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Old 10-19-15, 12:01 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Hudson Valley, N.Y.
Posts: 716
Default What makes a lure one that keeps on catching?

I've made some of my own lures for quite some time which include attaching skirts on jigs and spinnerbaits, pouring soft plastic lures, tying feather or fur to jigs, making in-line spinners and so on. I continue to read what I consider nonsense why fish bite various lures, most of which claims that fish decide a lure is a forage animal at eat it for whatever reason - hunger being at the top.

Folks, when it comes to why fish bite lures, I have to rely on a fish's senses for lure detection and the spark of aggression a lure sets off in its tiny brain. All of the speculation I've read or watched on the tube I leave to those who believe in fairy tales and superstition. Let's get one factoid out of the way: the media is not interested in accuracy or the truth (like most politicians) but in selling stuff whether it be magazines (BassMaster) or products (Roland Martin and Bill Dance). Because a pro angler is quoted in a magazine doesn't make his claims true such as what lures to use in certain situations.

Funny though, I've designed a soft bait (not for sale) that I've used for the last four months and caught over 700 fish of different species and my partner around that amount using the same lure.

A few things to remember:
1. lure design depends on presentation to attract and provoke strikes. You don't burn a plastic worm over the bottom and in fact, you don't move any bait too fast regardless of design. Finesse techniques and lures have been used more often in recent year by pro anglers to win tournaments. Finesse always means slow. Finesse baits are designed to maximize their attractive features at a slow retrieve - one that is rarely steady.

2. Many lure designs incorporate features that shine at very slow retrieves.

3. Fish much of the time are in a neutral (non-school-bust'n) state, suspended somewhere over the bottom.

Predator fish in general are opportunists - if something passes near enough, it investigates using its mouth. Was the reason for the strike hunger or its snack time? Was it hate (Homer Circle used to say fish hate egg eaters and attack them)? Was it time to gorge in order to build up a fat layer into winter (ya know, like bears do)? Or was it something completely generic as relates to specific lure attributes having nothing to do with any of the b.s. we've been fed for decades?

Okay, so let's see what actually works for the lure design mentioned and not just for one or two species, but for many freshwater species caught from spring until now.

1. size - the lure is anywhere from 2-3" is size depending on the bite. Finicky fish sometimes need a smaller lure as in smaller length and profile.
2. the thin flat tail flutters at the slowest speed - even at dead stop! If anything, this feature is key to the amazing amount of strikes.
3. the lure is versatile, meaning it can be used with different slow presentations, vertically or horizontally.

Was color important? Yes and no. Lure color and flash are components that make a lure noticeable and like the thin tail, possibly annoying to a fish. Even a clear plastic minnow works as long as it has a small bit of glitter within the plastic. (Sure, your gonna say it represents fish scales to a fish and I say, since when has a fish told you what it believes something is? Is it capable of deductive reasoning at any level?)

Bright colors are the most annoying to a fish and will cause strikes, but only as long as fish are in a state of reacting to those colors.) They include super bright fluorescent colors and bright white. Subtle translucent colors and flash or no flash can also be intriguing to a fish. I have my favorites, but will never assume all work on any day.

Today I fished a pond loaded with big yellow perch and sunfish. If the fish missed being hooked on the first cast, it got another chance on the second cast. The spark of aggression caused by lure characteristics made it impossible to resist the lure on the second pass and it got hooked. The fish was minding its own business and then this thing shimmies and shines past its head, challenging it with its trespass.

Different shapes were used - body and/or tail. Most caught fish, some better than others on the same presentation. That tells me that on any given day, the little things matter. A lure has it or it doesn't and if you find one that shines, you tend to stay with it. In my case I try to think of things the lure had that might have made it work so well and incorporate those things in other lures I make. For example, rather than use a flat tail, I would make a thin prong tail attached to the same body design. (It worked well BTW.) I've recently discovered lures for sale on-line that are similar in design to my own and I'm sure work for the same reasons. (Great minds think alike!)

So, if you catch fish on a particular lure, contemplate the lure characteristics that mattered most and not what fish thought the thing was before it hit it.

Thin flat tail grub used all year:

and my own design poured - no mold:

Last edited by senkosam; 10-19-15 at 12:07 AM.
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