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So many lures – so little time!

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So many lures – so little time!
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You buy a new fishing lure. It is beautiful; so colourful and shiny. Your friends have also told you that it does the trick. Full of hope you go to your favourite fishing spot. You don’t give up and you cast several dozen times. You endure cast after empty cast. After another empty run, when you look at the hook dangling pitifully at the end, the tension is easing. Your new lure is no longer mysterious and exceptional. It becomes very ordinary. Very common, in fact; just another gadget, invented to take money out of your pocket. Throwing it to the box, you feel irritated that you’ve let this nice salesman talk you into buying this piece of trash.

If this is what has happened to you recently, this text is just for you!

Of course, you are sure that you were using it properly. Do you really think you gave it a chance? Why – you will ask – after all you had been fishing with very similar lures before. You even tried retrieving the line faster and slower and it did not work! Well… I can see that we have to start from the very beginning. You will have to answer a few questions but then, after we have analyzed your answers together, you will be able to make more conscious choice when shopping and be more effective when fishing.

A short quiz for a start.

  1. Do you know into which group – family the manufacturer classified the lure you fish with?
  2. Do you know what type of equipment (rod, line, and reel) is recommended for fishing with your lure?
  3. Do you know what kind of technique is recommended by the manufacturer to present this lure?
  4. Are you always aware that it is you who guides the lure?
  5. Do you know how much positioning the rod against the water surface affects the lure’s action?
  6. Do you use the rod to induce additional action of the lure?
  7. Do you know what happens to the lure when you speed up (slow down) retrieving the line?
  8. Do you always try to think what is the depth in the place you lure is in the moment?
  9. Can you fluently eliminate backlash on the line?
  10. Do you always know what your target species is?

 

If you answered NO to more than half of the above questions, you had better improve you theory before you go and practice. In my opinion, your predator-hunting is like shooting a riffle in a dark room in hope for scoring a fly.

You say that you caught many trophies this way? Good for you! It means that you know exceptionally good fishing grounds.

Just imagine what happens if you would only start -

 

To fish more consciously and with a well thought out strategy!

 

We will start our short lecture with a well-known formula describing the elements of a fishing success: a good catch. It was presented many years ago by Doug Stange – the chief editor of the largest anglers magazine in the USA, In-Fisherman. The formula is as follows -

S = F + L + P

Where -

 

S – Angler’s Success,

F -Fish

L -Location

P -Presentation

 

As we can see, there is nothing about the lure. Does it mean that our choice of lure is irrelevant?

Of course not. The significance of the lure (its size and colour) is hidden in two words: Fish – which includes knowledge of habits of target species (e.g. preferred prey size in a given period) and

Presentation

Good presentation need hard work and concentration.

Good presentation is in most cases a key to success, to a good catch. This collective term refers to the structure of waters the lure works at as well as speed, amplitude and frequency of action. On the one hand we speak of the angler’s choice: whether to use the sinking lure or floating lure, shallow runner or deep runner. You may use diving lures to fish in shallow waters overgrown with weeds, but why should you make your life difficult? You may try to catch the zander using the trolling technique and shallow wobblers, but still the proper presentation can only be achieved by using the lures working at the very bottom.

Of course, the most important aspect of presentation is technique the retrieving technique. It has to be the result of the angler’s both theoretical and practical knowledge. You find it hard to believe that the very same lure used in the same place at the same time but badly presented triggers MUCH less fish? Soon you will be convinced!

So what is the “proper presentation about”? It cannot be defined in just a few sentences. Some master anglers even claim that each lure requires a different approach and technique. It may be a little exaggeration but, without any doubt, it is necessary to learn about main lure families and basic methods of use. Each of them requires a different technique and still new products keep appearing on the market. So, knowing the basics, when you reach certain degree of expertise, you will be able to assess a new bait after a few casts and choose the optimal fishing method. In this “simple” way you will become a much more effective angler.

When discussing various artificial lure fishing techniques, we will focus on the group that does not have a proper collective name. Recently, there has been a lot of news in this family. More and more new types and kinds of lures as well as their modifications are appearing on the European market. Some of the products are well-established designs imported from the USA, only now reaching our market. However, most of them are new ideas of the European manufacturers, which, in turn, win the hearts and minds of American anglers.

This group includes the lures still known in many countries as -

Wobblery

Generally speaking, these lures are designed to resemble water creatures. Made of wood or plastic, they consist of one or many parts and are often equipped with various additions, like lips of various types and shapes, turbines and propellers, and recently also silicone parts of various sizes. Action of these lures is very diverse and depends on their construction. Often it does not even remind a “wobbling action”. That is why I think it wrong to lump all the “wobbling” lures together. On the other hand, it seems unfeasible to establish any precise categories for these lures. There are so many hybrids of the already existing families that it has become impossible to mark clear distinctions among them.

Let us use the terminology that was developed many years ago on the North American continent and is still widely used in Europe. It helps to introduce some order, e.g. lets us find the lures we are interested in while browsing through large angling catalogues. “Rollie&Helen’s Musky Shop” in Wisconsin, the USA

(www.muskyshop.com), may serve as a good example. However, what is more important is the fact that names of lure families provide us with information on the optimal fishing methods to be used for these lures. So if we know to which family a given lure is included by the manufacturer, we have a hint on how to fish with it.

The biggest and also the most popular groups (which, incidentally, best deserve the name of “wobbler”) are Crankbaits and Twitchbaits. These groups are very similar, the distinction line between them is rather conventional, and their most characteristic feature is a lip placed in a front part of the lure. Both groups have floating, sinking and suspending versions.

Crankbaits

Crankbaits are the lures of compact shape. They come in various types of lip size and design. It differentiates the large family of crankbaits into a few smaller groups with various applications and determines the lure’s action The bigger the lip, the deeper the lure goes. Crankbaits’ action is very strong and can be felt at the rod very well. As a result, fishing with crankbaits is relatively easy and does not require much effort from the angler. As it is hinted in the name itself, all we have to do to achieve good results is to “crank it back” – monotonously retrieve the line. Of course, even in case of simple-to-use crankbaits, we have quite a set of tricks at our disposal if we want to improve their effectiveness. First; make pauses while retrieving. Depending on the type of lure (floating or sinking), the lure will either go down or up to the surface. This is the simplest and at the same time one of the most effective spinning techniques. Also, which is very strange, one of the least applied in practice (making a pause for a cigarette does not count!). Other techniques include various kinds of pulling and jerking with the rod and reel in order to eliminate backlash immediately. Still, the most effective method for crankbaits turns out to be classic, monotonous retrieving. For this reason they are the most popular lure used in trolling. Looking at the rod tip, you can always see if everything is ok at the other end of equipment or if you are dragging a piece of weed.

Twitchbaits

The basic difference between crankbaits and twitchbaits lies in the proportion of trunks to lips. Twitchbaits are mostly the lures of classic, slim shape equipped with a small lip. Such design affects the lure’s action to a great extent; most twitchbaits’ action is barely felt at the rod. In extreme cases the action involves only a slight action sideways, which is almost invisible. In some situations this kind of action is the most effective. Nevertheless, these are very rare cases. Monotonous, fast retrieving of small twitchbaits is usually the best method when fishing for asp, for example. But many anglers, when using twichbaits, apply the same method in all situations and in this way miss all the great possibilities of this lure. Properly retrieved, this lure is in most cases more much effective than even the best crankbait. The optimal fishing method is rendered in the lure’s name. The verb “to twitch” gives a very good idea of what the lure should do to trigger predatory fish action; it should jump sideways and quiver, pretending a sick or wounded fish – an easy prey. We will achieve such effect when the rod and reel work in synchronicity. Jerks and pulls should be done with the rod tip at the depth where we intend to fish. Depending on the depth we fish, we can retrieve the lure keeping it just under the surface, even pull it across the surface (the rod tip up and short jerks). Due to their small lips, twitchbaits are not deep runners. They are usually used for fishing at the depth of 0.5 – 2 m. However, practice shows that they may catch interest of a big predator hidden at the depth of 4 – 5 metres!

Jerkbaits

group of lures has been winning more and more fans (if not fanatics) in all the countries of the Continent. Coming probably from the USA, these lipless wobbles invaded the European markets about 10 years ago. At first, they were very expensive toys individually imported from the USA. A breakthrough was made in 2000 by Salmo from Poland, which was the first European lures manufacturer to include jerbaits, called Jack and Fatso, into their offer. Jack and Fatso quickly won recognition among the European anglers. They were different from the American designs in their realistic finishing and … affordable price. It quickly turned out that also predators appreciated the lures’ great design. As a result, just the year the products were launched, there were queues of anglers at the Dutch shops waiting to buy the Polish jerkbaits! As a follow-up to the success, Salmo introduced two more jerkbaits- Warrior and Slider. Now, all these jerkbaits are classics in their group. This market trend was also spotted by other companies and nowadays every respectable shop has an impressive collection of these lures.

Why are they different from other lures? Is it true that they attract bigger fish? Isn’t this confusion just a result of some clever marketing strategy? Jerkbaits constitute a large group of lures. Some of them are so easy to handle that it is difficult to mishandle them! Others, especially the classic models, are the lures you have to learn to like, and first lessons should be best taken under the tutelage of an experienced colleague. They share a few features, though. Firstly, they do not have lips. Secondly, they require the angler’s inventiveness. So called classic jerkbaits are an extreme example; without certain knowledge it is practically impossible to catch anything with these lures. Finally, to know their power and take pleasure from fishing it is necessary to use casting equipment. It is essential particularly with large jerkbaits – weighing more than 45 g.

Classic jerkbaits

have mentioned above, these artificial lures are most difficult to handle. They demand concentration and inventiveness from the angler. They should be guided very actively with both the rod and the reel. In this way, thanks to subsequent jerks, pulls and pauses, we build the working profile of our jerk, similar to a sawing blade. As these lures do not give any water drag, it is very easy to lose one’s attention and to have backlash on the line after a strong jerk. Needless to say that if a bite happens in this very moment, it is impossible to strike it. That is why, it is so important to eliminate any backlash on the line. Classic jerkbaits are difficult lures. It takes time to get to like them. It also takes some effort to learn how to use them. But they are worth it. The trophy pikes caught with these lures, one after another, every year, in places considered to be fisheries for small fish, are the best proof.

Another group of jerkbaits are the so called -

Pullbaits

As, again, it is suggested by the lure’s name, we handle this type of jerkbaits a little more delicately than “classics”. “Pulling” is about moving the rod tip, without unnecessary speeding. Depending on the situation (angler’s position, depth of the fishery), we make moves with the rod tip down towards the water or upwards. Despite not having lips, pullbaits can wobble and make other moves, even while monotonous retrieving. However, usually the most effective technique is to pull the rod tip steadily at the same time eliminating backlash on the line. Good sinking pullbaits beautifully “dance” sideways when sinking. Making a long pause, during which the lure is going down can be a deadly effective method for catching the autumn pikes.

A very special group of jerkbaits are -

Gliders

adventure with jerkbaits, gliders should definitely be your first choice. Once more the name perfectly describes the action of these lures. After every jerk they tend to glide alternately to the right and to the left as if hypnotizing predatory fish. Fishing with gliders is so pleasant and engrossing that it is fun in its own right. Additionally, these lures are incredibly effective. It applies to pike, zander, brass and actually all the other predatory fish including sea species. Gliders, like most jerkbaits have floating and sinking versions. The best among them present the unique feature of wobbling sideways during short pauses between the jerks. It is especially useful for hunting the lazy and drowsy predators. When using a sinking type of glider, it is good to wait even a few seconds (depending on the depth of the fishery). The lure is slowly sinking; shimmering delicately (the line is tight!). Hardly any pike can resist it. Floating gliders can be greatly used for fishing in thick reeds or just above the field of standing weed, guiding them slowly across the water surface. You will never forget the bites you are going to have!

It is also worth mentioning that practically all pullbaits and gliders are well suitable for trolling. You just have to keep the rod in your hand, moving your wrist from time to time to induce the lure to do more action.

The following groups of lures are “the toys” for special assignments. The first one is known as

Surface lures

 

difficult to guess why the lures from this family keep gaining popularity. The possibility to see the predator’s catch, not accidentally, but every time, is a quality which other lures and fishing techniques cannot offer. Therefore the method gains supporters every year, who try to master the art of surface fishing. There are a few types of surface lures, but they all have common features. First of all, all of them float, partially sticking out from the surface. The lure which is submerged only to a small degree is not always better. Truly, it is usually easier to guide and observe. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult to carry out a successful jerk with such a lure. The deeper in the water floats the lure, the more effective the jerk is.

The second common feature is the significant noise which they can produce when jerked on the surface. In spite of what many anglers think, it not always the right thing to do. The abilities of leading the lure quietly and loudly should be equally mastered.

Third, jerking the biting fish effectively is quite difficult, regardless of a surface lure type. It is all about suppressing the instinct of jerking at the sight of a catching fish. The basic rule says that one should meet all symptoms of fish interest, such as eddies, waves or splashes with calm and continue retrieving. The signal to jerk is the noticeable weight of the fish on the rod.

The most important types of surface lures are:

  •  stickbaits or surface gliders
  • propbaits or propellers
  • poppers

Each of those families requires slightly different fishing techniques. And so -

Stickbaits

 

Or, in other words, surface gliders, are easy to recognize, as their shape resembles a plain stick. They are guided like normal gliders. While jerking the rod tip one can guide the lure in a zigzag move on the surface. From a distance it looks a bit like a swimming snake. Americans call such an action “walking the dog”. As dogs go, some like to tack and scent widely and slowly, others, on the contrary, quickly and aggressively. Basically, such are the techniques of stickbait fishing. As usual, adjusting the technique to the preferences of the fish is the best solution. One day they will attack objects which move slowly, stately and with pauses. Another day they will go mad at the sight of a quickly and violently moving lure. As with other lures, good coordination of the rod and reel actions is the key to success.

Propbaits

 

Or propellers, are surface lures which contain a usually metal turbine or propeller. The task of this addition is to cause water turbulence, of course, in order to attract the attention of the predators. There are a few fishing techniques with these lures. The basic ones are: retrieving the line with short pauses, guiding the lure with sharp jerks or a combination of the two techniques. Some propellers are guided on the surface all the time, some should submerge for a second with a short jerk of the rod tip. The lure gathers small air bubbles on the propeller blades after every pull, which form a shimmering trail after it while the lure surfaces.

Poppers

hese lures have a hollow in the front part of the body. They are named after the specific sound this hollow makes while being filed with water after every pull. There are several fishing techniques in this for poppers as well. The basic one is a series of short pulls, separated by one second pauses. Another one involves much stronger pulling. The water pushed out by the lure splashes far and the pauses between the subsequent series are longer. It all depends on how the fish react. Usually a sharper, more violent pulls are required if you want to lure the fish out of deeper water. It is always worth experimenting to find the optimal technique, which suits the predators on a particular day.

The last family of lures which should be discussed are -

Vertical lures

These lures, used for vertical work, were probably invented for fishing under ice. However, they can well be used for fishing under an anchored boat or while drifting. There are many kinds of vertical lures, which are essentially similar to one another. However, the one existing family of vertical wobblers is worth mentioning. It is the Chubby Darter made by Salmo. There are many lures, which divert to the sides from the perpendicular while sinking. The further the lure can float away from the perpendicular, the bigger the diameter of the penetrated column of water. However, Salmo Chubby Darter is unique, because it wiggles like a true wobbler during these side “forays”. Of course, its luring power is far greater than the power of lures which sink motionlessly.

Unfortunately, the uncharacteristic action of the lure leads to problems with noticing a catch. The most classic fishing technique with Chubby Darter consists of three stages. The first one is the lifting of the lure (5 – 50 cm). The second one is the sinking, on a practically loose line. Then the rod tip is lowered towards the water level to the starting position. The third stage is the wait for the lure to return to a position vertically under the rod tip. Chubby Darter works delicately until it stops. Most catches take place during the third stage. However, many happen during the second stage as well, when the line is almost completely loose. Therefore, catch indicators prove to be extremely helpful with small Chubby Darters. Other fishing techniques with this lure are modifications of the one described above. For example a few short “jumps” up and a long sinking, or a series of delicate “jumps” in one place. In the case of the largest model of the Salmo Darter family no indicators are required. The action of the Giant Chubby Darter, weighing almost 100g, is easily palpable even during the sinking stage.

 

Summary

In these few sentences I tried to provide you with the most important information about the basic artificial lure fishing techniques. A large novel could be written about every one of the mentioned families. However, the experience you gain yourself during your fishing expeditions will always be the most important and precious of all.

Piotr Piskorski

 

GENERAL REMARKS ON THE CHOICE AND GUIDING OF ARTIFICIAL LURES

Remember that the rod is used not only for casting and jerking. By manoeuvring the tip it is possible to guide the lure through various layers of water and change its track. Moreover, it is possible to add great variety of movements to its actions and increase its effectiveness.

  • If you want the lure to float near the surface
  • use a floating version of the lure
  • choose a shallow runner version
  • lift the rod tip high
  •  reel the line in faster
  •  guide the lure with short, aggressive jerks, which will not allow it to dive deeper

 

If you want your lure to reach the maximal depth planned by the manufacturer -

  •  do not exaggerate with line thickness – the thicker the line the more shallow the lure dives
  • guide the lure with slight pulls of the rod
  • keep the rod aimed toward the water
  • Learn to coordinate the work of the rod and reel in order to increase your effectiveness. The right and left hand should work independently of one another.
  • Always try to choose the shortest possible rod that will fulfil its task. The longer the rod you are fishing with, the more quickly you will become tired and you will fish less and less effectively as a result.
  • If you are fishing with a sinking lure, use it. Let it sink, but remember that a lot of catches take place during the sinking. Keep your concentration and control the sinking with a blocked line.
  • Do not choose the lures too often. It is better to spend some time testing and mastering the fishing technique with a single lure than waste time on continually changing lures.
  • Carry out the first tests of every new lure on shallow and clear water. This way you will learn its basic characteristics and notice how it reacts to the movement of the rod.
  • If you do not know the fishery, fish from a boat with even the simplest echo sounder. If you are fishing from the shore, try to be aware at what depth your lure is at every moment.
  • When the light changes, experiment with lure colours. It is good to have one’s favourite lures in at least two colours – natural and vivid ( e.g. Green Tiger ).
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