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Understanding Lures: Odds & Ends

There are so many different types of lures available on the market that it was never going to be possible to cover them all in these short columns.  However, I have chosen a final group of really useful lures that have the potential to add significantly to your fishing tally.

While there are many lures that carry the name “jig”, the type I will talk about here are deepwater jigs. As my description suggests, these lures are intended to target fish that live in the very deep reefs or seamounts in the blue water.  They are intended for use at depths of 30 to more than 100 meters.  That requires some serious jigging effort!  However, the variety, size and peculiarity of some of these fish make this form of fishing both interesting and challenging.

Some forms of slugs or slices can also double up as jigs but specialised deepwater jigs are different.  The design features of deepwater jigs are all about how the lure looks when it is sinking, the rate at which it sinks, the action it has when it is being retrieved (or jigged) and means by which it can hook and stay connected to anything that bites it.

The ability to get the lure down to such extreme depths is not just determined by the lure but more part of an entire fishing system which includes thin, strong lines and heavy duty rods and reels designed to handle the size of the fish that have to be dragged up such great distances.  However, as far as the lures are concerned, they simply need to be dense enough and streamlined enough and able to “cut” through the water to get to the desired depths efficiently.  This becomes particularly important when there is current.  Some do so by simply plummeting straight down whilst other have a definite action on the way down (some are quite radical).

Most ordinary jigs will feature a treble or single hook mounted at the tail of the lure.  Specialist deepwater jigs, however, will often have a single hook fitted at the head of the jig.  This hook is usually referred to as an “assist hook” and often attached via a short but heavy length of cord or wire.  The theory behind this is that the head mounted single hook significantly reduces the chances of the lure getting snagged when the lure finally reaches the bottom as well as providing a better hook up rate and higher rate of staying hooked once a fish attacks, especially head strikes.  Treble hooks can have a tendency to work against each other, especially when combined with a very heavy lure.  This in turn can cause them to work loose and fall out.

Jigs vary greatly in size and weight and it does take some experience on the water to determine which size or weight lure will suit the conditions on the day.

Spinnerbaits are one of more bizarre lures on the market.  Originating from the US bass market these lures offer a deadly combination of noise, movement and colour.  They consist of a weighted head and hook arrangement, much like a soft plastic jig head, with a skirt of rubber tassels attached to it.   From the jig head is a wire “coat hanger” type assembly where the eye of the hook would be.  Hanging from the top end of the “hanger” are blades usually attached to some kind of swivel.  The line attaches to the elbow of the coat hanger.

The weight of the head keeps the spinnerbait tracking vertically with the hook pointing upwards while the blades spin on the swivels.  The upward riding hook makes them reasonably snag resistant, the skirt creates a lot of body and colour to the lure and the blades create lots of flash, noise and movement.

Blades come in a range of shapes including almost circular (Colorado), tear drop (Indiana or French) and long and narrow like a stretched out gridiron football (Willow Leaf).  The different shapes each have different levels of resistance in the water and therefore are better suited to different retrieve scenarios.  Generally speaking, the narrower the blade the better suited to faster retrieves.  The better the attachment system of the blade to the lure, e.g. via a good quality swivel, the better the blade performance.  Good blade systems should be rotating while the lure is sinking.

So, while they don’t actually look like any living creature, they are a very sensibly designed lure that can be fished through a range of fishing scenarios from shallow, deep, fast or slow waters.  These are a very versatile lure that has more applications than Aussie anglers have presently given them credit for.  I virtually always pack spinnerbaits for my overseas adventures.

Devil/Cobra lures
Another family of lures that bear no physical resemblance to any living thing are what I refer to as the “Devil” lures, after the brand name Tassie Devil.  There are only a limited number of manufacturers who produce these lures with the only other brand name I am familiar with being the “Cobra” range.  They are basically a lead tube encased in hard plastic resin with a set of plastic “wings” on either side that are usually transparent.  The lead tube is usually bent slightly, which creates the action.  In many ways these lures are similar to a spoon in that the bent shape and wings impart a similar action to a spoon, being a wide wobble.  However, the clear plastic wings give the lure a slim baitfish profile with the wide wobbling action of a spoon.

They can be used for a wide variety of applications although they are most commonly used for trout fishing.  Regardless of which species you are chasing they can be either cast or trolled.  However, they work their best when being used at surprisingly slow speeds.  In some cases, anglers feel that this is too slow for such a heavy lure and speed up their trolling or retrieve speed.  Like spoons, Devils and Cobras are not intended to spin, just sway from side to side.  If the lure spins it is not working as intended and will also cause line twist.  Test the lure in the water to determine the most appropriate speed before commencing spinning or trolling.

They usually come pre-rigged with a central wire insert and treble hook.  Most serious trout fishers replace with by using a mono trace and either one or two single hooks for better hook holding.

If you want to know more about lures, how to use them related useful information, check out “The Book of Lures” by Ron Calcutt and Tim Simpson or you can check out an array of informative online videos.

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