The size of your lure is very important. Matching the hatch or imitating the bait fish present on the day is your first step in the right direction. Remember the profile should fit as well. If the fish are long and thin, don’t go using a wide flat lure. A general rule that says “the bigger the lure, the bigger the fish”, often holds true and should always be considered depending on what you are targeting. In rough or turbulent conditions a bigger lure is obviously a lot easier to see for the fish than a smaller one. In very clean calm conditions as a first choice, opt for the smaller lure. Invariably it will prove to be the better option.
In clean water conditions the brighter the day the brighter the lure, the duller the day, the duller the lure. You have probably heard this many times before and for good reason, it works. Water clarity however is the key here. When the water is off-colour as in muddy or milky coffee, then the Chartreuse and Pearls are a better option. In green water, Pinks and Oranges work very well. In tannin or stained waters, opt for the Oranges, Coppers and Brass or Gold type colours. When in doubt a good contrast such as Red and White (Red Head) or any dark or glow colour, with white, is a good choice. Matt colours are definitely a preference in coloured water, whereas in clean gin water, opt for the high gloss, or chrome colours.
This is an area that can be extremely specie specific and unfortunately in this area we really don’t know much at all. A good rule of thumb is that the noisier the water environment the noisier the presentation needs to be. In very calm conditions an extremely noisy lure will often chase rather than attract fish. Each species is definitely very different to the next and is capable of detecting a specific range of frequencies which may be wide or limited. Experience therefore has little equal in terms of attracting fish by noise. Your faster moving game fish are definitely attracted to surface commotion and it is a good idea to start a retrieve with some hectic speed and splashing. This often attracts more than one candidate to your lure and greed normally makes the job a lot easier.
Your slower moving predators tend to be attracted to lower frequency sound waves and these are best generated by using bibbed or “Rapala” type lures as well as paddle-tail plastics and jerk or slash type baits.
Some lures are fairly restricted in terms of the speed of which they can be worked, so lure selection can be important in this regard. The rule of thumb here is the rougher the conditions, or the lower the visibility, the slower the lure needs to be fished. In very clean calm conditions more often than not the faster lure will catch the fish. If this does not work then the element of stealth come into the equation and one might find that a very subtle and quiet presentation, although fished slowly, may well work.
Some lures allow you to use the element of smell, particularly the soft plastics and biodegradable Berkley Gulp type product. There are also various sprays and dips that can be applied even to crank baits or metal spoons. More often than not however smell on your fast-moving lures is invariably a waste of time as this sense hardly comes into the equation. When fishing slowly with soft baits in particular the element of smell can be quite important, especially when fishing calmer water. There are two things that it does. Firstly as the smell drifts off in the current and with repeated presentations in the same area, the fish will hone in on the smell. Secondly, it often causes the fish to not just hold onto the lure for longer, but in many cases, attempt to swallow it. Most fish can be incredibly quick at sucking in and then spitting out or rejecting a lure, often without the angler even knowing. The element of smell is well worth using whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Next article will cover options on rigging lures, various ways to fish them and how to look after your lures.
ALL ABOUT LURES - PART II
Treble vs Single
This is the most important decision an angler has to make when it comes to fitting the lure with its hardware. There is a preference for singles rather than trebles for the following reasons. On smaller fish one is often faced with a scenario where the treble hook has embedded itself in both the upper and lower jaw making it extremely difficult to remove and causing a lot of damage to the fish and wasting time for the angler. Single hooks are obviously a lot easier to remove.
A treble hook provides substantially more wind resistance when travelling through the air often causing the lure to pull to one side therefore decreasing distance and once in the water it has more of a parachute type effect on the lure than a single hook will have.
The bite or distance between the point of the hook and the shank is significantly smaller when it comes to a treble than if a large single is used on the back of a spoon, for example. Bite is particularly important when a lot of pressure is going to be put on a fish as it significantly increases the holding ability in a fish’s mouth.
Connecting the hooks to the lure
There are some really good quality split rings in the market. It is worth paying the extra money to ensure the extra strength. The size of the split ring should be determined by the amount of pressure that it is going to withstand and also the size of the eye of the hook that it is going to have to pass through. It is very important that the split ring can move freely through the eye of the hook. A good quality split ring would normally be stamped. This can be seen by the slight kink where the two ends meet keeping the wires in line.
It is often a good idea to incorporate more than one split ring between the last eye on the spoon and the eye of the hook giving the hook more freedom of movement to fold back during flight in the cast and also to provide the whiplash stinger type effect when the fish hits the lure from the side. Should one want to create a parachute type effect to give the lure more stability at speed in the water, a bigger hook can be used and one can also incorporate a “split ring, swivel, split ring” link between the hook and the lure. This helps considerably when top speed retrievals are necessary. It is very important to make sure that when you work with split rings you do not stretch the wires apart. This often happens when somebody tries to open a split ring with split ring pliers but there is already a small swivel on the ring. It bends the wires and leaves a gap where a swivel or hook can slip in between the wires and work its way loose.
We have spoken about the conventional rear rigging of your iron or metal lure. There is a very effective alternative which helps incredibly from a long casting perspective and also from a jigging or working the lure perspective. If you rig a stinger type hook to the front end of your lure, preferably by using a swivel onto the lure’s front split ring, a stiff wire rig off that onto a stiff hook rig, making sure that the hook you are using has a wider gape than the width of the spoon and hangs ever so slightly over the back of your spoon. This method of rigging is ideal for jigging or working the spoon, when a conventionally rigged spoon would normally “box” (this is when the bottom hook on the lure hooks the line above the spoon causing it to come sideways through the water). You will find that “stinger rigging” your spoon gives it a lot more action or kick in the water and really does wonders for long casts. The same sort of rigging technique can be used on surface plugs like GT Ice Creams especially when one is looking for a lot of movement on the surface and/or long casts.
Next article will continue with various ways to fish with lures and how to look after your lures.
ALL ABOUT LURES WHEN SPINNING OR CASTING – PART III
Various ways to fish with lures Spin fishing with lures in the salt whether shore-based or off a boat can be divided into four different categories or types of lures. Top waters, crank and stick baits, irons and plastics.
Top waters can be broken into three different groups. Poppers and Chuggers that float but don’t cast so well, Floating Stick Baits and the third group GT Ice Cream type casting plugs that cast well but sink when not retrieved.
Poppers and Chuggers – the only way to really fish this type of lure is to “bloop”, “chug”, or “pop” it, either by a firm pull on the rod (bigger baits) or a sharp crank on the reel (smaller baits). This method creates a large air-bubble type “pop” in the water which when viewed from below is silver in appearance. The only thing that really varies is the length of the “blooping” pull and the period pause in between. One can go from a short, sharp, fast popping type action, to a long, smooth, slow or fast pull. Depending on the conditions, the pause in between should vary. Normally in calmer water, the pause would be longer. In rough, choppier water, the pause would be shorter and the pulls sharper. This sort of technique can definitely pull fish to the surface in deep water and is a lot more productive on a calmer glassier type surface.
Floating Stick Baits – the big difference between this and the Poppers and Chuggers is that the bulk of the lure sits below the surface and whilst it does float, it spends more time just beneath the surface than on the surface. As a result it is a lot more effective in a choppier sea condition and also in a strong current where the water is turbulent. There are two ways to fish this lure, the first one being a fairly steady retrieve where the stick bait will swim and wallow from side to side giving a really big broad-side flash type presentation. The other more popular technique is to slash or jerk it in a erratic gliding or sliding type action.
Casting Plugs - these surface lures are undoubtedly the top distance and accuracy casting top water and can be fished in many different ways as opposed to other top waters. The most common technique is a long cast (cover more ground / more time on water), starting with a very fast retrieve which causes a lot of splashing and slashing on the surface. Thereafter one should slow down to a retrieve that gives a steady chattering or fluttering type action on the surface. This speed can be varied which will of course vary the action from a very slow almost wobbling type action to a very fast jumping or skipping type action. Should the fish be down deep a very high cast causing the GT Ice Cream to hit the water from directly above and dive deep quickly with the line coming down directly behind it as opposed to having to sink slowly with a full cast of flat line on the water is recommended. A deep-diving cast should always follow with a very fast retrieve to the surface and then slow down once the lure appears on the surface. When conditions are very choppy the cone-shaped GT Ice Cream is a good option when fished at the noisiest retrieve speed on the surface. The Needle Nose shape however and the Skinny Needle Nose can be fished almost sub-surface like a Stick Bait in these conditions. One would let the lure sink a little and then give it some erratic jerks up to the surface before letting it sink a bit and repeating the process. The Needle Nose and long Skinny however are definitely at their best with a glassier surface and when conditions are really glassy, the Skinny comes into its own. This is the only surface lure that can be fished at the fastest speed that you can possibly wind, which is often what it takes to get the strike from your fast moving game fish.
Always remember the rod angle has a lot to play in the action of all these surface lures. More often than not the rod should be held at 90 degrees to the lure and either vertically or horizontal. In the horizontal position one would obviously be tending to pull the lure through a chop rather than over it whereas with the rod in the vertical position or with as much elevation as possible, the lure would tend to ride over the chop.
When fishing with surface lures and braid, if you are using a constant retrieve with the rod pointing at the lure you will miss most of the strikes. It is far more effective to hold the rod at 90 degrees so that the fish can grab or engulf the lure and turn to go away before you apply the pressure or strike.