Saltwater Lure Fishing Series - first published Irish Angler 2004
- Improve your saltwater lure fishing introduction.
- Lure and tackle choices.
- On the big blue.
I am often asked the question ‘Which lure is the best Jim?’ I always answer ‘The one which you think is the best.’ This is not Jim trying to be smart or quipping but it is often the case that an angler will feel more confident with one type or make of lure than another. He will often feel that it is the best lure available and will go to extremes to hide it from other anglers. He sometimes catches fish on this lure but there are times when he doesn’t. When he goes fishing again he fishes with the same lure, often in the same place and with the same method. He may or may not catch fish. Lets look at the range of lures available to the modern saltwater angler and why some are more popular than others.
Metal spinners or jigs like the famous Kilty lure are now famous in Ireland. Other lures in this range are the ABU krill and Toby. The renowned German bait is still often indispensable and the simple but deadly Dexter wedge is a good fish catcher. This is the range and type of lure that most saltwater anglers are familiar with, spinning for sea trout, bass, pollack and mackerel with these lures is commonplace and widespread in Ireland. Anglers use medium to heavy spinning rods of various lengths and spinning reels loaded with monofilament line. The spinners are attached to the line with a simple swivel.
The activity of ‘spinning’ is relatively straightforward when the angler is fishing over clean ground. The spinner is simply cast out and retrieved and then re-cast. Varying the speed of retrieve allows the angler to speed up or slow down the lure and hence change its position in the water ‘table’. When fishing over rough, rocky or broken ground with a metal spinner, things often become more difficult. There is often a subconscious fear that the spinner is fishing too deep and close to the rocks and the angler may be apprehensive about loosing the spinner by getting it caught. As a result the spinner will be retrieved rather quickly and higher in the water ‘table’ where fish may fail to react to it. Fish are often secure closer to the cover of rocks and weed.
In order to improve your catch rate if you are fishing with a metal spinner I would recommend that you try and fish as close to the submerged rocks as possible quite frequently during your fishing session. To avoid or at least reduce possible tackle losses reduce your treble hook to a single. If you are fishing over an area that is covered by high tide then it is often possible to retrieve lost spinners at low water. My grandfather showed me a trick I used as a young angler whilst fishing the Forlorn Point in Kilmore Co.Wexford. Take your spinner then attach your swivel, then attach about fifteen feet of 20-pound test monofilament to your mainline which should be about 12-14 pounds test, you can use a double blood or uni-knot. When you are fishing and then find you are stuck simply pull for a break after making valid attempts to free your spinner. The line will generally break at the knot. When the tide retreats its very easy to locate the ‘leader’ of heavy line which will lead you to your spinner. I once as a boy spent an entire months summer holiday bass fishing in Kilmore with two Jensen Jigs. I lost and retrieved them several times and I fished them until their coatings disappeared.
As I mentioned in part one, most angling shops have a wide stock of what I like to call Lures. These are different from the metal spoons, spinners and jigs, which we spoke about above, and they also have very different fishing methods. Some of most popular range within this ‘modern’ type of lure is Rapala, Storm and Duel. There are many others like lucky craft, Smith and Jackson too. The Rapala J13, J9 and J7 are very famous bass lures. They are often called jerk baits. The jointed body allows the lure to swim with a unique action that has been imitated by several other lure manufacturers. The main features you will notice about this type of lure are
- Its fuller profile – it has a more realistic shape, colour and form than a metal jig
- It may well have a diving vane at the front
- It may have a rattle inside and you may feel or hear objects moving inside
- It will feel light
- It will be indicated on the packaging as to whether it is a floating, or sinking lure.
Lets take a closer look at each point. The fuller profile of the Rapala type lure is different to your metal jigs. Its form suggests a ‘fishy’ presence in the water and its colour will be completely different than a spinner. The vast amounts of colours available within a lure range should not put you off and we will discuss this later. The second thing on our list is the diving vane of clear plastic situated at the front of the lure. This vane forces the lure to ‘dive’ when retrieved and it also causes eddies around the lure causing it to swim actively. The deeper the angle and the longer the vane the deeper the lure will swim, a shallow swimming lure will not have as steep an angled vane. It is important to mention that on the lure packaging the lure diving depth is often indicated.
When you are examining the lure closer you will often hear objects moving about inside. These generally serve two or three purposes. Take a storm chug bug for instance, which is a floating lure and shake it. It has a very loud and distinctive rattle that can be heard very easily. This is caused by several ball bearings inside. This rattle acts as a fish attractor. The other purpose these ball bearings serve is in casting. When the lure is suspended in the cast the ball bearings drop to the bottom of the lure. This creates a weight distribution, which is far easier to cast. With more complex lures like the Aile Magnet the distribution of weight is a key factor in maintaining the balance of the lure and hence a natural appearance when it is been fished.
On the packaging of the lure it is generally indicated as to whether the lure is a diving or suspending version. This is an important factor in your fishing decisions. By been able to make several different presentations with your lure at various depths you can fish very, very effectively. Take a Rapala J13 floater for instance. You cast the lure and it floats on top of the water, when you retrieve it, it swims and dives to its indicated depth usually one or two metres. When you stop retrieving it will return to the surface if it’s a floating version. If it’s a suspending version it will simply remain at rest moving slowly in the currents until you begin to retrieve it again. Deadly effective.
These lures will feel light in the hand when held, especially in comparison to your metal jigs. Fishing with heavy mono will not be effective for your fishing. It will restrict your ability to cast any distance and it will have adverse effects on your lures swimming action. I would suggest that you fish with a high quality monofilament of about 10-14 pounds test or if you can afford to I would strongly recommend fishing with braid. A braided line of 30 pounds test has the equivalent diameter of 8 pounds test monofilament.
If you do invest in some lures and lure fishing equipment please bear in mind the following. When using braid always purchase a good quality reel that has a slow oscillating feature. This will improve line lay and helps resist burying of the braid on the spool during retrieves. Without this feature especially with less ‘modern’ braids you will experience tangles that the devil himself would be proud of. Always attach a leader length of fluorocarbon or monofilament to the end of your braid. This should be about one metre in length and be of around 20 pounds test. Join the braid to the leader using the allbright or reverse allbright knot. This leader will ensure a number of things. Firstly the multiple hook points on your lure will not ‘pierce’ the braid and get tangled whilst tumbling through the cast. Also sometimes whilst playing or striking a fish line can be drawn across a hook barb – braid can be deteriorated by this quite quickly and show no visible signs of wear. This leader will also allow a little shock absorption (as well as your rod) as remember braid has zero stretch.
So what range do you need to carry from a beginner’s point of view? To allow effective presentation of baits and lures across the widest range to predatory fish I would recommend the following -
· Spinners and spoons
· The Kilty lure
· The ABU krill
· The ABU Toby
· Jerk Baits
· Rapala J13, J11 Floating
· Lucky craft flash minnow
· Storm thundersticks, yo zuri's or similar
· Surface Lures
· Storm chug bug
· Rapala skitter walk
Duel Aile Magnet
While colour is important I would concentrate at the beginning on buying two fishy type colours of each lure and one bright type like yellow and white or a red and white combination. You should have a compact yet comprehensive range with this selection allowing you to fish effectively for all major saltwater predatory species in Ireland. In the next issue we will address effective methods and the various techniques required to fish your lures more effectively. We will concentrate on selection; colour and how to target you preferred species.