How to

Fine Tune Your Lures

Fishing School

Most modern lures work well straight out of the box but there are little tweaks that can be made to increase their effectiveness. 

IN the giant winter-long special issue of Fisho, well-known fishing writer Adam Royter produced an interesting feature called “Pimp Your Lure”. It involved adding colour, contrast and flash to lures to increase their effectiveness. In this month’s Fishing School, we’re going to expand on Adam’s ideas.

For the most part, additional colour markings are added to increase the level of contrast in a lure. The greater the areas of contrast, or, more accurately, the more obvious the area of contrast, the more likely it is that a fish will zone in on the markings and strike. Some of the more common markings include vertical bars down the flanks of your lure, large black or dark spots on the flanks of your lure or large “eye” type markings known as “spotted dog”. These are a large light coloured dot with a smaller darker coloured dot in its centre. Have a read of Adam’s article in the June winter-long issue to learn the best way to add these colours and contrasts most effectively.

Other modifications you can make to lures include more hardware-orientated alterations. Probably the most simple, common and often important thing you can do is to change or upgrade your hooks and possibly your spilt rings too. Many lures made overseas are simply not suited to the demands of our Australian fisheries. Hooks are too light or just poor quality and bend or break under the load of even modest battles. Many overseas lures that are used for tropical sportfishing in the Top End will almost certainly require hook and ring upgrades. Locally made lures generally come fitted with the highest quality hooks and rings. Also, quality lure brands like Storm and Rapala have developed beefed-up ranges of lures specifically for the Aussie market.

It’s not always the durability of lure terminals that require attention. Often the hooks on commercial lures can be significantly improved by replacing them with some high-grade ultra sharp hooks, like the VMC Spark Point trebles. These super sharp hooks can make a huge difference to hook-up rates.

Many high-end lures, both overseas and Aussie, now come with high-end fittings so no modifications are necessary but it is worth noting though that some pretty inexpensive lures catch plenty of fish too. A small investment in upgrading hooks and rings will see them catching more quality fish, sometimes matching or exceeding lures of three times their value.

As mentioned before, it isn’t always about changing the quality of the hooks on your lures. Sometimes it can be about configuration. Tassie Devil lures are a great example of this. Out of the packet they come fitted with an internal wire frame that is inserted into the lure. The hook is attached to one end and an eyelet poking out the other end is used to tie the line on. While this works OK, it can be a problem when thrashing trout use the lure’s weight to their advantage and roll the hooks out. For years, trout devotees have dispensed with the factory hook arrangement and replaced it with a trace system. A short length of around 40cms of six or eight kilo mono is tied to a size 14 mini swivel. It has to be this small so it can be threaded through the inside of the lure.  At the other end a plastic bead is slid onto the trace. Your hook arrangement is optional. Many anglers simply attach a high quality, chemically sharpened treble. Others use one or two single hooks attached to a split ring and tie the split ring to the trace. The single hooks are intended to provide a better hook hold and greater gape for to take hold.

I’ve also been experimenting with my small estuary poppers like those intended for bream and whiting. I often noticed the fish would swirl right underneath the lure, looking to me like they are mouthing at it but not actually swallowing it. I’ve been removing the centre treble from the popper and attaching a small size 12 chemically sharpened single hook via a very short length of mono. I only use about 1.5 to 2cm of line but that’s just enough to expose the hook to a fish that is interested in mouthing a lure rather than actively striking at it. To date, the system has worked but is only in its very early stages. I intend to also try using micro trebles and knottable wire to attach the hooks as I have had small tailor snip off plenty of hooks.

In next month’s Fishing School we’ll cover how to alter the performance of some of your lures to potentially increase their effectiveness and hopefully entice the fish to bite.

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