and Soft Plastics
made a start on thinning out my lure collection in part one of this series, I
am now getting to the nitty gritty of my lure collection - hard bodied wooden
and plastic lures. Firstly I'll look at jerkbaits. Seeing as almost all jerkbaits
can be divided into gliders (lures with side to side actions) and divers (up and
down baits) it is easy to see that there is a lot of duplication of action with
lures from different manufacturers. As a result I tend to think of these baits
as essentials more in generic terms than in specific models, at least as far as
the gliders are concerned. Even so there is variation in sink or rise rates, hang
times and glide width to consider - which is why I have similar looking lures
from different sources. I have more glidebaits, or near glidebaits, than any other
jerkbait type. Strange really, because when I first used jerkbaits this style
was pretty uncommon. Yet today a lot of lure anglers seem to think that all jerkbaits
work from side to side to some degree.
suspect that when I do thin the glidebaits out I will keep one or two from various
manufacturers - I have a couple of Reef Hawgs that I have tuned to perfection
as erratic gliders, a couple of Cobbs that have caught more than the others and
so on. The ones with the most teeth marks, in other words! I imagine I'll also
save a selection of Mantas, Jerkos, and some hand crafted lures to leave enough
colours in lures ranging from floating through to medium sink rates and with glide
lengths from inches to a foot or more.
it comes to shad-shaped gliders (maybe glider is the wrong term as some have a
very tight action, more akin to a walk-the-dog style) I'll probably hang on to
a couple of Darters - one in perch one in stripey bream - as these have a slower
sink rate than my other favourite tight gliders which, without a doubt, are the
fibreglass Dolphins that Graham Withers made in standard and fast sink rates.
All these fibreglass Dolphins will be retained. This will mean keeping more than
I really need, but seeing as they can no longer be replaced I need all the back
ups I can lay my hands on!
might also have to sort out the better wooden Dolphin shaped Fat Shads that I
got off Tom Jeffers. I've neglected these baits for a while now, but one of them
took a twenty on about its sixth cast. They have great actions but are heavy being
quite fat, can be poor hookers as a consequence. Being made of wood they are not
without the attendant finish problems either. On the whole I prefer plastic lures
over wooden ones, not so much because they are more consistent in action (which
they don't always manage to be), but because of the relative ease of maintenance.
guess I should really thin out the Bagley's B-Flats. This is a lure I haven't
been throwing much recently, but which I used a lot in the earlier days. Not being
a hand crafted wooden lure B-Flats vary quite a bit in action - so I bought quite
a lot to get a handful of good ones. But if you do get a good one it can be superb
for searching shallow water, or fishing in a more considered manner over the tops
of submerged weeds. The unusual roll this lure has on the glide flashes it's flat
sides to pike lying below. Chrome and foil finishes really highlight this trait
in sunny conditions. The only drawbacks with this lure are it's action - which
means pike have a habit of mistiming their strike, and the front line tie of brass
wire set into lead - which is prone to bending after you have landed a fish on
it and needs retuning. It hasn't happened to me yet, but I can see one of these
brass eyes fracturing at some point after a lot of retuning.
it comes to diving jerkbaits the Suicks and the Burts will all be hung on to,
as these are the ones I have had the most consistent success on. Again this could
simply be because I know they catch, so I persevere with them. I don't possess
many Suicks but the ones I do have have been weighted to suit my needs and have
a range of actions. All my Suicks are at their best in shallow situations as they
are floaters - but weighted to have very slow rises. Even so, by careful manipulation
you can work a weighted, but floating, Suick down in the water column, although
it will take a few yards to do this.
funny, but most people who have latched on to jerkbait fishing in recent times
don't seem to like floating lures. They are missing out on one of most important
features all jerkbait anglers should have access to - the slowly rising lure.
I'd much rather have a diving bait that rises ever so slowly than one that hangs
in the water or sinks slowly. The slow rise seems to me to be a very important
of the early jerkbaits I used were floating models, either Reef Hawgs, Suicks
or Dave Scarff's original Pigs. Many had to be worked very quickly just to keep
them under the surface, but they were devastating for catching pike that had never
seen anything like that before. Certainly as time has passed the efficacy of slow
sinking jerkbaits has become apparent, and I am sure that pike do wise up to the
necessarily faster worked floating lures, but that doesn't mean floating baits
have no place. Diving them down to tickle the weed tops on warm summer evenings
can be devastating. My Pigs will be kept as much to remember Dave Scarff and the
early days of UK jerkbait fishing as anything - I rarely throw them anymore in
case I lose one, but I am sure they will still catch pike in the right conditions
of warm water and naïve pike. Or perhaps, just perhaps, there are no pike
around that have seen this lure type these days?
original floating Pigs have a diving element to their action, but also a sideways
swing, and also (when you get it right) a bit of body roll too. Quite a unique
action and nothing at all like the Odyssey Suspending Pigs which are essentially
with the Suick, Burts might not look like they are 'doing' very much, but so long
as they are moving and stopping pike will show an interest. Now owning thirty
or so Burts might seem a prime case for a clear out, but every one of them will
be staying safely under lock and key. The thing is, even thought they are a plastic
lure, they all seem to vary a little in action, diving depth or hang time - even
just among the weighted models. I need some straight ones and some with tails,
a few of the often overlooked floaters and the rest that have been cunningly tuned.
Then there are spares in case of accidents or leaks. I might even lay my hands
on some more Burts! As they can be cast (jerked or cranked) and trolled they are
really versatile lures - with a bit of thought, practice and confidence.
might notice that some of the currently popular jerkbaits haven't been mentioned.
The main reason for this is that they probably do exactly the same job as the
baits I already have. Salmo Sliders are a favourite of many recent jerkbaiting
converts, but my Darters will do pretty much the same job for me, and the Dolphins
cover the rest of the shad shaped baits on the market. It makes me chuckle me
when I see yet another flat sided glidebait being launched. It's a prime example
of lures being made to catch lure anglers by appealing to their magpie tendencies
for collecting shiny things! Fair enough if the new lures are made in different
sizes I suppose, but I don't want smaller, and I don't want bigger. So why bother
with them? I guess Salmo Warriors and Fatsos are a bit different, but as I have
never really clicked with them I'll sling them out too.
to think of it, there is one small, plastic, jerkbait that I won't be parting
with. I suppose there are two baits really, the Lureland Hammer and Spitfire.
The Hammer is an erratic little lure, and the Spitfire, with its tail blade, is
best just cranked straight in. Not lures I use a great deal, but I usually have
one or the other in the box.
all this my jerkbait selection might end up looking a bit unimaginative - mostly
Burts and Dolphins plus a motley assortment of glidebaits, but I'll still have
enough colours to fit my needs, and more importantly enough sink or floating rates
and actions. I'll be well covered to deal with all depths from the surface to
thirty odd feet, and at all speeds I would ever want to work a jerkbait. If there
is one thing I have learned in my lure fishing it is that depth and speed control
are far more important than fancy actions that look good to us. Given that pike
have a habit of hitting lures when they are paused, all the lure does when it's
moving is make the pike aware of its presence.
my essential larger soft plastic lures is a fairly straightforward affair. Bull
Dawgs, in various sizes and sink rates, Super Sandras, and Castaic Swimbaits.
And that's pretty much my lot! The only other large soft baits I'll be looking
to use in the future will be my Fin-S Fish and Slug-Gos. Two underused and underrated
baits that I have neglected for too long. They probably get forgotten about because
they are at their best when fished slow and shallow in places you know a pike
or two are laying up. They are not good for fishing deep, or for fishing fast
and searching fish out. They are finesse baits. The fact that they need rigging
by the angler is probably another reason they get ignored. Nonetheless they are
the closest things you'll find in plastic to a wobbled deadbait. Plain and simple
shads in six and nine inch sizes are worth using too.
Dawgs need no description of their usefulness these days. They are at their best
in nine feet or more of water, although the shallow versions can, obviously, be
fished shallower. A simple straight retrieve has always been best or me - as it
has with all soft plastics featuring a tail action of some kind, but others seem
to do okay working them like a jerkbait.
without weight Super Sandras are fine lures for fishing ultra shallow, and slowly
too. Put them on a heavy jig head (with or without a spinnerbait arm) and they
fish down as deep as you want. Castaic Swimbaits are probably at their best for
fishing below nine feet, and stay deeper more easily than Bull Dawgs. This is
not to say they don't have a use for shallower water, but deep water is where
they shine. As all these ready rigged soft baits are good for casting and cranking
straight in it follows that they are good for trolling too. But remember they
will ride up in the water column - the more so if you have a spinner blade attached
to the rig somewhere.
3 sees me trying to whittle down my crankbait collection and also giving
you the definitive list of my essential lures.
(This article first appeared on
in Pike and Predators - June 2005 on this site April 2006)