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Fishing lure choice

EARLY morning on a local creek in is always a great time to be on the water. Broughton Creek is a tributary of the Shoalhaven River and runs up well past the trendy town of Berry on the NSW south coast. Greg Stevens and I had launched his TABS 460 near the entrance of Broughton and planned to fish the top of a run in tide and then the run out. The target was bream, estuary perch and bass and we both had our proven plastics tied on. I had a Hurricane 75mm Sprat in gold on a 1/20th ounce head and Greg had a Powerbait 3” Minnow in Motor Oil on a 1/16th ounce head. After fifteen minutes things were looking good. The tide was gently running in, the water was a good colour and 18 degrees. The barometer was sitting at 1020 and we had a bit of cloud cover. The only thing we didn’t have was a follow or a hook up.

As we approached a great looking snag, Greg decided to change lures based on a hunch. He went over to a Hurricane 85mm Hybrid Sprat in Super Oil UV on a hidden weight No1 jig head due to the water colour. First cast and he was on to a solid EP that gave 40cm a nudge. We both knew
straight away that fish was no luke. I went over to the same plastic and we both caught a few more fish on the run up tide. We both changed lures several times over the rest of the day and caught bass, bream and a small mulloway. Not all the lure changes worked that day but most did as the conditions changed on our creek journey of several kilometres. On our trip home we dropped into a local tackle shop to buy a few bits and pieces and as I perused a 30 metre wall of lure selections, the idea for this article dawned on me.

We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to lure selection these days. No matter what your chosen fishing style, there are literally hundreds of lures on the market to suit. Most anglers don’t realise that they actually have two lure choices to make and both are crucial. The first is in the tackle shop or online when purchasing a new lure. Don’t waste that decision by buying on impulse or brand hype. It’s your hard earned dollars being spent so take the time to consider and think before just buying something you like the look of. I try and limit my lure selections these days to a handful in each style that I know work and suit my fishing styles. I’m now old enough to know that buying a lure that just looks good or is in the bargain bin is not necessarily the best option.

I also fish a lot of UV coloured plastics that change colour in the water and under sunlight.

Now that decision is out of the way, it’s time to decide what lure to tie on out on the water. This gets tricky here because there are so many forms of lure fishing. It ranges from gamefish trolling to topwater tuna to breakwall mulloway to estuary bream, flathead and bass. You’ve got kingfish jigging and snapper on plastics. Add in Murray cod, lake trout and impoundment barra and you’re talking thousands of different lures and selection options. Covering all the lure options is impossible here so we’re going to look at the various factors that need to be considered when choosing a lure. One important point I’d like to make is try and avoid pre-selecting lures the night or week before a fishing session. I’ve often got lures on rods from the previous trip but I rarely change them in anticipation of the next trip. Doing that means you’re selecting a lure based on an assumption or choosing a colour that you favour or “think” may work. I always select my lure of choice out on the water when I’ve had a chance to evaluate several factors.

These factors will include water colour, depth and temperature, any tidal movement, cloud cover, barometer, presence of any bait or food source, what the sounder is showing, target species and type water being fished. These factors should decide what type of lure, colour, size, weight, shape and hook arrangement you select to tie on. The worst thing you can do is just fish your favourite lure or colour and wonder why you don’t hook a fish for 3 hours when conditions look perfect. Another bad move is to change lures every 10 minutes when the one you have
on doesn’t get eaten. I purposely avoid having favourite lures or colours. This is usually very
detrimental to getting results on the water. Yes, I have a few lures and colours that I know work well in certain conditions but they rarely get tied on just because I like fishing them. Nearly all of my lure selections are based on the above prevailing conditions on each particular day.

So how does it all work? My personal preference these days is for more natural lure colours. I much prefer to put a natural copy of the available food source in front a fish because that’s what I think they’re looking for. I’ve never seen a chartreuse mullet or a bright orange prawn. I’ll usually match the water colour with my lure colour. In other words a green or motor oil lure in green water and a brown toned lure in brown water but a natural colour on a light leader in clear water. I do occasionally fish a few brighter colours under certain conditions. The pink ProLure Clone Prawn is a good example. I also fish a lot of UV coloured plastics that change colour in the water and under sunlight. I’m a huge fan of matching the hatch with lures and flies. It stands to reason that fishing a lightly weighted prawn or mullet plastic over the flats in summer is going to look pretty natural. So is fishing a yellow and brown 6 inch plastic around yakka schools when targeting snapper. Same goes for lure size. Replicate the available food source on the day whether it be with a hard body, plastic, popper, vibe or skirted lure.


Get the shape right also by using a lure that is the shape and size of the baitfish or food source.

Hook arrangement and connection point is critical in some situations and should be a big consideration in lure selection. I’m a big fan of prawn plastics rigged on hidden weight jig heads or weedless hooks. The hidden weight allows the prawn to sink horizontally as opposed to head down with a jig head. The weedless hook set up allows me to fish around shallow weed beds and snags without having to worry about getting fouled up. Get it right and you can slowly sink a plastic down into a snag where fish will be lurking. Take the time to study your soft plastics. Some sink slowly and some actually float so rig them accordingly with the correct weight suited to water depth. Hook size is also important. Too small or too big won’t help your hook up rate so match the hook or treble to the lure. I end up changing nearly all of the hooks on lures I buy. They’re usually either too big, too small or nor strong enough for my liking. Have a good look at your lures and change the hooks if you think they could be better.

Weight is another important area where many anglers fail to understand the basics. Lure weight is a factor in casting distance, sink rate and action. Get it right and you’ll get good distance and put the lure at the depth you want to fish. Too heavy will often impede the action and have the lure on the bottom. Too light will have it up too high, especially if there is current or tidal flow. Give some thought to what you want the lure to do. If you’re whipping for flathead in deep water you’ll need a 3/8th ounce jig head to get it down to where the fish are. If you’re chasing snapper with plastics then you really want to prolong the sink rate by going for 1/6th or 1⁄4 of an ounce head. Depth is also a major factor when fishing hard bodies or trolling diving lures. Select a lure that dives to the depth required. Putting any lure in front of fish will get a lot more eats than being too shallow or too deep or having the wrong sink rate.

Lure presentation also needs to be considered here. In my world that obviously covers where you cast to but also adding scent and your leader set up.

Lure presentation also needs to be considered here. In my world that obviously covers where you cast to but also adding scent and your leader set up. Get that lure in the right spot every time if you want to hook fish. When fishing snags this is vitally important. Start a few feet out from the snag to give yourself a better chance of pulling that barra, bream or bass out. If no eats, then put one right in there but understand the risks of hooking the snag or getting dusted up. I’m a big fan of scent and use it on many of my lures, especially soft plastics. In my experience it makes a big difference and

will get more eats. Having the right leader is also critical to lure presentation. I’ll go as light as I can get away with every time and only use quality fluorocarbon. My go to leader to lure knot is a Four Turn Uni but if a Loop Knot gets a lure working better by all means use one. Never fish a lure without first seeing what it looks like in the water. How it sinks or dives and, most importantly, how it swims.

If I’ve got one takeaway about lure selection it would have to be limit yourself to a handful of lures that you know work and you feel confident using. These days I’m very hesitant to buy a new lure or colour that I’ve never used before just because someone says it’s the flavour of the week. I don’t have favourite lures or colours but rather a limited selection that I know work for me and where I fish.

I select one of those based on the conditions for each specific day or location. Yes, I change lures regularly, but only if I’m confident the change is necessary and will produce
a better result taking particular factors
into consideration.

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