The last few years have seen the introduction of two significant players in the elastic marked – the Inova Bait Binder and the TronixPro Baitex. Each of them are more than just an elastic, offering a well thought out casing that stores and protects the elastic whilst also aiding in application.
For many years, bait elastic was simply bait elastic. There were no notable differentiators in the market. No matter where it came from, or who made it, it came wrapped round a small white plastic tube, nobody ever got to the end of it, the top layer would be stripped away (often perished) each session to reveal a fresh un-compromised layer and it served a purpose. It was clearly far from perfect, but doing a job none the less.
Then, along came the UllCatch Bait Weaver, which would, following a few tweaks and improvements (along with a colour change), go on to become the Inova Bait Binder. It was revolutionary in offering a dispenser that was ergonomical, maintained tension on the elastic, protected it form the environments and, for the first time ever, people were finishing rolls of elastic without losing them! That had to be a bonus environmentally, with less waste. At the core of the dispensing device was still the same style of elastic we were now all used to – not the cotton of decades ago, but high quality, low diameter, tight binding elastic.
Next, we were introduced to the TronixPro Baitex. Marketed as a new material of baiting elastic, made from latex! Arguably this would provide superior strength at a lower diameter, fantastic news for fine bait presentations. Again, it came in it’s own case / dispenser.
The inevitable question with two fantastic products on the market is which one should you lump for? We get asked this question a lot and it’s really difficult when we love both products! The only thing to do is break down the question and look at a few of the pros and cons of each one, from which you can form your own conclusions on which will suit your purpose better.
Before getting on to the dispensers / cases, let’s address the primary material you are buying with each of these devices; after all, neither is cross compatible with other elastics on the market, so if the underlying elastic is not of suitable quality, the tool is useless.
The elastic for the Inova Bait Binder comes in 3 options, Heavy, Medium and Light, in reducing diameters accordingly. There is therefore sufficient choice for all, from the match angler preparing delicate worm and shellfish baits to the specimen hunter binding whole mackerel to launch out.
It’s worth noting that the heaviest end of the range still falls a little short of other elastics out there, and if all out big baits are your thing, it may be better sticking to a cheaper dedicated elastic in this regard. More on that later.
The elastic is much like any others on the market, but the tube it sits on is bespoke, to fit the binder, meaning you cannot use third party elastics with this tool.
The elastic offers good strength relative to each of the diameters in the range and is of low enough diameter that a bait looks well wrapped, without looking mummified in elastic.
The elastic is tight, binds well and does not snap too easily.
You will finish these elastics, not because they contain any less elastic than a conventional spool, but because you will not keep losing them!
The elastic in the TronixPro Baitex is revolutionary. Let’s cover the basics first though.
Like the Bait Binder, it is offered in a fine, medium and heavy. Each of striking low diameter for the relative strength. As with the baitbinder, the Baitex is not the most dedicated of elastics towards the heaviest gauge of the scale, and dedicated heavy elastics may offer a better solution in some circumstances.
For most circumstances, there will be an appropriate diameter to choose and, such is the strength and performance of the material, there is little that cannot be handled by the fine option, the lowest diameter of them all.
By low diameter, we really do mean low diameter for the Baitex. It is hands down the strongest of any elastics based on a strength to diameter rating.
Because of this impressively low diameter, along with some of the stretch and other benefits of latex, the elastic, once bound to the bait, is nigh on invisible. From a presentation perspective, one could soon wonder where the elastic had gone, it seems almost absorbed by the bait.
Finally, you may never finish these elastics. Not because you will lose them, but because there is so much on them! The size of the spools are just craxy compared to anything else on the market and makes the economics of them that much cheaper too.
We’ll look at a number of things a case or ‘applicator’ for elastic should do, and where they fall down in this regard.
For the Inova Bait Binder, the case is it’s USP, it’s very reason for existence, whilst the TronixPro Baitex sees substantial innovation in the elastic itself, with the casing showing little more than being a quick and differentiating solution.
It’s worth noting first one key difference between the dispensers. The TronixPro Baitex is sold within a dispenser – so if you do ever finish one, the whole unit id disposed of and replaced.
With the Inova Bait Binder, you can buy the dispenser with elastics, without, or buy replacement elastics in any of the diameters. That’s certainly a positive in terms of waste, though each spool has less elastic than the Baitex, so all those little white bits of plastic tube will add up and the overall wastage will be similar.
The Inova Bait Binder dispenser is the most ergonomic on the market. It sits perfectly in your hand as you bind a bait, a perfect size and shape to avoid getting in the way as you wrap the bait.
It dispenses elastic easily whilst largely maintaining perfect tension. This really is the key design element of the bait binder – keeping that tension just right whilst making sure that when you do pull for that final snap, the snap occurs on the outside of the dispenser avoiding the need to re-thread.
This snapping on the outside, occurs nearly without fail when the device is new. Unfortunately, as time passes, without regular cleaning down, the small bits of residual leftover bait and other dirt that gets within the mechanism plays with the fine tolerances and it can either apply too much tension, or cause snapping on the inside of the binder (or right at the lip, which still has to result in a re-threading).
Naturally this can be mitigated by looking after your bait binder. Else, constant re-threading, especially in a match situation, soon negates the benefits. It is not easy, with cold or wet hands, to get these elastics back through!
The easiest option is to take a few strands and blow it through the opening in the lid before screwing the device back together. The opening for re-threading is not tiny, so whilst frustrating to be doing over and over, it is not a taxing task to be done occasionally.
The TronixPro Baitex dispenser has a few design elements that show a level of thought has gone into it, albeit the real evolution here is in the elastic itself.
The dispenser is much larger, to hold the very substantial spools of elastic. It is not the most ergonomic, sitting quite large in the hand, and one must amend their usual bait wrapping approach a bit to use it accordingly. This may be less of an issue for those with larger hands than the writer!
There are two holes on the outer of the dispenser for which to pass the elastic through – the top and the side. This allows for user preference and, on the lip of each of these holes is a small piece of velcro, that catches the loose thread of elastic once snapped off, ensuring it does not disappear back within the case and require re-threading.
Unfortunately, this velcro, whilst nice when pro-actively used, isn’t the same sort of fail safe as the design on the bait binder. You will find you lose the end thread a lot more often than a well looked after bait binder.
Re-threading is slightly more difficult than the binder in some ways, because the opening to thread through is smaller. However, it is also more easily accessible, being on a flat lid whereas the bait binder it is at the end of the tubular cap that your finger will just fit inside. All in all, they post equal frustrations in re-threading and this is not an area either has perfected for the user.
The Baitex does not apply its own tension either, which is another factor that impacts how you naturally wrap the bait.
In summary, the perfect device would be an Inova Bait Binder containing the Baitex elastic! As a dispenser, the Bait Binder wins, whereas in terms of elastic diameters, strength and bait presentation, the Baitex really is on a whole new level that the rest of the market will hopefully aim to catch up with.
Cost wise, I’d be leaning towards the Baitex, given the sheer quantities on each spool. However, over conventional spools of elastic each one of them will bring savings over time purely by ensuring spools don’t perish and are not lost. There will be a substantially reduced wastage.
In a match situation, where I do not have the time to risk regular re-threading, I have a couple of well cleaned bait binders. In my general shore fishing, where time is less precious, I lean back towards the Baitex as the higher quality elastic – which I also prefer on the bigger baits requiring more elastic as it is harder to detect.
As mentioned at the beginning, for massive fish baits, I tend to still stick with the VMO Heavy Duty bait elastic. It’s a much thicker diameter, but is made with the specific job in mind and does it exceptionally well. Certainly no need to reinvent the wheel here!
Hopefully some of this information has enabled you to make a more informed decision. Each of the options has its positives and its drawbacks and therefore we would not go as far an indicating a clear winner, it will very much depend on preferences and purpose.