I am one of those guys that have more lures than I can count. I honestly do not know how many lures I have – and if I count the soft plastic baits with the rest of them, I would be very surprised if the number was not over 1,000.
A few guys have seen my fishing room and disorganized as it is, they can’t help but express their excitement in expletives that would make the mothers of a few sailors blush.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t need this much to catch fish – one does not need to spend a small fortune to find success in catching fish with lures – or at least not give into the addiction and buy lures you don’t really need.
Lures are Traps
Lures are traps, not just for the fish, but for the anglers as well.
Each time you buy a lure, you are filled with hope of it catching some nice fish for you. Surprisingly, you, as an angler really don’t need a lot of convincing, you convince yourself that the lure you are about to take to the counter is the lure that will catch your next trophy.
For the uninitiated, buying lures is an exercise that involves a lot of flexing from your wallet – as most of the lures you might choose won’t really work if you don’t use them properly – they will end up at the bottom of your box unused and forgotten.
Just today, I was helping someone choose the right lures for his use; it was quite an interesting conversation as the guy had clearly watched TV and was on the hunt for the same lures – the problem was that he didn’t know how to work the lures he was choosing. After our conversation, he only had three lures in his hand as opposed to about 8 before we started talking. It could have been an expensive afternoon for him and I’m sure more than half the lures he chose would have been forgotten along with many others in his tackle box – worse, he might even think the ones he bought before catching a fish on a new lure are useless bling.
Make no mistake – any lure will catch a fish given the right conditions, but you first have to know how to use them.
Making Sense of Things
Like the rods and reels sold in tackle shops, choosing the right lures is a daunting task – it might be that there’s just too much of it in front of you and that you don’t know where to start – it might be the guy in the shop following you around and watching you like a hawk – tell you what, if you don’t know exactly what you want – ask them. Even if they don’t know how to fish, most of the shop attendants know what other people buy and what they come back for, and what these lures are used to catch. That is the single most useful information you will ever need.
The first thing we need to look at is your gear – as most already know, not all rods are practical for lure fishing – I believe this is where a lot of people get discouraged – not using the right rod, reel and line will make it difficult for anyone to enjoy the joys of lure fishing. The rod, reel, line and lure need to be balanced – check your rod for the line weight – make sure it corresponds to the size of the reel and the line spooled on the reel – the manufacturers actually guide you make this process very simple – the rod is marked with a range of line weights recommended for its use, so with the reel. If you have a rod that is labelled PE0.8-2 (in the Japanese system) it means it is designed to be fished with that line range, on the same line of information on the rod, it should also tell you the corresponding casting weight the rod is designed to cast – the rod that I have with the same range indicated above would have a casting weight of 5g-15, this means that the rod is designed to cast lures up to 15g with lines of thicknesses In PE0.8 to 2.0. Your reel should also be labelled with the corresponding line measurement and it will also tell you how long of the line of a particular size can be spooled. An example would be the Shimano Exsence 3000 – on its spool, it is indicated that it can be spooled with 300 metres of PE0.8.
You can then look for lures within the range of your casting weight of 5g-15g; simple right? When in doubt, talk to the guys in the shop and ask them, they will have an idea.
The range of useful lures for this weight class is quite extensive – the next question you should ask yourself is “What fish would I want to catch?” This is because each lure is designed to track at a certain depth and are optimised to be used a certain way, some are so specific that they are designed to be most appealing to a specific fish.
You can fill a book with the names and brands of lures, each and every single one of them has the potential to catch fish. The brand and models you choose from are a matter of personal preference, there are people that choose one brand over the other for various reasons, however; one fact remains true regardless of the brand and model of lure you choose to go home with – it will not catch fish on its own, you have to tie the lure to the end of your line and cast it out.
I am not too critical about brands, however, I started my lure fishing with Rapala lures, with that in mind, I have an attachment to them and there are quite a few of their lures that make up my “confidence lures”.
On any given fishing trip, I carry a selection of a few small lure boxes – there’s one for Plugs, one for Metal Jigs and one for soft plastics with matching jig heads to use with soft plastics. With these three types, you are covered for quite a lot of fishing situations and a few species.
Plugs are fish shaped lures – they come in lipped and non-lipped versions. Usually made with either wood or plastic, these are some of the most used lures in casting and trolling. Rapala is one of the most famous brands for this type of lure – they have been producing lures since 1936 and is the world’s largest fishing lure manufacturing company – with that comes the world’s largest distribution chain and this is the reason why almost everyone’s first fishing lure is a Rapala.
For shallow water fishing around bridges and jetties, Rapala lures are some of my favourites because they are so easy to use and the finish on their lures lasts forever! Other brands may have good-looking finishes but the paint they use doesn’t really last long.
Plugs are relatively easy to use because they start working as soon as you start cranking the reel handle, even for a first timer, it is very easy to understand why plugs work – they wobble and swim just like real fish.
It is very easy to get confused with what plug to buy, even for someone that has fished with them for a long time, the impulse to buy one more is often times a very hard temptation to ignore. My rule is simple – for shallow water fishing (fishing in water 10 metres and below) I look at 76mm – 127mm lures. This is because it is the most common baitfish size and it makes sense to match what forage is available in the area.
The colours I choose are “Blue Sardine” or “Blue Mackerel”, “Red Head” and “Bone”.
Sardine and mackerel are common baitfish found around the world. The colour pattern “Red Head” is what the lure fishing industry call an attractor pattern. It doesn’t really mimic any colour in the wild, but is a proven colour pattern. Some people believe that it looks like a fish with a bloody head and is the reason why it appeals so much to fish. White is the most common baitfish colour and “Bone” is an all white lure. With one or two of these colours, you are poised for success with plugs.
Metal jigs are some of the most versatile lures you could ever use. Compared to the plug and the lead head jig, the metal jig is compact and relatively heavy for its size. The actions of the jigs have also been tuned in recent years and have become quite popular for casting in windy conditions – don’t let the size fool you, they might look small but they have been a consistent producer of pretty impressive fish caught off the rock jetties.
There are two types of metal jigs widely available – the slim jigs and the wide-bodied jigs. Slim jigs will give you the longest fluttering action of the two, while the slim profile of the other makes it easy to cast through headwinds and will give you the best distances. 20g-30g jigs are my absolute favourites and I have caught kingfish on jigs of this type.
Using them is also very easy – cast as far as you can, then let the lure hit bottom, sweep your rod up and reel in the slack line, repeat this process until the lure is close, you can then reel in and cast again.
My favourite colours are pink, blue, glow in the dark and white. One of my absolute favourite colours is orange and gold, sadly, this colour is one of the least favoured of the lot and the shops have not been stocking a lot of this colour in any lure.
Jig Heads and Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits have been around for a long time and has picked up some steam lately, up until two years before, soft plastics have been largely ignored by most of the anglers in the UAE. There were only a handful of anglers using and most kept it to themselves because of all the lures out in the world; the closest thing to using real bait is soft plastic baits! They move like the real thing, they feel like the real thing and some smell like the real thing!
Of all the lures, soft plastics are the most realistic in feel as well as in swimming motion and come in over a thousand colour variations and shapes, each designed to move exactly like their real counterparts. It is very rare to find one type of soft plastic without at least five colour variations that target even the most far-flung localities.
There are soft plastics that imitate just about anything that is found in the ocean that are commonly used for bait – from fish, crab, shrimp, octopus, worms – even clam meat! There are those that are impregnated with salt and those that come in a liquid solution that claim to have enzymes that stimulate the feeding impulse of fish.
Soft plastics on their own are light and although there are some situations where a soft plastic bait can be used with only a bare hook, the most common and practical way to rig soft plastics is via a jig head. Again, there are a lot of head variations and weights and colours – I mostly stick with unpainted heads in the 10g-20g sized heads.
For the soft plastics, I like using Berkley Gulp! In Jerkshad, H&H Baby Bullminnow and crab and shrimp imitations depending on where I’m fishing and the fish I’m after.
The idea way to fish soft plastic baits is to mimic the movements of the type of creature you are trying to imitate. The best way is to watch videos on Youtube and see exactly how a shrimp or a crab moves, then try to visualize how the lure moves after you cast it out.
As for colours, I stick with natural coloured lures most often as this has been very successful for me – pearl, white, white and blue, black and clear are prime examples.
The biggest challenge with these lures is not to get them snagged on the bottom, which is why I usually buy jig heads and soft plastic bodies in bulk. They are the lures that I mostly use when fishing a new area and are the biggest producers for me.
Using lures for the first time can be a bit daunting, but it’s a very dynamic way of fishing and from the number of fish you see on Facebook, a very consistent producer, even when the chips are down. The more you get out and fish with lures, the more confident you will be with them. Remember – They will catch fish if you put them on your line – they will stand a better chance of catching a fish if you cast them in the water than they will in your tackle box.
Till next tide change,
Words By: Kit Belen