Recent innovations in lure design and materials constitute one of the most amazing developments in the world of tackle manufacture. I am of the generation that grew up limited to kidney spoons, mackerel and Colorado spinners and jointed wooden plugs, all of which did a pretty good job at a time when predator fishing was far less popular than it is today; indeed, it is probably the availability of the revolutionary new lures that has led to increased interest in fishing with them – it has fuelled its own success. Rod and reel development, it seems to me, grew relatively slowly with incremental improvements making for gradual ‘organic’ growth, but super-duper lure-design seemed to explode onto the scene almost overnight.

The lures-of-old aroused, attracted and hooked their quarry because their appearance approximated to the sight and, to an extent, the movement of a prey fish. Attacking these alluring passers-by was – and still is – an instinctive reaction of the predator, but now we can buy jelly-shads barely discernible from the real thing and I reckon a peckish pike can take a long, hard look at one and decide that yes, that’s something I truly want to eat. Whenever I retrieve one of these wiggly-tailed beauties and have it come into view, the temptation to leap in, there and then, and seize it between my teeth is devilishly hard to resist…well, you know what I mean!

They’re just so convincing it’s almost unfair! Put it this way: whenever I find a new water and want to know if it holds pike, I’ll spend a couple of hours roving around with a lure rod and a pack of shads.

If I don’t catch or see any interest, that water is placed low down on my mental list of prospects; if a pike had been present it would, at least, have followed a lure in – they’re simply irresistible.

That reminds me…. One of the most frustrating things in the lure-angler’s life is a fish that follows the lure for as long as there is line to be reeled in i.e. until it is right under your nose. At this stage, the angler is left ‘corpsing’ and perplexed at what he can do to induce a take and he invariably resorts to ‘walking the dog’ in the most unconvincing manner – and it rarely works!

The thing to do if the water is clear and a curious pike can be seen in pursuit some way out, is to either maintain the retrieve-speed or to quickly increase it in the hope of invoking a strike. If this fails to get a reaction, stop the retrieve – be it jelly shad, chromed Colorado or any other sinking lure regardless of material – and let it flutter to the bottom. Yes, for a brief few seconds you’re legering a lump of plastic or metal, but often the pike will up-end, slowly nose-dive onto the lure and wolf it! Feel for a pick-up and if there’s resistance – hit it, but make sure your tension’s adjusted correctly; even a medium-sized fish can rocket-off and break you and to lose a big fish in this way would be tragic. The last pike I tricked with this ruse weighed 18.75lb, while my pal, well-known piker, Tony Corless, witnessed his mate bank a 27lber on ‘legered Colorado’!

As for these eel-lures you can get now…well! How does ANYTHING resist such temptation? Their mesmeric, seductive action charms not just fish out of their lairs but birds out of their trees, and I’m not joking. Twice I’ve had a heron leave its perch to waft down and inspect a Savage Real Eel, and seagull enquiries are two-a-penny. Have there been any otter hook-ups? I wouldn’t be surprised.

And how about the Fox Rage Wobble-lures and Replicants? I’d have given a testicle for a boxful of these when I was lad fishing the gravel pits of Essex. I recall as if it were yesterday the frustration of having less than convincing lures pursued by truly huge pike only to have them sheer-off and disappear. I caught plenty of fish to mid-doubles on various lures but the real monsters that occasionally showed themselves refused to be fooled. I don’t think that would happen today with something like a Replicant or a Real Eel enticing them in.

Carp rods, some Avon rods and most spinning rods are capable of lure fishing per se but to really keep in touch and impart action into the ‘new’ lures you can’t beat using a good quality braid with a decent reel on a dedicated lure-stick. The combination of a stout yet forgiving 8ft rod and non-stretch braid makes for an exciting, ‘straight-through’ experience you’ll love and there are shorter, less beefy, drop-shotting versions to make the most of the smaller predatory species. Do bone-up on the best and safest knots to use when using braid.

A recent near-4lber which took a large, tinsel ‘Christmas tree’ lure.

Cliff Hatton.

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