Avid freshwater angler Adam Royter last month touched on why hard-bodied lures work so well on trout. This month, he looks at different styles and the key accessories you need to make fishing hard-bodied lures come together.
That strange, clear bit of plastic poking out the front of your lure is called the bib. The bib is what gives your lure a specific swimming action and also makes it dive to a particular depth. But there’s a ‘Catch 22’ with this bib and how it works. It’s designed to catch water and deflect it exactly 50% to the left and 50% to the right. This is where the ‘wobble’ or swim action comes from. Lures are weighted and tuned to this bib position and the tow point (where you tie your line to). Some bibs are small and others are big. The size of the bib determines lure action but more so diving depth. If you wind and troll a hard-bodied lure with a large bib too fast, it will ‘blow out’. That is to say it will do a barrel roll in the water and more than likely pop up to the surface, tangle and give you grief. That’s because there’s too much water hitting the bib, upsetting the balance point of left and right. So with that in mind, there are places and water types, retrieves and boat speeds that can make or break your day’s fishing, depending on the lure you choose. Let’s look at them and see what they all do and where best to fish them. Bibless: As the name suggests, this lure has no bib out the front but utilises the top of its head do deflect water in the same way as a bib. Because the tow point is in the middle of its back, what is in front of that point has the same abilities as a bib. These lures are great for making a lot of noise because they’re full of steel and brass shot. This also makes them sink fast and cast long in a stiff wind. They can also be trolled to great effect. Jerk Bait/Shallow Diver: This design covers the most space on the tackle shop wall. It has in its ranks the most popular trout lure ever – the Rapala CD series. These are called jerk baits because one of the best ways to use them is to ‘jerk’ the rod tip whilst winding the handle. This imparts an erratic, darting action to the lure, making it look like it’s fleeing or injured. Jerk baits are also easy to run in fast water without blowing out because of their small bib size. This means you can fish them down and across in a river or with the main motor whilst trolling in a lake. Medium Diver: The medium diver has considerable value to both the river angler and the lake angler. This lure has a medium- sized bib and is suitable for medium to slow retrieves. On average, they’ll dive to around 1 to 1.5 metres. This means that they can swim down into a depression or hole in a river or be worked around cover in a lake. Because of the depth they dive, you can expect them to catch those larger than average ‘sleeper’ trout that only come out of their holes in the wee small hours! They can also be trolled using only an auxiliary or electric motor. Deep Diver: Deep divers are the least fished of the bunch but are well worth having in your kit. What they excel at is getting down into the living room of the fish and shaking things up. Imagine someone crashed your lounge room at 9:30pm on a Wednesday night. You be upset enough to start biting things! Same goes for the trout. If they are sulking and on the bottom, a slow moving, rattling, food-sized lure might just do the trick when nothing else will. They can turn your day right around!
Not all rods are good hard-bodied lure rods. Most people these days are using braided lines and these lines have no stretch at all. Using low stretch braid brings some fantastic advantages, such as longer casts, better hook setting, excellent bite detection, structure identification and a better strength to diameter ratio. We are always looking for an edge in our gear and rods are no different. Carbon has been the mainstay for rod manufacturers for 20 years or more because 72 New Zealand Fishing News February 2019 carbon rods offer better abilities than their fibreglass counterparts. But here’s the crux – trout love to jump out of the water when they’re hooked. It’s their natural instinct. What you’ll find quite often is that when they do jump, the lure comes flying out and the fish is gone! The reason this happens is because everything in the system is too direct and too tight. The line has no stretch and the rod is very stiff and unforgiving. When they jump and shake their heads the power of you pulling against the fish goes on and off in very quick succession. This ‘on and off’ business creates mini shockwaves that travel up and down the line, helping to ‘kick’ the lure out of a fish’s mouth. It happens a lot, but some anglers either don’t register it is happening or they simply put it down to bad luck.
Find a slower-actioned carbon spinning rod. Rods come in ‘actions’ as well as lengths and line classes. These rods are more often than not 7-feet long, and longer. You want the action of the rod to flex through the mid- section. Fast and extra-fast action rods only flex in the last third to last quarter of the blank and are not ideal for this style of fishing. Another thing you can do is revert back to nylon fishing line. This is known as ‘fishing straight through’. ‘Straight through’ as in the line goes from the lure, straight through to the reel – no leader, which means no braid! Lastly you can use a really long leader of three to five metres on your braided lines. This is quite difficult to handle at times as the knot being wound on the reel spool can create casting tangles.
Having good terminal tackle on hand is what makes you an efficient angler. One of the things I grown to love in the last few years are micro-snaps. These tiny little snaps are just the thing for a fast lure change. The thing about them is they are so small and so strong that they don’t disable your lure’s action by overweighting it and their tensile strength is upwards of 6kg.
Swapping out your treble hooks for single lure hooks does two things: 1. It enables a more positive hold on your fish once hooked 2. It’s four times less likely to injure a fish’s eye than a flailing middle treble hook. Pliers and scissors are the only other tools I can’t go without. Pliers have a range of uses when fishing, but aside from rigging, they’re also an excellent tool for releasing fish. Using a set of pliers rather than your hands to remove hooks allows you to release the fish while it’s still in the water without choking it half to death wrestling out the hooks. They can also help to re-tune your lure so it swims straight. Scissors are a necessity, because as you get older, the teeth you use to bite through line become pegs and braid is really hard to chew through... If only one thing was learnt here, then my job is done – yet again. I’ll be back soon with my tips and tricks – you can count on it!
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