prove this with stats as I've not fished with it enough to know what works best. For now, i've had it set up with stinger and hooked fish both with the treble and the jig head. When setting up the stinger hook the jig head as before. Under the body of the eel you will see a small hole. This is where you can hook one point of the stinger treble. This will keep the treble close to the body of the lure while retrieving but will also allow the hook to pull free when a fish gets hooked. This will in turn allow the eel itself to flap freely helping to create minimum damage to the lure. The photos below will help show how to attach the stinger as I've noted some people are not too sure how. Basically, the stinger has a loop which you simply put over the eye of the jig head.

Savage Gear real eel hooks

Savage Gear real eel hanging free after stinger detaches from body

There is also another option for the more craft minded angler. You can make your own rig to suit the lure using stiff wire. The photos below are from a fellow piker, Phil Blakey. He's a very experienced angler and is always fiddling with rigs, lures and their set up to suit his needs best. His photos show his own rigs he's made to fish the eels either shallow or still using a jig head for a bit more depth. Twisting the wire to fit the lure in a similar style to that of the soft 4play ready to fish rigs. The first picture shows his jig head mod and the second the shallow/top water mod. In the second photo you can see that the wire is out of the body to illustrate how the rig comes free when a pike is hooked, to help protect the lure. The third photo is a further brain storming idea from Phil. After constant fish on the eel, and the back wire pulling free (as in photo 2) the rubber becomes a little torn. So to hold the wire in place, Phil places a tiny bit of branch (similar to when rigging a bait on a hair rig) to hold the wire in place. This will still easily come free when a fish is hooked.

jig head modification

shallow/top water mod

hair rigged

For chucking about, i've only so far used the 20cm version. I've had it rigged with the jighead and stinger supplied and I've clipped it on to one of Chicos titanium traces and heavy 80lb braid. You don't need this, but I use this because the bit of river I fish is very snaggy and you'd probably be better using a lighter set up with the 20cm version. For the retrieve, a simple steady retrieve works perfectly. A faster retrieve will keep the eel up near the top of the water while a pause will let it sink and then a slow retrieve will keep the eel a bit lower. For bouncing the eel across the bottom of the river I'd suggest removing the stinger to save hooking a sunken tree or car. You can also make the lure rise and sink by pausing and then winding again or jerking the rod while slow retrieving. All methods work as I've caught each way already. Just use the retrieve to suit your bit of water. Maybe start off with the lure just under the surface and then work the depths and if there's a pike about it'll be yours in no time.

The real eel is a great lure and the instant success in SG trials and in my own 45 minute session have proved this. It's another lure that does what it should do. It comes in a good selection of sizes and colours and there are plenty of options available to the angler when setting up to help fish the many different locations. It's a lure that should be in any pike anglers armoury in my opinion, we might even have a rival/replacement for the SG rainbow lip lure! Keep checking back over the next few days As I'll add my thoughts on the 30cm versions when they pop through the post.

EDIT- Lures arrived today at work as planned. Finished work at 8pm and in half an hour I managed to hook and lose a pike on the firetiger 30cm, then switched to the olive pearl and landed two pike to around 7lb. That's a successful lure if ever i've seen one. The 30cm versions look exactly like the 20s but bigger. What else did you expect? They move in the water just like the 20s. Often with a larger version of a lure it works in a different way but the eels maintain the same movement and sink rate, they're just a bigger lure. Even with a heavier jig head they do not sink any faster and have a nice nose dive which also keeps that tail wiggling. The jig hook and stinger both are scaled up and look the right size. Two of the fish were hooked on the stinger, one on the jig hook. The firetiger colours stand out a mile in the water and you can easily see your lure at a distance. If I can give you one more tip to help you enjoy these lures, fish them high up in the water. You can bring them in just under the surface with the right speed retrieve or by holding your rod high. When the pike hit them, hold on!

Savage Gear Real Eel
This pike won me the monthly Savage Gear photo competition in the Pike and Predators magazine and £250 worth of Savage gear lures. These eels have already paid for them self!

ANOTHER EDIT -  This beast fell to the 30cm Firetiger.

Savage Gear Real Eel

AND ANOTHER EDIT - So now i've been using the eels for quite some time. I don't always use them as my first choice lure, more that I try to use them to suit the swim I'm fishing. For example working them slowly through a shallow swim or even slower getting them down to the bottom of a deeper swim. Sometimes I'll remove the stinger treble to help prevent getting snagged as much on the bottom. I do prefer to keep the stinger in place as I feel more confident about hook ups, but i've not lost a fish just because I have removed it. I still find a mixture of hook ups both on the jig head and the stinger. I also have a couple of different weighted jig heads, with the heavier ones easier for getting the eel down deep but this means you have to have a slightly faster retrieve to keep it off the snaggy bottom.

I hear people complaining that their eels don't swim straight and kind of flip around. I've seen this myself but for me the simple solution is to either slow down the retrieve or re-align the jig head and stinger as if either one of these isn't straight this effects the balance of the eel and makes it turn over. That said, this doesn't bother me too much unless it is excessive because this doesn't bother the pike either.

Another complaint I've heard is of how battered and ripped apart the lures can become. I do remind people that these are soft lures and that pike have sharp teeth so this is to be expected. Some of my hard lures have no paint left on them! If your real eels get damaged you can either glue them back together or heat up a knife and then melt them back together. Here's a few photos to show you the damage which will be expected on your lures. These eels are pretty lightly damaged compared to some i've had but i've since lost those eels to snags, Grrr!

A tooth damaged tail can be ripped off  if you don't notice it and then pull on it!
The jig head eventually rips the top of the eel, but a simple fix using a hot knife sticks it back together.
jig head damage around the front of the eel head. Not too much of a problem, just use super glue to keep it all together

The stinger hole eventually rips open, but not a problem since you want the hook to come free on a fish anyway.

And still catching fish in -6C - Savage Gear real eel

Perch love Savage Gear real eels

This one fell to the 40cm black pearl Savage Gear Real Eel


  1. Excellent review and blog. For the eel damage, Mend-it ( is excellent. Pricey, but worth it. Has saved me a fortune in Latex (I am a shore guide) this last season :)

    1. cheers Robin. Heard Mend-it mentioned before just never got around to buying any.