Getting to Grips with
Salt Water Fishing Lures
Not only do todays salt water fishing lures look and move like the real thing, some actually feel and smell fishy too. Small wonder then, that many sea anglers are turning to lure fishing techniques instead of fishing with natural bait - and catching more fish as a result.
If youre a yachtsman sailing offshore the odds are youll probably not have a fridge load of fresh bait on board just in case the mood to wet a line takes you. For you, lures are definitely the way to go.
But, be warned! Salt water fishing lures are eminently collectable a fact recognised by some manufacturers who produce salt water fishing lures far more likely to catch anglers than fish. But if you follow the recommendations made in these pages, youll be gently steered well clear of them.
A decent lure, properly deployed, will deceive the most wary of fish - but left motionless the same lure is unlikely to be viewed with anything other than total disdain or mild amusement by its intended client. Essentially, it has to be made to move about a bit to give it some, er, allure.
And there are three main ways of achieving this:~
- By towing the lure astern of a moving boat, under sail or power a technique known as trolling, or
- By working the lure from a drifting or anchored boat jig fishing or jigging as its known, or
- By casting and working the lure with a rod and reel spinning or baitcasting.
Most salt water fishing lures will have been optimised to best suit one of these applications, although some do have a multi-role capability. For example, some trolling lures works equally well as casting lures - and vice versa - and some jigging lures will catch fish when trolled astern or cast from the shore. Lets take a brief look at them in turn for the further information I hope youre looking for, just click on the links.
There are thousands, quite literally, of different trolling lures on the market. But thankfully these salt water fishing lures all fall into one of several different categories. For example:~
Often used as teasers
and in conjunction with daisy chains
and spreader bars
, these are the mainstay of the trolling fishermans lure collection. They range from small 75mm long versions suitable for inshore trolling, and huge 500mm long versions used by big game anglers trolling offshore for billfish and giant tuna.
Successful trolling with skirted lures depends to a large degree on the lure's ability to produce a good bubble trail, the intensity of which is governed by the size and shape of the lure head - and to a lesser extent, the lure skirt material.
Skirts, whilst soon damaged in use, are cheap and easy to replace.
Also known as tuna feathers, they're not as selective as this alternative name would suggest. Not just tuna, but dorado are more than a little partial to them too - as are kingfish, wahoo and barracuda.
Hard Fishing Plugs
Made of either hardwood or hard plastic, these salt water fishing lures are made to resemble baitfish. Also known as crankbait lures
, they come in two guises - deep diving crankbaits and lipless crankbaits.
Some fishing plugs
are designed to operate on the surface, whilst others are capable of running sub-surface at depths of up to 30ft.
Unlike skirted lures and plugs, these steel trolling lures are virtually indestructible in normal use. Trolling spoons
are best trolled deep and slow, where their flashes and vibrations will bring up fish from greater depths. The enormous shoe-sized Bunker Spoons are firm favourites of American anglers trolling for the prized striped bass.
These lifelike imitations of baitfish
are fished not far below the surface, often astern of spreader bars trailing similar decoys. Popular offshore designs include ballyhoo, mackerel and mullet. Inshore, imitation sandeels or joeys (small mackerel) are likely to be the most productive lure when trolling for the Atlantic Seabass that frequent our European shores.
Click Here to see an Impressive Selection of Offshore Trolling Lures ...
How do you identify a jigging lure? Well, if it's not immediately obvious that it's intended solely
for either trolling or casting, then the odds are that it's a jig. As definitions go, I know that this one's something of a cop-out, but it's the best I can do. And it's not made any easier when some jigs double-up as trolling lures and others will catch fish after fish when cast from the shore. And it's this versatility which makes them 'must have' lures in any angler's collection of salt water fishing lures.
So, following on from my miserable attempt to define them collectively, let's sort them into groups and look at these saltwater jigs in turn.
Deep Drop Jigs
Also known as 'pirks', these shiny metal jigs are must be hydrodynamically efficient if they are to perform as intended.
A Williamson Abyss Speed Jig
Used on their own, or at the end of a string of snooded lighter jigs, they're a firm favourite of anglers fishing deep wreck and reef marks.
If you've only one salt water fishing lure in your tackle box, make sure it's a bucktail jig ...
These weighted or unweighted shrimp and prawn impersonators
are irresistible to squid and cuttlefish - and a special metal version will fool the supposedly intelligent octopus.
These plastic lures, much like miniature plastic squid lures, are best rigged on short snoods - like this ...
Shads and Jellyworms
These unweighted soft-plastic lures
are best rigged on snoods in the same way as muppets above, on a flying collar rig - or simply twitched slowly over the seabed imitating the irregular movement of a wounded fish.
These weighted soft-plastic lures
can be used at the end of a vertical jig rig as an alternative to a pirk, although they won't sink as quickly. They can also be fished on the drift with a flying collar rig or again, simply twitched slowly over the seabed.
A strange name for what is effectively nothing more than a string of shrimp lures, but no angler should ever find himself without a pack or two of these in his tackle bag.
There's a degree of job-swapping capability between some casting lures and trolling lures. Casting plugs in particular can be used for slow-speed trolling, although I wouldn't risk those with the long-casting internals or suspending types.
Spinners too, work well at low trolling speeds, the small ones being irresistible to mackerel.
And no bass worth his salt will turn his nose up at a slowly trolled Toby spoon.
Spinners and Spoons
Spinners are small metal casting lures usually sporting a treble hook, and create flashes and vibrations as a blade spins at high speed around a central shaft.
Spoons, on the other hand are designed to wobble and flutter rather than rotate like a spinner.
Plugs and Crankbaits
Plugs are constructed of either wood or plastic. Some types topwater lures are designed to operate on the surface, others sink and operate sub-surface, whilst others crankbait float until theyre retrieved when they dive below the surface.
Some are jointed, others are one-piece, and some even have internal magnets and steel balls to assist long-distance casting.
Suspending lures, which neither sink nor float but stay at a constant depth, can be deadly when in the right hands.
As mentioned earlier, crankbait lures come in two guises - deep diving crankbaits and lipless crankbaits.
Used with saltwater fly fishing tackle, these salt water fishing lures are either of conventional fly tying design, or tube flies. Either way, theyre intended to resemble small fish not, like some of their freshwater relatives, flies.
Making Your Own Lures
A growing number of anglers are turning their hand to making lures of their own design. What could be more satisfying than catching a good fish on a lure you've designed and assembled yourself?