There is never a time for anglers where we lose the want to catch more and bigger fish. In all honesty, the lures that we as anglers tie on the end of our lines can often set us apart from the competition and give us an edge over their tactics. The lures that we choose to use can mean the difference between fishing and catching. In fact, lure selection is so important that it should be mastered. Before you choose a lure, understand that many lures are great performers and some just aren’t. Take the Banjo Minnow. It is a soft plastic jerkbait and swimbait hybrid.

It is used as a jerkbait but it swims like a swimbait. A very interesting lure with an unusual hook presentation. The original 006 Banjo Minnow made its debut on the big screen in the late 1900s and early 2000s. This is apparently how The 006 Banjo Minnow got its name. It has since become one of the most advertised TV products. The lure was invented by Wayne Hockmeyer and it has an interesting backstory. By utilizing the basic concept of big fish readily consuming smaller wounded fish even when they are not hungry, the Banjo Minnow was born.

Many anglers are often skeptical about fishing lures that appear on TV and they have every reason to be. Lures such as the Mighty Bite and Helicopter Lure throughout the years have been the epitome of anglers trusting in a miracle lure to be the magic bullet with the silver lining for their tackle boxes. How warranted is this trust though? Is this trust misplaced? If so, why? Most of the time, producers are just hoping that they can make a quick buck instead of actually putting more and bigger fish in the hands of the fisherman.

That is exactly what the Banjo Minnow claims to do. Help you catch more and bigger fish. Does this lure help you do that though? Only you can decide. In this post, we are attempting to put together a great, informative, and honest Banjo Minnow review from a real angler to another without the use of TV infomercials.  Without trying to sell you something you don’t want, we are attempting to show anglers the pros and cons of this lure as well as what they will be receiving if they do decide to add the system to their tackle box.

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  • Targets all major game fish.
  • Subtle, lifelike appearance
  • Extremely Sharp Hooks
  • Included DVD
  • Great Colors and Sizes


  • Expensive
  • Hard hooking fish
  • Does not perform as well as the commercial claims
  • New lure design means original lures are now unavailable
  • Predators with teeth will easily rip it to shreds

What Is Included in the Banjo Minnow Fishing System?

The banjo minnow fishing system comes with 12 3-inch minnows with two lures per color, 12 4-inch minnows also with two lures per color, 6 5-inch minnows with one lure per color, 2 4-inch glow-in-the-dark Firefly minnows for fishing in the shadows or at night, and hooks. Those include three number one weedless hooks, three number four weedless hooks, three number 8 weedless hooks, 2 el Senko hooks (A number 1 and 2), and a set of 60 weed guards. It also includes five sets of plastic eyes for shallow water fishing.

It includes two sets of metal eyes for fishing on the bottom, a brochure of instructions, and a DVD titled,” catch the big one”. A Banjo Minnow tutorial DVD. This DVD is supposed to show you step by step information on how to use the Banjo Minnow correctly. Whether that is the case or not has yet to be discovered. I have not yet watched the DVD myself yet. If you or know anybody who has, leave a reply below telling us about the details of what is on that disk.

How The Banjo Minnow Is Supposed To Work – The Bold Claim

As odd as it may sound, this product’s claim to fame is the supposed,” lifelike action”. The creator of the lure says that the lure swims just like a wounded minnow or real fish. The commercial attempts to convey the message that hungry predator fish will react to certain lure movements called a genetic response. That part is true. Fish do react to lures. They have what’s called a lateral line that detects vibrations in the water. This helps them detect prey and other things. This is how they hunt.

They also claim that this lure is the most lifelike one ever created. It seems like they mixed two very important aspects of fishing together. The reason I say this is to make a very important point. The first factor they mention is the lure’s realism. The second one is the reaction of predator fish because of this added realism. They are basically saying that the fish react to the lure because of the realism of the bait. They call it a “genetic response”. In other words, a reaction bite because of looks.

In fishing in general, lures are designed with one intent or the other and not both. An example of a reaction lure would be the crankbait or fishing plug. It is intended to be a reaction lure. It is designed to irritate fish into striking and it does not look or move naturally. Lures such as the soft plastic swimbaits are examples of natural hunger-inducing baits. When fish are feeding, they will go after real baitfish.

If they look very real, the action is not intended to irritate fish, and they are used to appeal to fish when they are hungry instead of making them react to it. They also make the claim, “makes fish bite even when they are not hungry”. To be fair, crankbaits and many other lures do that too. They just don’t move naturally or look very real while doing it. The Banjo Minnow claims to do both and do them well. Does that make the Banjo Minnow better? Only the angler can personally decide. Does it work though?

Banjo Minnow TV Commercial – The Official Broadcasting


Banjo Minnow or Not? Does The Banjo Minnow Help You Catch Fish?

We haven’t really answered the real question yet. Does the Banjo Minnow Work? Does it help you catch fish? The answer to this question needs to be addressed in a couple of parts simply because a simple yes or no cannot really be said for fishing lures of any kind. It may work for you. It may not. The success that anglers have with these lures vary just like with every other bait. It is not actually revolutionary.

Does The Banjo Minnow Help You Catch Fish?

The Banjo Minnow does catch fish. This answer is mentioned because of anglers like Wayne Hawkmeyer who invented the lure. He is a guide, he still loves to fish, and he exclusively uses the Banjo Minnow to catch all his fish. It does well for him. The Banjo Minnow is a lure that you can catch fish on. As many would realize though, it isn’t the only lure that you can catch fish on. Many fish are regularly caught on other lures like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and even other jerkbaits being soft plastic or otherwise.  As is true for all lures, just because you catch a fish on it doesn’t make it a good bait.

Again, you must make that call yourself. Catching fish on artificial lures is a complicated sport on the surface of things. Lures that are designed well are often the best performers. Whether it be the action, the durability, the overall design, or something else, good lures often result in good fish. There are a ton of good lures on the market. Is the Banjo Minnow one of them? The extremely specific and direct answer is, “it depends on the angler”. Not just your skills either. It depends on fish preferences.

Does the Banjo Minnow Help You Catch Fish As Advertised?

Does the Banjo Minnow help you catch fish as advertised? If asked a different way, it can be asked: does the Banjo Minnow help you catch more and bigger fish by triggering a genetic response, making fish bite even if they are not hungry putting you in the league of fishing guides, and other professional fishermen, regardless of your skill level, just as the commercial says? Very, very, very, very unlikely. Sorry my little soft plastic friend but you you are all bark and no bite. This bait is not something that can live up to the claims marketed for it.

The answer to this question is certainly a big fat no. It is a good bait, but it isn’t a lure that can win the entire sport. No lure can do that. This is primarily why so many exist. There just isn’t a one lure fits all in this sport. Reaction lures exist to make fish react. Natural-looking baits exist to make fish feed. The wounded minnow is not a new concept either. The very first wounded minnow lure was actually made by the founder of Rapala Baits. It alone is what influenced the creation of hurt minnow lures in general and is ultimately the reason for the crankbait and this lure existing. We should thank Rapala instead for making the wounded minnow lure what it is today.

In the meantime, I don’t think that worshipping the banjo minnow as your next hog snatching tournament lure is a very good idea. Don’t get me wrong. I love the original 006 Banjo Minnow. It worked very well for the time and its still fun to throw. The problem is that they switched the design of the original 006 minnow to another design and remarketed it for the same claims. Question for you. If they had to redesign the fishing lure because the original was getting “old”, wouldn’t that mean that the original was not perfect and demands you own other baits too?

What I Think About The Banjo Minnow Fishing System

As for the part in the commercial that says, “Banjo Minnow is not just another fishing lure. It’s different”. For the time, this may have been true. At the time this post is being written though (in 2019), I would beg to differ. I would solidly say that it IS just another fishing lure by today’s standards. Why? Simple answer. It isn’t the only soft plastic jerkbait on the market for fishing lures and it is much more expensive. Berkley makes them too. Yes, they look a bit different, but many fish have been caught on them as well. They call the lure a fluke.

Berkley isn’t the only one either. They are just one company. Most bait companies make a soft plastic jerkbait of some sort and pretty much all of them catch great fish when you properly use a spinning rod to cast them. Do I think that the Banjo Minnow is a great lure? Yes. I have caught a lot of fish on it. Does that mean the same can be said for you or your friend who fishes on the weekends? No, it doesn’t. I have also caught a lot of fish on the Zoom Fluke and many other soft plastic jerkbaits. As for the entirety of the commercial that talks about the genetic response that triggers the fish to bite it when it isn’t hungry, be wary. The advertising is misleading. It is very true that fish love to eat dying minnows.

You have to honestly ask yourself though. Are the fish biting the lure just because it looks good or is it for another reason? Would you honestly eat food when you are not hungry simply because it looks tasty? If you are anything like me, eating without an appetite just doesn’t happen. When fish bite if they are not hungry because of the lure, it is called a reaction bite. Not a hunger bite. The fish don’t bite at these kinds of lures because of how realistic they look regardless of what the commercial tells you.

They bite at them because reaction lures tend to interfere with their territorial instincts and personal space. For example, I could use the Banjo Minnow to catch a fish, release the same fish back into the water, and throw a crankbait in front of it. If I work that lure properly and persistently, I will get the same fish to bite it out of irritation. This is just how it works. Not because of how realistic the lure is or how natural it moves, but rather, the exact opposite. I think I am confident enough in my abilities to catch the same fish twice even by using an alternative soft plastic jerkbait or swimbait. I do honestly feel like the commercial is mixing feeding strikes with reaction strikes. A distinction needs to be made.

Both are not created equal to each other. Does it catch fish? Yes. Does it help you catch more and bigger fish? Hardly. It depends on the angler and how it is used. Is it a bait worth investing your time and money into? Probably not for the money. Still, every angler is different and you must decide for yourself. Appears to be a steep investment.

A Word Of Caution On Purchasing The Fishing System

Before you leave, please make sure to read this part of the review. 

Have you used the Banjo Minnow yet? Leave a comment below to tell us about your experiences with this lure!

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  1. Nathan Child says:

    I love my banjo minnows…most of the time.

    I first bought them back in college, roughly in 1995ish when I had seen the infomercial numerous times. Late one night, after gorging myself with popcorn and ice cream, I was in a bloated belly stupor, saw the commercial and decided ‘what they hey’, so I ordered my first set.

    I was in TX at the time and primarily used them for largemouth bass, which love them. I now live in UT and trout won’t sniff them.

    When bass fishing, I always start with the banjo minnow as I tend to have more success than plastic worms, buzz baits, crank baits, spinnerbaits, rattletraps, and so on. However, like any smart fisherman (I try to be smart, anyway), I use them as part of an assortment of different types of lures. Some days, in ponds where the bass seem to hit the banjo minnow every third cast, I’ve gone back and won’t get a single hit with the banjo minnow on a different day.

    I personally do not put too much stock into the claims of the manufacturer that it’s this or that, lifelike or triggers instinctive bites. I couldn’t know any of that. I simply view it as the best bass lure I have, to compliment other lures that are available. To me, it’s a good value, a good product. But it’s not all that, not the best, not all it’s advertised to be.

    I will close in saying that my original purchase came with a video on ways to retrieve the lure (such as skimming it on top, quick/short jerks, slow jerks with long drops, etc.). I would submit my success in using the lure is trying it out with different retrieval methods if the first one I tried didn’t work.

    If you do purchase it, I hope it works for whatever type of fish you’re using, as I have only had the success with largemouth. I couldn’t possibly know how effective it would be on other game fish.

    1. David Moore says:

      Hello Nathan. You are a hundred percent right about that. The original banjo minnows (006) were truly great lures to use. What you are saying is right. Nobody refutes that they can be great lures as many people (myself included) have caught huge fish on them time and time again. The commercial said it is the best option for any fish, which doesn’t hold weight for Grass Carp or plankton feeders. It is only a terrific lure. Not the best one. It is a great part of any tackle box, for sure. If you need anything, contact us directly via our contact page. Stay hooked!

  2. Cody King says:

    I am a big fisherman. Mostly saltwater now. My grandma sent me a original kit when I was in high school. We used to fish a stocked pond. When they were biting you could catch them on anything. Tiny torpedo was favorite. When they weren’t biting it was frustrating because I knew there were thousands of bass in this pond and they wouldn’t bite. Once I got this kit it didn’t matter. I could catch bass ALL the time EVERY time. Never used them anywhere else though. All I can say is on dozens of occasions I would catch fish like crazy and no one else with me could catch a single fish. The problem was they were expensive and I would run out all the time because the fish would tear them up really bad. My dad used to make me give my lures to a guest so he could catch fish. If they weren’t biting I would still catch fish like crazy. If I lost the last one you might as well go home. This lure absolutely did exactly what they say it did. At least in a small five acre pond stocked with way too many 1.5 pound bass.

    1. David Moore says:

      Hello Cody. You are absolutely right. It seems the original kit did everything they claimed it did, at least enough to be considered worth it. The Banjo Original 006 Minnow was a highlight of the decade. It was extremely realistic in the water! You mention the price investment and you are correct. It is very expensive. It wouldn’t be near as bad if they did not rip apart so easily. Banjo Minnows have their times and place and for many people, they just work. This is fortunate. Unfortunately, they changed the original minnows to a new design which are less effective. Your experience is similar to my own. Great lure but fragile and expensive.

  3. How can we get the old Banjo Minnows from the 90’s? Check the forums, a lot of people are saying the same thing I am. Those were GOLD!! The 006 Banjos are trash!!!!

    1. David Moore says:

      Hello Adam. I agree that the original Banjo Minnows were awesome. So far, we have not found a way to locate a supplier of the originals. The new design may look better but they killed the action. I wish we knew of a place to locate and purchase the original ones. So far, nobody has located a way to get them.

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    1. David Moore says:

      Yes. I agree that whatever seems too good to be true always will be.

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