Jargon Busting

Compilied from my Lure World column in Pike and Predators

August 2002
Some folks will try to tell you that a twitchbait is a type of jerkbait that you work by using light twitches of the rod top. To some extent I'd go along with that - but only in so much as a twitching motion is being used! What I would class as twitchbaits would be primarily minnowbaits, although other crankbaits like Monster shads are pretty useful. Bass and walleye anglers in the US refer to their small minnowbaits, especially suspending or neutrally buoyant ones, as jerkbaits - which they fish pretty much as I would fish a minnow in twitching mode.

I guess the real answer to this is that a twitchbait is any lure that can be fished using the twitching technique. Here again is a source of debate among lure anoraks. When does a twitch become a jerk? The answer is actually quite simple in my mind. A jerk results in forward movement of the lure while a twitch makes the lure move forward a little, but causes it to either flash its sides, to turn on a central pivot, or do a bit of both - often while diving in the case of a lipped lure.

In a nutshell, twitching a lure should see it giving a lot of movement in a small area. Slow sinking or suspending lures are best for this. I like to use flat sided lures for this, as good ones with a slow rise can be fished for quite some time without moving forward very much at all while giving off loads of flash. This technique is best used in spots where you know there are likely to be pike. You can really concentrate your attention on a particular feature. Say over the top of an isolated cabbage clump, or right next to some marginal reeds.

There is another twitching technique that is almost the complete opposite of this, and that is the rapid retrieving of a buoyant lure like a six inch Jake using a constant twitching action. This method is great for covering a lot of water - particularly using a flashy lure, maybe with chrome or prism finish, in clear water. Aggressive pike will come a long way at high speed to hit a rapidly fished twitchbait under those conditions. You will find that repeatedly twitching a bait like this will drive it deeper than you could get it on a straight retrieve. Which can be handy at times.

One thing for sure is that most twitchbaits are fairly small, maybe seven inches at most. You can twitch larger, lipped lures, like nine inch Grandmas and ten inch Jakes, but it is mega hard work to do for any length of time if you are a puny weakling like me. The bigger the lures get the more crucial is a lack of buoyancy or you will spend all your time and energy trying to keep them below the surface!

June 2002
This month's jargon buster will take my renowned pedantry to new levels! It really bugs me, but soft plastic lures are almost universally referred to in this country nowadays as "rubbers". I know it's a small point, but there is a difference between rubber and plastic.

Soft plastic baits are made from something called Plastisol. The Americans understand that soft plastic is the correct term - rubber is something that is used to make spinnerbait skirts - to the extent that the "soft" is often dropped in talking about these baits. "Jigs and plastic" would be a case in point, differentiating from using jigs with some natural bait or pork strip. So, talking about "plastics" is synonymous with discussing "soft plastics".

Why the use of the term "rubbers" annoys me so much is hard to say, but calling grubs and shads "jellies" is similarly annoying. This latter term is currently the one used in UK sea fishing circles, but it is spreading. On the other hand I have no objections to anyone referring to soft plastics simply as "softbaits" - which they are, and which differentiates them from "hardbaits".

No doubt my words will fall on deaf ears and you'll all continue talking about "rubbers" and "jellies" in stead of "plastics", but at least I have made my point!

May 2002
Seeing as this month's classic lure is a jerkbait perhaps I should clear up the confusion that seems to have crept in to the definition of this term. First of all not all large lures are jerkbaits. For example, some anglers are under the impression that a ten inch Jake is a jerkbait - well it's not, it's a crankbait. Jerkbaits are fairly easy to define. They are lures that have no (or very little) action when you crank them straight back. Okay, so some will snake through the water and some might have a bit of a wiggle, but they all have to have their major action imparted by the angler working the rod.

Here's where another confusion has grown up in the UK. For some reason I have heard a few people tell me that jerkbaits which don't have a side-to-side action like that of this month's Classic Lure, the Darter, aren't jerkbaits! Possibly the most famous jerkbait in the world, the Suick Thriller, has no side-to-side action to speak of. It simply goes up and down when you jerk it, with an occasional lurch sideways! It is one of the 'diving' family of jerkbait - like the Bobbie, Big Daddy and even the Burt. Sometimes these lures are referred to as 'chopbaits' - as they can be fished with a chopping action of the rod, or 'pullbaits' if they are worked with a longer pull. But they are still jerkbaits!

These are the two main categories of jerkbait - the side-to-side glider, and the up-and-down diver. Of course, there are also a few in-between baits, and crankbaits and minnows can be fished in the same way as jerkbaits (as can spoons). The Burt is a bit of a hybrid in as much as it has some swing to its action - well some of them do! This swing is not a glide, but more of a swooping or sweeping action. A glide is straight and smooth, whereas the swing of a Burt follows more of a curved, diving path. The now extinct Bagley B-Flat was termed a glider, but that too is more of a swingbait to my mind. Even so, both of these lures are just jerkbaits when you get down to the nitty gritty. If it hasn't got a diving lip, propellors, blades or any other feature that will give it action (tail fins excluded), and it works under the surface, chances are it's a jerkbait - even if it is only four inches long. If it doesn't fit that description and it is ten inches long it certainly isn't a jerkbait. Things like Bull Dawgs are not jerkbaits either, by the way - they're soft plastics. But that's another story!

April 2002
This month's jargon buster is a simple point that gets people confused - the difference between luminous and fluorescent. Luminous lures are those which glow in the dark, the paint or pigment has to be charged up from some light source and then emits light when the lure is in the dark. The darker conditions are the brighter the lure will appear - glowing with a pale green light.

Fluorescent lures have pigments applied that reflect more light that normal pigments do. We don't need to know all the technicalities, but fluorescent lures appear brighter than non fluorescent lures under the same lighting conditions.

Both luminous and fluorescent coloured baits have their days (or nights I guess) and some people swear by them for deep water fishing.

Fluorescent is often abbreviated to 'fluo' or 'fluor' in lure catalogues followed by the specific colour, and luminous might be referred to as 'lumi' or 'glow'. Although luminous usually means that spooky green glow coming from a colour that appears sort of cream in daylight, there are other luminous colours becoming available - such as pink.

While I am on about colours 'chartreuse' (often abbreviated to 'chart') is a confusing one too - because it can come in either 'yellow chartreuse' or 'green chartreuse'! If you are looking at a lure catalogue there is often no way of knowing which you'll be getting when you order a chartreuse lure. With grubs and other soft plastics 'chartreuse' seems to refer more to the lime-green version, but on painted lures it seems to mean the (fluorescent) yellow one more frequently. Both are good catching colours, though.