Angler's Mail assistant editor, Richard Holroyd, offers advice on making fishing lures more attractive.
MY DAD first introduced me to the merits of using soft plastic fishing lures during a cod fishing session way back when I was a teenager.
We began the session anchored up baiting with squid and lugworm – usually a great bait combination for cod – but couldn’t muster a bite. It was then my Dad decided to change tack and started to drift over the mark we were fishing with shads and we proceeded to catch cod after cod.
I’d learned a couple of lessons that day – you can cover a lot of water quickly when fishing with lures and they are incredible at catching fish.
Some of my biggest specimen fish, be it cod, pike, bass, perch or pollack, have been caught on soft plastic lures, and over the years I have experimented with them to give them maximum appeal.
Here are some tricks that have helped me catch a number of species, even smoothhound!
Jelly worms are one of my all-time favourite lures and I like to adapt them for extra appeal. The addition of a spinner blade, beads and sequins adds extra flash in the water to catch the eye of predators – great for perch, pollack or bass.
The addition of boody beads at the head of the lure adds sound and vibration. I also like to add booby beads on the trace when using bait for predators in flowing water. The rattle given off by the encased ball bearings send out noise and vibration into the water. I also like to insert small glass rattle beads and add googly eyes you find in craft shops onto lures for the same reason.
When bites aren’t forthcoming or if they water clarity is not ideal, one trick is to add bait to the lures. By doing this, you are not only offering a visual attraction but also adding scent in to the water.
I’ve had success with cod, for instance, when baiting muppets with squid. I’ve also caught more mackerel by adding a slither of mackerel to a string of feathers. I’ve also added bait to shads for extra appeal.
I once had a spell of experimenting with imitation crabs with little success and I came to the conclusion that, although they looked like the real thing, they had little smell. It was then that I adapted one by attaching some foam soaked with crab oil and managed to catch a smoothhound within minutes of casting out. I reckon a similarly adapted crayfish imitation would work well for coarse species including chub, perch and carp.
A string of lures (muppets, feathers or shrimp) are effective simply because fishing with more than one lure at a time can increase your odds of catching. It’s not only sea anglers that like to use more than one lure – trout anglers often fish a team of flies, so they can cover different depths of water to entice bites.
Rather than tying a lead on the end of a string of lures, I often use a weighted lure like a shad or pirk. Fished correctly the set-up should imitate a small fish attacking small fry and I’ve had lots of success in the past catching bass and cod.
I reckon a string of lures would work wonders for pike and perch, but I’m led to believe that bylaws prohibit the use of them.
Size and colour
The size and colour of lures are incredibly important. Bass often rejected 6 inch redgills but quite readily accepted smaller 4 inch ones of the same colour. On other days, they will take a preference to the 6 inch versions.
There are definitely days when fish prefer one colour. Pollack, for instance, will often show a preference to a particular firetail jelly worm colour from one day to the next.
Whatever fish you are targeting it is always wise to take a selection of sizes and colours in different patterns to see what they prefer on the day.