Lure Fishing - Less is More?
Kevin Perkins has been lure fishing and thinking (possibly a very dangerous combination...)
I’ve spent a bit of time lure fishing and pondering just lately (I know, the pondering part couldn’t have taken up much of my time...) and I began to wonder if we anglers don’t ‘over think’ some situations.
I’ve got into the habit of taking two rod and reel outfits with me when I go lure fishing: one ‘heavy’ and one ‘light’; the reason for this being, in my mind, so that I am able to cover as much water as possible. When I get to a swim I start with the light rod and ‘fan’ cast from left to right, and then repeat with the heavy outfit casting further out. In this way I convince myself that I have at least put a lure past anything which may be in front of me.
And there’s the first problem, which lure? At the outset I will admit to being a lure ‘tart’; I can’t go to a tackle shop and come away without buying a new one. The Plano Box I lug round when I do go fishing currently has 139 items in it. (Sad that I had to count them, perhaps worrying that there are so many, but still probably a few less than some here on FM...) But that’s actually an improvement because, until a little while ago, whenever I went fishing, I used to take two of these boxes, full to the brim with lures, and they had to be strapped to a trolley.
Now, as for me admitting that I have rationalised my travelling collection down to only 139 lures, well that just shows I am still long way off being cured of ‘luremania’. But there again, I suspect I am not alone in that and I think it comes from that little voice in your head that always seems to question your choice of lure. Confidence can overcome this, catch a fish on a particular lure and that little piece of plastic/metal becomes your bestest friend and is the first one you reach for next time you go fishing.
But what if your bestest, favouritist lure fails to produce results? Do you carry on using it because you know it has worked in the past? Or do you turn to something else to bring you success? And if so, which lure to use? And for how long do you persevere?
If you are a lure tart like me, do you run through all of your 138 other lures giving them one cast each before discarding it and moving on until something finally produces a result? I have proudly enclosed a photo of my latest ‘PB’ taken on my favourite bar spoon. As you can see it is a Nokia base station of some sort, which weighed around 4lb and with handset trailing behind it gave a very strange fight when I was reeling it in...
Back to the plot and our fluff chucking brethren use the term ‘matching the hatch’ which involves spooning a fish they have caught. They then don their entomologist’s hat in order to find a fly in their box which closely resembles what they have just found in the trout’s stomach. I’ve always had this down as a bit of a chicken and egg situation, because until you actually catch a fish, you patently won’t have been using the right fly, and if you have caught a fish, then surely you have already been using the right fly...
However, I’m not sure this will work with our predatory quarry. Putting something resembling a long handled builders trowel lashed to a short length of scaffold pole down a pike’s gullet most certainly will not reveal a diet consisting of various bits of rubber, metal and plastic in the shape of Creek Chub Pikies, Replicants and assorted spoons or spinnerbaits. So that will not be of any help at all in choosing a sure-fire, guaranteed to catch lure.
Although I do know what seems irresistibly attractive to big pike, and that is the sight of a smaller one that’s been hooked and is being brought in towards the bank. How many times have you seen the (v.v.much) bigger brother or sister of the fish you have just caught follow it in to the bank only to slink away at the last minute? I’ve never been lucky enough but I know it happens that these monsters quite often latch on to the hapless fish being reeled in so surely there is a market for a pike-imitating lure about 2½ feet long to entice these leviathans. Not sure what TC rod or BS line you would need to get it out there, though...
And if getting the lure selection right is not enough to worry about, lure anglers have another enormous hurdle to overcome and that is ‘time in the water’. It’s patently obvious to say it, but a lure is only working whilst it is in the water, and even then, only during the retrieve. Your target prey may well be thinly spaced out through the water, and thereby your lure may only be flashing past a predator for a brief second as you wind in - that’s always assuming that you are fishing at the right depth as well...
While you are casting, changing lures (frequently, if you are like me), eating a sandwich, drinking your coffee, answering a call of nature or moving to that ‘much better looking swim across the other side of the lake’...well, you ain’t fishing.
So what is the answer?
I think we need to look to the past; we seem to be endowing fish with some sort of collective intelligence when it comes to choice of baits. If your fluorescent purple and yellow spotted ‘Big-Boy Catch-EM’ floating diver caught two fish last week, do you think the underwater telegraph flashes that lure up on the piscatorial ‘WARNING - Do Not Touch’ list? Maybe you also think there is some form of piscine ‘rogues galley’ of lures pinned up on an underwater notice board telling any predators about that they had better avoid such items being dangled in front of them?
Do you imagine that at the end of the day all the little jacks settle down with their gudgeon kebabs and listen in awe while grandpa Esox frightens the bejeesus out of them with tales of just what will happen to them if they fall for these irresistible yet fiendish, artificial sirens of the deep...
Lure anglers of old seemed to manage with the most rudimentary tackle and still got results. Look through any list of pike catches in days gone by and you will see the likes of ‘plain copper/silver spoon’ mentioned time after time. If we dare to suggest that fish in general haven’t got any cleverer in the past 100 years (except carp and barbel, of course, and those particular species are so intelligent, according to those who strive to catch them, it’s a wonder they haven’t yet featured on University Challenge), then why shouldn’t the old lures work today?
Rather than constantly changing lures in the search for a guaranteed fish catcher, should we not try fishing with just ONE lure? Many years ago, no pike or perch angler would dream of setting forth without a Colorado or Kidney Spoon in their lure armoury, and nothing else. This one lure approach means you can get the maximum ‘in the water’ time. No more making a dozen or so casts then sitting on the bank pondering which lure to use next, trying something else for a few casts, and so on through the day.
And if you think using just one lure would never work may I just point you towards those seek the ‘King of Fishes’. For as long as anyone can remember, and right up to the present date, you will find that the Devon Minnow has been, and still is, the lure of choice for many salmon anglers. Now, I realise that salmon are obviously nowhere near as intelligent as pike and perch when it comes to lure choice, but it might just be worth dusting off a Colorado or Kidney Spoon and giving it a whirl.
You never know, as the pike and perch won’t have seen anything like it for years they might just think it’s something all new and, as lure that they have not ‘wised up’ to yet, you might be able to clean up for a while...