If, 30 years ago, Grant Dixon could have fast-forwarded three decades and checked out the contents of his current tackle bag, the response would have been, ‘what are you going to catch on those crazy-looking things?’
Having come firmly from the bait and berley brigade – I blame my late dad and grandad! – the strange metal and plastic concoctions today referred to, broadly, as lures would have had me in fits of laughter. And don’t forget the size of those teeny, weeny hooks – ‘fishing off the wharf for sprats, are we?’ would most likely have been my comment.
Following on from the lure revolution that was kicked off with metal jigs, or ‘irons’ as the Americans call them, came the rods and reels to fish them. A new line, loosely referred to as braid, forever changed how we fish. This low-stretch, extremely fine line enabled the angler to feel every bite; and, more importantly, impart subtle fish-enticing movements to the lure below, even at great depth. Now, 400g-plus jigs fished to 350 metres and beyond for the likes of hapuku, bass, and gemfish is possible with a line that has minimal water resistance.
I was first introduced to the inchiku-style jigs by tackle distributors Thompson and Walker Ltd, who were importing a line of Japanese inchikus and the specific rods and reels to fish them. Daiwa importers Brittain Wynyard and Co. Ltd were close behind with their Pirate Madai jigs. I recall Pat Langvard, who was working for the distributor then, brought some out on what we called the ‘Daiwa Day’, where we fished the new season’s product and wrote it up each year. It was in October; the snapper were schooling in the Gulf, and Pat revealed his secret. It had a strange octopus-like appearance with a round, bulbous head and thin plastic skirts. It was armed with two ‘minuscule’ assist hooks tied on Dyneema chord sitting in the skirts.
First drop, halfway to the 40-metre bottom, it was smashed; a decent snapper was hooked – and so were we! Interestingly, Pat’s lure was looking a little bedraggled with skirt strands missing, and the short assist hook traces well lacerated – due to a session the previous weekend where Pat said the lure had accounted for 40-plus snapper! Despite the war-weary look, the lure kept fishing well with minimal tail strands left.
From then on, the Japanese lure influence hit our angling addicts hard. Several NZ Fishing News writers, led by Mark Kitteridge, Sam Mossman, and others, were singing the praises of various brands. New companies such as Catch! Tackle and Ocean Angler built their businesses around lure fishing. Asian-based factories could not manufacture products fast enough and, as with game lures a few decades earlier, there was a fair bit of ‘cloning’ going on, not to mention some weird and wonderful alternative head shapes. What ever the lure designers were on to enhance their creativity, I wanted some!
Shimano’s Lucanus lures, one of the earlier options on the market, was a case in point. What the hell is that head shape meant to represent? I am not sure, but I know it works. Fishing at anchor on a Double Strike charter to the Far North in the early 2000s, we had a berley trail going in Spirits Bay. While the others were straylining baits, I prospected a wider area by casting a 60g Lucanus out and allowing it to drift behind the boat with the current – a bit like nymphing for trout! The lure was nailed by a kingfish, forcing us to pull the pick and chase it for 45 minutes, taking us through some rough ground before finally being boated 2.5nm from where we started. Both hooks were severely bent, falling out when the 19kg fish hit the deck! I am pleased to say the Lucanus hook rigs have been upgraded from the early days!
Since those ‘basic’ first lures, there have been many adaptations in size, shape - especially the heads - and enhancements, including rattles, blinking eyes, UV and fluoro coatings, and attractant dispensers, not to mention some zany paint jobs. Add a huge upgrade in hook quality and even more style and livery options, and the modern angler is spoilt for choice.
If you are just getting into lure fishing, the best thing to do is call at your local tackle store and talk to them. They are dealing with anglers most likely fishing the same grounds you want to target, so they will have the latest information on what is working and what is not.
Purchase a selection of lure types in a range of colours and weights to allow you to cover various bases – depth, current strength, and target species.
November 2022 - Grant Dixon
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited
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