Modern lure fishing with its difficult-sounding techniques and strange names can seem complicated from the outside. This doesn't mean it's not effective!
I fish with lures regularly but my confidence had always rested on livebaiting. My feelings were that you couldn’t beat a natural baitfish perfectly presented in front of a predator; therefore, I always thought of using lures as a secondary method… until I met Danny Parkins! Danny is 27 years old and has been lure fishing since the age of 10. As a schoolboy, he quickly took to casting spinners and plugs for pike and perch on the Tiverton Canal, where his house backs onto. These days Danny’s lure expertise extends well beyond the Tiverton – you could say a cut above – because he fishes both freshwater and saltwater for anything hard fighting that’s likely to fall for an artificial offering. Danny had been boasting that 2lb-plus perch were easier to catch on 5in softbaits than natural baits, so I met up with him to make him prove it and, for the record, he did. Since then, I have fished all manner of freshwater and saltwater venues with him – boat and shore for all predatory species and he’s out fished my livebait every time!
All I can say is that I’m shocked at how deadly modern lures can be if used confidently and correctly. Danny, his Sakura Mazzera 7g to 21g lure rod and his box of expensive Japanese imitations have astounded me many times, particularly when we travelled to Ireland for a week’s fishing. However, if you’re still sceptical that lures could be as good as – and even better than natural bait, then check this out!
Danny and I were booked for a wrecking trip out of Valentia, on Ireland’s remote west coast, with skipper Nealie Lyne aboard ‘Mary Frances’. However, when the skipper joined us at the breakfast table he told us that the trip was cancelled. When we arrived the wind was already blowing a good Force 4 to 5 and by the morning it was howling Force 6 to 7 with horizontal rain! So, I asked him if he could take us to do any other fishing, even if it was inshore, and that’s how we ended up in the shelter of Valentia Harbour, fishing for bull huss and thornbacks using traditional bait methods.
With a big rolling swell, gusts to 35mph and rain that hurt, it was pretty uncomfortable and was made all the more intolerable when we couldn’t raise a bite, apart from one small huss and two doggies. This wasn’t the skipper’s fault; it was just one of those days. But, at about midday, Danny changed our luck. We were fishing an area of sand close to a reef that was 30 to 40 feet from the stern of the boat in shallow water when Danny got his lure rod out and started to rig up. He claimed he would catch a wrasse off the back of the boat using a Savage Gear Cannibal shad mounted on a 15g Decoy Football jig. Twitch twitch, wind, twitch twitch… BANG – a 3lb pollack slammed the lure. Consecutive casts then produced more pollack of 4lb, 3lb, a couple of one two-pounders, a five pounder and this was shortly followed by a 3lb ballan wrasse. On the next cast Danny even surprised himself with a huge ballan of 1oz under 6lb, setting a new boat record!
On an even higher note, Danny talked the skipper into hauling anchor later in the day around a crop of inshore headlands for some drifts – and that’s when the fun really started. First pollack in the 3lb to 6lb weight bracket were landed, then a drift around a navigation buoy resulted in a massive smash-up before a monster pollack was boated, taking the scales down to exactly 11lb. This was all on a day when conditions were against us and conventional livebaits and deadbaits weren’t working. An 11lb pollack might not be a monster by offshore standards, but come on – this was off a buoy in the middle of a harbour. Now, can you tell me that lure fishing is a secondary method?
I have to say that Danny not only convinced me that modern lures are as effective as livebaits – but they’re actually better on days when the fishing is tough going. It would seem that the provocative way a lure (be it a softbait or hardbait) can be worked will actually irritate and trigger a take from a fish that otherwise wouldn’t have bothered. Add the fact that modern lure fishing is light tackle oriented, sporting, conservation minded and has a fresh and funky image, and it’s right up my street – I’m hooked!
Modern lure fishing with its difficult-sounding techniques, and strange names, can seem complicated from the outside. This is all about unravelling and simplifying some of those methods as I learn them myself.
To kick off the tuition side of things, I thought I’d start by producing a brief glossary of modern lure fishing techniques and terminology.