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The challenge is finding what fish attack and where

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The following is one angler's opinion, bias, belief, mantra - call it what you will, but it works for me and others of the same mind.

Location of fish determines what to use and how to use it (or presentation). 

The area you can cover with is one of the most valuable assets a lure has. Because let's face it,  lures ultimately find the fish you will catch! Sonar is great, but when used in weedy shallow water, the only thing it's good for is displaying depth, bottom hardness/type,  structure, GPS (if available), water temperature and fish symbols beneath the boat. So the lures you chose and how you use them can make or break an outing because fish can be mighty picky when it comes to what they are provoked to attack.

(BTW, fish don't think lures are something to eat. Far from it. Lures are unnatural in all aspects.  Lures don't move nor look like anything that ever lived yet they provoke strikes. It is possible fish attack a lure to eat it though not having a clue what it's supposed to represent via a lure's motion, color and shape. Real prey is a known sense-wise as in the case where catfish follow scent trails and bass see crawfish antennae moving subtly as well as those of  a minnow's gills and mouth. Fish senses recognize the real thing vs. a lure which is a mystery waiting to be bit/sampled. Lures may actually annoy fish into striking, especially those that move constantly in one spot.

When it comes to lure types, sizes and color in combinations, the sky's the limit - but only if you know what fish will strike on the days you're fishing and the specific water fished. Some lures are more versatile than others and can be fished in most waters and in most months; some not so much. The angler must discover which lures work in a water and can rely on them in the future. For example, in most waters I fish for bass, I've found that a skirted jig & soft plastic trailer at the top of the list followed by a Texas rigged worm. I've also done well using spinnerbaits for bass in lakes and small rivers and ball head jigs rigged with soft plastic lures.

When it comes to line, I strongly suggest braid above all others. Reasons: no line memory or line twist that causes reel or rod line tangles; better strike sensitivity at a long distance as long as the line is kept moderately tight and you watch your line; it casts light lures a long distance; is smaller in diameter in comparison to its lb. test (e.g.8 lb test = 2 lb diameter as compared to mono); is abrasion resistant; does not hamper lure action nor distract attention fish from the lure; works even with a spincast reel (in fact better). (BTW my choice is Kastking braid in 8lb test for finesse lures and 10# test for heavier lures.)

When it comes to lure choice, lures are a design/combination of size, action, shape, material used to make them and color. Even same type lures (crankbaits or soft plastics) are hugely different per the combination mentioned. In my case, I make many of my own lures and constantly try to discover those that work in most waters. The only thing I've never made are crankbaits, but yes to all others. When you use various lures, you can't help but discover which work best or least. Fishing media (TV and magazines) information has becomes irrelevant because much of it is misinformation and sponsored and limited in value as to what fish bite, when and why. Why fish bite lures is key and never based on what a fish thinks vs what it senses.

As a modifier of lures and a tester of them, I've learned many lessons that have proves and disproved much of what I believed in the past regarding the variables of lure based combinations. For example. One day I decided to make and test a white skirted jig and use a white pork from trailer behind it. That jig caught the largest bass of the day: a 4 lb fish. I've tied different colored skirts to spinnerbaits and caught smallmouth bass on all of them. I recently decided to try using black soft plastic lures in a lake loaded with green algae for reasons of lure contrast and did well catching 5 species. Before that I always used lighter translucent colors and did fine, but not so in that water color.

Fish don't have much in the way of a brain. That said, they must rely on their senses to track moving objects - speed, motion, direction, vibration (picked up by the lateral line) and also the visual element once a lure moves closer. Note: night fishing on a cloudy moonless night for bass proves that color is not always relevant whereas other lure elements are. Most important to consider is that lures stick out to fish and they contrast with its environment. In order for fish to strike, lures may be either move slow and subtle or in-their-face as far as color, flash, action/ vibration and size - all key parts of a combination (just like that of a lock). 

How lures are presented is an important part of that combination:

 Retrieve speed and type of retrieve matters - ALWAYSwhen it comes to each lure type used. Many lures can be used the same way at varying depths or in the same cover but many can't. Try using a crankbait with treble hooks in weeds that grow near the surface.

If you want to catch more fish regardless of size, small soft plastics are the best IMO. Sky's the limit as to which soft plastic lures catch fish though there are many that rarely get hit. A fishing buddy for example used a red body/ chartreuse tail Crappie Magnet grub all day and caught all species and caught as many fish as the ten lures I tested. Close to 180 fish were caught that day.  Here are examples of those I used:

Black grub with curl tail and one rigged with a spinner blade (note fish species caught and different colors used):


A worm/grub formed using a thin paddle tail attached to a grub body:



A yellow pearl Trout Magnet grub tail was attached to a worm body segment:



A Crappie Magnet tail was attached to a grub body:


Two grub bodies were joined together:


All of the above proves that when size, color, shape and action is right, many lures are capable of getting strikes. The one lure that fell short was a Sassy Shad and for a few reasons. Most important was that fish would not chase a lure of that shape using a steady retrieve, whereas the spinner and grub combo did - even when trolled. Buoyant crankbaits wouldn't have worked because the weed pockets were too small in order to get the lure down deep enough, plus the steady retrieve necessary was a negative for that shape and action.

Something to consider when choosing lures and various ways to use them - the above on a very short list of many other lures that would have worked that day. 



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