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Top 10 Bream Lures Part 1

This thought-provoking article details some of the reasons we buy the lures we buy and also touches on trends that may influence our buying patterns, especially in relation to the fickle bream market. KEVIN SAVVAS reports.

FISHING is an interesting pastime. In some respects it’s very much a microcosm of enterprise business: you have to work hard to get results by paying attention to detail while devising effective strategies to “lure” in business. A lot of these strategies revolve around targeted marketing campaigns to increase awareness and popularity of various products. This is highlighted implicitly with how trends and fads are adopted and absorbed into the mainstream. I have an infatuation with popular culture and trends, which probably stems from my many years in sales and marketing. It’s always interesting to see how big advertising budgets are used to educate consumers, either consciously or subconsciously, and how this education process filtered into sales.

These days the playing field has shifted. Popular culture is no longer defined solely by big advertising budgets. Instead a subversive approach is happening which typifies how information is spread in today’s society. Now we often hear how things go “viral”. What this means is an organic spreading of information like a virus across electronic media. Usually if something has gone viral it means it has gained momentum by being passed on either by email or other social networking sites like You Tube or internet forums and thus become popular. This has had a massive impact on sales of day-to-day consumables but I have a hunch this trend has also filtered down to the tackle industry.

So how does all this relate to a bream lure countdown you ask? Good question.

I recently undertook a large poll of anglers from all bream fishing states and territories. The aim was to uncover if public opinion was still shaped by large advertising spends or if social media is having the same impact on fishing trends and fads that we’re seeing in other consumer-driven industries. I did this under the guise of a standard poll called “Australia’s Top 10 Bream Lures”. This was the logical place to start as the bream movement in this country is a prime example of what I am talking about. Keen bream fishos are quick to adopt any new lures or techniques. Must-have lures change so quick that a month in the wilderness will see you left behind. While change is rapid, trends usually follow suit. The trick here was deceiving the voters to think I was interested in finding out the best bream-catching lure in the country when in fact I wanted to find out the “most favoured” lure. This piece is more about the perception rather than the reality.

Critical Insights
I polled more than 220 anglers for this research and the one irrefutable fact I uncovered is that opinions are like arseholes – everyone’s got one. I tallied 187 different types of bream lures that fishos ranked in their top 10, not including colour preferences or sizes. That is almost one unique lure per fisherman. This says two things. The first is that there is no one correct way to target bream with lures. Everyone has different ways of working and none of them are intrinsically more correct than the other. The second aspect that I can deduce is most lures catch fish. If nearly 200 lures are ranked as top bream catchers, how many didn’t make the list that still catch bream? What the results did show was a vote of confidence for a specific set of lures – thus the top 10. At the end of the day, confidence keeps the lure tied on the end of your line longer. The more confident you are in a lure, the longer you persist with it, meaning the more fish it catches you. It’s a simple philosophy.

The real question that needs to be asked, though, is what creates this confidence in the first place? The answer to this is exactly what I want to uncover. Is it crafty marketing that we buy into or is it sheer weight of information from our peers? The correct answer is probably a bit of both. It seemed the less experienced anglers polled were more susceptible to marketing hype. This was seen by the homogenised lists that didn’t stray far from the popular or well publicised styles. It makes sense as the quest for information for a beginner is usually gathered from all mediums of which advertising is a powerful contributor. I know within myself I spend days reading any new catalogues that get distributed, especially ones attached to mags!

In more dedicated or experienced circles, bream anglers polled had a far greater scope of selection. Lists had a good cross-section of different styles of lures and from niche, lesser known manufacturers. This indicates that these anglers are exposed to lures by their peers rather than in mainstream media.

In fact, I had a tough time with this lot. Bream fishos are protective of their sport, and, to be quite honest, some are a little too precious. I was quizzed to the validity of my research because I didn’t ask other questions such as the type of bream people fish for, the time of year, experience levels, whether they fish from a boat or are shore-based and if they fish deep or shallow. These variables, while all good recommendations, would be difficult to tabulate and mould into any logical report. Besides, it wasn’t the stuff I wanted to uncover.

I found experienced fishos had difficulty narrowing down the selection to “just” 10 lures. It was interesting to see how people reacted and how interested they were to see what their peers had selected, and in what order. The bream guns were shown
to be very competitive.

One result of the poll showed a tendency for participants of internet forums to share common lures, especially if they were based from the same state. Also, it was evident that bream fishos have contrasting opinions on what they consider to be the best lures. For example, Victorian and WA-based anglers have a penchant for hard-body lures, NSW anglers have a strong preference for soft plastics while anglers in Queensland are showing a tendency for blades. While this is a sweeping generalisation based on a small subset of fishos, it was a hard trend to ignore. Online communities like forums tend to group people with similar interests together, meaning the information that gets passed around reinforces specific attitudes and preferences of that particular area or region. This is partly why each state showed trends for a particular style of lure and empirical evidence of social conditioning.

Another result demonstrated how advanced bream luring has become. In the top 10 ranked lures, there was a mix of soft plastics, hard-bods, vibes and topwater lures. Also included in the broader list were flies. This indicates that bream fishos are willing to try and adopt new techniques. If this was a poll performed five years ago, I guarantee that the entire list would have been soft plastics such as Atomic 2” Fat Grubs and Ecogear Paramaxs. Go back 10 years and the list would have been older hard-bodies such as McGrath’s Attacks and RMG Scorpions. Such is the nature of popularity.

However, the current scene has changed dramatically. The range of popular bream lures now is wide and varied. If you look in any bream fisho’s box not only will you see a smattering of old performers but also a selection of the current bream killers.
The results of the poll indicated this as well. People just couldn’t leave out their killer lures of years past, but how often do we make it to our fifth, sixth or seventh favourite lure in the box? Not very often I would suggest, even on the toughest days, but it seems fishos have long memories.

Not to state the bleedingly obvious, but the major trends are usually set by tournament pros. They get opportunities to play with new lures long before we ever hear of them. I make it my business to know about new lures that catch fish, but I came across a few that I had never heard of. In fact, some lures polled were still in the prototype stage and not in production so they received minimal scores, meaning you won’t hear about them. It’ll be interesting to see what these new lures will do to results if we readdress this again in a year’s time. If my mail is correct, look out for advancements in the sinking stick minnow range and hard-bods that aren’t so hard! 

Popular Brands & Styles
Can anyone guess what the most popular lure style was? If you answered “hard-bodies” you’d be correct. I must admit this was a surprise. I thought plastics still reigned supreme. I was wrong! Out of the 187 different lures ranked, 85 were hard-bodies, 56 were soft plastics, 23 were vibes, 17 were topwater and six were flies.

So let’s quiz you again. Can you guess which of the manufacturers had the most lures represented in the list? Impressively, the global powerhouse and marketing machine that is Berkley (Pure Fishing) was the most dominant player in the poll. Berkley had 16 different styles of lures ranked, equating to nearly 9 per cent of the total lures polled. Other impressive results were Ecogear with 12, Atomic and Smith both on 10 and Lucky Craft with nine lures. Ecogear, Smith and Lucky Craft are premium Japanese lure brands with high price tags, but this didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the die-hard brigade. This indicates that price is not the key motivator for buying a lure, as long as it’s effective. In saying that, a few bargain bin lures made the list as well.

For those thinking they can enter the market with cheap knock-offs from China, breamin’ is a highly competitive market, which is highlighted by the 68 different manufacturers that were tallied.

Next Issue
While I won’t give anything specific away till you read Part II in the March issue, I will ask you to join the dots, so to speak. Have a good look next issue at what people rated as their favourite bream lures and ask yourself who has the power and resources to convince you their lures are the best of the best. In a nutshell, the results of the poll shows that clever marketing still plays an influential role in regards to the lures we buy, however electronic media is becoming increasingly influential.

Make sure you get hold of next month’s Fisho to find out which lures made the top 10 favourite bream weapons in the country. I’m sure the results will raise more than a few eyebrows.

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