Part 2 of our Lure Fishing Basics article will cover lures, retrieves and locations. We are not going to go into huge amounts of details in this article, but hopefully just enough to give you some pointers and help direct you in the right direction to catch your first fish on lures or improve your catch rates.
There are many lures on the market today, so its easy for a beginner to become overwhelmed and a bit unsure of where to start.
Soft plastics are a great option for the novice angler. They are affordable and come in a range of shapes and sizes to imitate lots of different prey items. Plastics also allow you to mix and match with a variety of weights (known as jigheads) to suit different fishing situations, and allows you to cover the entire water column.
With plastics always try and match the hatch so to speak, if you know there are small baitfish in the area use a shad or minnow style plastic, and the same for prawns, shrimp, crabs etc.
I think the best all round soft plastic is a 2-3” curl tail grub. Any of the brands will do, We have caught a host of species using this style of plastic: bream, flathead, salmon, snapper and many more.
Once you are comfortable with soft plastics, hardbody lures are calling your name. We are not going into too much detail in regards to hardbody lure choice and options as this is a huge topic, and one which we aim to cover in the future. Just remember to try and keep the same principles of matching what the fish will be eating in the area, and mix up your retrieve until you find something that works.
There is a huge range of retrieve options when it comes to lure fishing. Some lures and techniques require very specific retrieves where as others can be very versatile.
Different species will also require different retrieves, and while there is a general idea of what retrieve will work for a given species, For example, bream generally like a twitch and pause retrieve with long pauses, where as salmon love a fast constant retrieve. One day the fish might want something completely different to what they wanted the day before, so it pays to keep changing it up until you find what works on the day.
Here’s just a few of the more common retrieves:
Slow Roll – Usually performed with a low rod angle, slowly wind the lure at a consistent speed from the start of the cast to the end.
Twitch and Pause – Twitch the lure once or twice, then pause for up to 5 seconds, twitch again. Vary length of pause and amount of twitched in between pauses.
Fast Erratic Jerk – Constantly twitches to the rod tip, whilst retrieving the lures at a medium pace. Try and keep your twitches consistent in size but vary the speed and order, try 3 quick twitches followed by a single twitch, followed by two, and repeat. Can be varied significantly to suit conditions.
Lift and Drop – Quickly Lift the rod top up, from horizontal to vertical, allowing the lure to shoot off the bottom, then sink back down again.
Burn and kill – Fast wind followed by a pause, allows the lure to lift off the bottom then drop back to the bottom
Vertical Jigging – Working the lure on a vertical line, when fishing directly on top of fish.
Whats that saying? “fish where the fish are…” Easier said than done I know, but with a bit of experience, trial and error you can get better at finding fish quicker and more consistently.
3 things to look for in locations-
- Structure, this can be in the form of: rock walls, pylons, tree snags, weed beds etc. Structure offers protection and security for fish in the form of cover. Because of this fish also use these areas to feed as they provide a great habitat for all sorts of aquatic life to live which also ties into our next point.
- Food supply, There has to be food for the target species to eat. Foraging species like bream and snapper have a wider range of places to be targeted because of this, where as salmon and jewfish are generally found where the baitfish are, so find the bait, and you have a much better chance of catching the fish.
- Current (or lack of it), depending on species, some fish like a bit of current, some fish like back eddies and breaks in the current, depends on the species, but this can be a good place to target as it holds smaller bait fish out of the main current.
Another really important thing to keep in mind is to cover ground, ie move around and try and find the fish. Whether it is in a stream fishing for trout, keep walking upstream and fish as you go, the more ground you cover the more chance of finding feeding fish. Same applies for estuary fishing, keep moving around until you find the fish. Fish will move throughout the day and tide cycle, so you need to keep actively searching for where they may be.
With experience comes the ability to have a better idea of where fish will be at certain times of the day, tide and also seasonal variations. A fishing diary is a good way of recording this data for future reference, and then trends can be used to plan your next fishing trips, times and tides etc.
If you know there are fish in the area but are finding the fishing tough try:
– Downsizing your lure
– Change retrieve &/or retrieve speed
– Using a longer leader
– Using a lighter leader
– Add some scent
All or one of these things might be all it takes to help get those finicky fish to bite. Sometimes you need to make things happen, not just wait for the fish to turn on. Keep changing you lure, presentation and technique until something works and then refine it.
Hopefully these pointers will help get you out amongst the fish on a more regular basis now, and with some trial and error and thinking more about what the fish want you will become a better fisherman.