Lure fishing, in its many incarnations, is one of the most exciting ways to fish. As with all forms of fishing, there are a lot of tips and tricks to making yourself a successful lure angler. In the hands of a skilled fisherman lures will out-shine bait in many situations and provide the added satisfaction of knowing you have fooled the fish into taking an artificial.
Lure fishing can be done in the surf, off the rocks, out of a boat, in freshwater, and offshore in blue water. Lure fishing can be as simple as carrying one very basic lure that is fit for a very specific purpose, or it can involve having a huge range of lures in a tackle box, with multiple outfits for specialist lure-fishing techniques. Fishing an artificial is very clean, and lures are always ready to go. You can pick up an outfit, a few lures, and be off fishing. No worries about finding bait at a tackle store in the early hours of the morning.
But, without doubt, the best thing about lure fishing is the satisfaction you get when it all comes together. This article is written to be a guide to lure fishing, not an encyclopedia, because the topic is so diverse.
It’s fair to say that most lure fishing starts out as some form of spinning – casting and retrieving a lure. The humble kahawai is often targeted on lures due to its schooling nature and aggressive surface feeding. But even kahawai can prove challenging on lures when they are selectively feeding on certain prey items.
Most fish can be tempted with lures with the more predatory species being the most commonly caught on them. However, species like john dory, gurnard and trevally can be targeted with the right technique.
There is not one all-purpose outfit that will suit all forms of lure fishing but in most situations the key factor is that the rod can cast the lures you are using. The line-weight plays a big part in proceedings too and needs to be matched to a reel with sufficient line capacity and suitable drag to handle the fish you are targeting.
Some happy marriages are a light two-metre rod with a size 2000-3000 reel loaded with 4kg mono or PE 0.5 braid. This should be suitable for trout spinning and light tackle salt-water casting work.
Scaling up from this would be a 2.5m-plus medium-actioned rod with a 4000-5000-sized reel loaded with 8kg mono or PE 1-2 braid. This rig could be used for heavier metal lures, small poppers, and casting hard-body lures.
For a monster-stopper, a heavyactioned 2.5m long rod matched with a size 6000-8000 reel and PE 5-7 braid would be great for big poppers, stick-baits and heavy metal lures. Note this is all casting gear not aimed at the more specialised deep-jigging lure techniques. Don’t be put off if you have not got the perfect gear; if the situation is right, give it a go.
The nice thing about lure fishing is that you can put a few lures in a tackle box and set off hunting fish, but you will need a few other bits of tackle as well. I like to carry a couple of weights of leader material, depending on the area and species I am targeting. Fluorocarbon is a great material as it is less visible to fish. My rule of thumb is to use the lightest practical weight. You will also need a line cutter with split-ring pliers and some clips, split rings and spare hooks for re-rigging.
There are thousands of lure types, but some of the most basic models are still proven fish catchers; well-known models and colours are well-known for a reason. You should use lures that suit the sort of situation you are fishing, imitate the sort of prey that your quarry will be chasing in both colour and size, and try and judge the lure’s action.
Some lures will have very little action and will hold well in the water, which means they can be retrieved at high speed, while other lures may have a strong, erratic action at slow speed, but might pop out of the water at pace.
Sink rate also plays huge part of a lures effectiveness; things like the weight of the jig head on a soft-bait can make all the difference between success and failure when lure fishing.
It would be hard to categorise all lures, as some can be used in different ways to target different fish. A classic example of this is the metal jig. They come in various sizes and weights and can be used for everything from casting in the surf to deep-jigging in hundreds of metres of water.
Rather than try and categorise each lure type, the important thing to get right is to fish your chosen lure in the right place at the right time with the right action.
A good example of this is spinning for kahawai at a river mouth. Usually the fish will come in chasing prey as the tide rises and will be very active at this time. Lures often need to be cast quite a distance and retrieved at a fair pace. The standard metal wobbler (hex wobbler or ’kahawai spinner’) is ideal for this sort of fishing.
But if you were targeting snapper in a few metres of water, this lure would not be as successful as either a lightlyweighted soft-bait or small diving minnow that could be worked slowly with an enticing action and held in the strike-zone for long periods.
The decision of where and when to lure-fish can be dictated by the presence of feeding fish or when blind-fishing an area where they congregate.
Another common lure-fishing scenario is to cast poppers and stick-baits around structures, as this is quite often where kingfish are found. Likely structures may be wharves, marker buoys or even schooling baitfish. Merely blind casting in the middle of the ocean with a stick-bait or popper would lead to minimal success, just lots of casting practice.
When lure-fishing a likely area, try varying the casting pattern so that you cover the area efficiently. Make each cast in a different direction from the last and vary the depth and speed of retrieve until you find one that works. Always try and keep your rod low to the water, not raised high. This helps you set the hook when you do get a strike.
When rigging lures, vary the hook arrangement to help maximise hook-ups. I prefer a large single hook on spinners, while treble hooks are great on minnow-type lures. One thing I always try to get is maximum action from my lures and the hook arrangement can affect this. Hooks that are too big will choke down the lure’s action. I also like to tie my lures on with a loop knot or use a clip that allows it to swing freely and swim freely.
Lure fishing is lots of fun and whether you are stalking the shallows from shore, or targeting big kingfish on surface lures, you can’t beat that moment when you fool a fish and they hit your lure!
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